The word vagina probably hasn’t been sexy since Ancient Roman times (when – surprise – it actually was a rather scandalous term). So if you’re a romance author who regularly features female characters doing naughty things, you’ll need to find some other words for “vagina” to use! Don’t worry, there’s enough to choose from.
When you’re writing steamy scenes, there are different options to avoid words like “vagina” and “penis”. Some authors write very abstract sex, in which you can’t really picture what’s happening anyway, so that there’s no reason to name any specific body parts at all. Some are on the other side of the spectrum and simply use terms like “pussy” and “cunt”.
Many people, however, are somewhere in the middle. They do like to include some details in their sex scenes, but try to avoid the most “pornographic” vocabulary as well. (Not that there’s an inherent problem with porn, as far as I’m concerned – but stylistically some terminology will stand out in an average romance novel.)
I’m one of those writers in the middle myself, and finding some decent alternatives for “vagina” has been a persistent struggle for me. (I find vaginas even harder than other words for “penis” – perhaps because the whole aspect of wetness makes so many options sound gross…)
To help myself (and others) a little, I’m writing a series on blog posts with actually useful words for sex scenes. I’ve already discussed penis words, today it’s time for a nice list of other words for “vagina”. As usual, I’ve also included some of the most nauseating euphemisms I found during my research, because giggles are good for us.
A few words of caution
Before we get to the grand list itself, I would like to give a little more advice about picking the right vagina synonym for your scene. Not all words are fine for all situations, after all.
- Take your POV into account. A modern young woman won’t think of her vagina in the same terms as a medieval princess. A sweet, polite male character will likewise have a different vagina vocabulary than a cursing character with a background in the streets. Don’t make your playboy pirate think about his lovers “velvet entrance” (unless you want me to laugh very loud at your scene).
- Don’t use any words for vagina if it’s not necessary. If you say “she was wet”, I’m pretty sure your readers won’t be wondering what part of her is wet exactly. Idem for “he entered her” – we all know what’s going where, don’t we? So be clever with the way you formulate your descriptions, and you’ll need significanly less vagina synonyms.
- Don’t be flowery. Somehow the urge to use purple prose is even stronger with vaginas than with penises. Is this because we want to see women as innocent, flowery creatures who think of their lady bits as the “petal-soft folds of her womanhood”? (As a woman, all I can say about this is “no”.)
- The devil’s in the adjectives. In addition to the last point, I’m finding many vagina alternatives get in trouble because of adjectives. “Core” is alright with me. “Velvety molten core” is a problem. So double-check your adjectives here, because they quickly lead your writing into purple prose territory.
Other words for “vagina”: the list!
With those wise words (or so I hope) in mind, let’s get down to business. For this list of other words for “vagina”, I have used my own experience as a reader and a couple of helpful other sources. Much recommended: Laurel Clarke’s Sexy Thesaurus, Dahlia Evans’ Thinking Like A Romance Writer, and Jackson Dean Chase’s Romance, Emotion and Erotica Writers’ Phrase Book.
As with the penis words, I’m dividing my vagina synonyms in three categories: “perfectly fine”, “use with caution” and “please don’t use”. Categorization is purely a matter of personal opinion, but let me know if you disagree in the comments!
- Warmth (as in “into her warmth”)
- Heat (idem)
- Sex (as “her sex”)
- Cunt (vulgar, but may work with particular styles and POV characters)
- Pussy (idem)
[Curious how I personally use these terms? I published a sex scene (yes, an explicit one, because that’s how I prefer them 😂) from one of my own stories HERE. See if you can find every vagina alternative! And perhaps more important, can you spot all the places where I avoided naming any body parts?]
Use with caution:
These may often be used with some adjective (secret, silky, soft, warm, velvety, wet, tight, etc. But as noted before, please be careful).
- Softness (anyone noticing a pattern here?)
- Secrets (in rare contexts – but I’ve been alright with this in scenes where a woman has sex for the first time)
- Portal (I’m very skeptical about this one, but perhaps people can make it work)
Please don’t use:
- Love canal
- Intimate folds
- Furnace (I get warmth, but you’re not supposed to bake the poor guy!)
- Nest of desire
- Private flesh (bonus points for adjectives – private silky flesh, anyone?)
- Pearly gates
- Pool of moisture
- Hot sleeve of love
- Mound of Venus
- Passion-moisted depths (depths itself can be fine, but as I said, adjectives…)
- Centre of paradise
- Needy place
- Door of her femininity
- Wound that never heals (really??)
A note on female anatomy
For some reason, many romance writers seem to be a little confused about the exact lay-out of the female genitalia. Just to be clear, the vagina is the part that you actually stick a penis into. Not a vagina are:
- The womb. Having a penis stuck into your womb isn’t sexy. It’s either impossible or very painful.
- The vulva. The vulva is the outside of the female genitalia. You can’t stick anything into a vulva.
- The clitoris. Again, the clitoris sits on the outside. You can’t penetrate it. Please don’t try.
- The labia. These are the lips around the vagina, not the vagina itself. Again, impenetrable, in the literal sense of the word.
Of course you can mention these body parts in a sex scene (although the womb would be… a little weird, in my opinion). But please use them as what they are, instead of as some poetic, and woefully incorrect alternative for the vagina.
Did I forget any useful other words for “vagina”? Or do you have any other ridiculous vagina synonyms that deserve a spot on the list? Let me know in the comments!
7 thoughts on “Writing sex scenes: 21 other words for “vagina””
Thank you for this post. I really hope that writers will end up here looking for alternatives. There is a one more thing in a lack of knowledge of a female’s body – a distance of hymen from an entrance (a minute of silence for sex education). I’m not sure if I ever read correct description of it, and I read a lot. It triggers me because hymen is literally almost at the entrance, like, you can see it by slightly spreading the entrance. Yet, in stories, a man inserts almost half of his (always huge) penis and then “she feels sharp pain”. No, just no. People, please, do your research.
Oh, great one! I might write a blog post on how not to write first times one day and this is definitely something to include.
Fanny is a common term for a vagina in the UK, since at least the late 19th century (that’s the only time frame I found so far). I grew up in Australia (still there now), and it is a very common word here for vagina. My GP even called it that occasionally. I got the shock of my life the first time he said it. A vagina is also referred to as a “Fanny” in New Zealand. Many, many years ago I was watching an American tv show. A woman was in a park with a crying baby. Another woman said to pat the baby on the fanny. I said to whoever I was watching tv with, why is she saying to pat the baby on its vagina? Have I missed something here? I later heard American’s calling a bum bag a “fanny” bag. I was horrified at the thought that people were basically calling them a vagina bag. I later learned that in America a fanny is a bum. My point is, be careful about the word fanny, because in Australia, New Zealand and the UK, a fanny is a vagina.
Oh dear! I can see how that leads to misunderstandings… I’ve only seen fanny used in UK regency romances I think, but it’s definitely good to know that a US reader would interpret that entirely different :s
Thank you so much for this post! I have no problem writing sex scenes but, since I am writing my first historical romance novel I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t using terms from today. Some terms haven’t changed (e g breast) but, how she would have thought about her genitalia would be different to how I think about it.
This was a great read with really good advice. It was also pretty hilarious. Thank you for writing it and for the laughter. I can’t believe some of those terms lol!
When I was a young boy, a girls vagina was known as a minge. In my adolescent years it was often known as a muff or a twat; both of these being rather crude. Front bottom can be used in a humorous way.