Dr. Dean

'Vagina Dentata' - In Fact And Folklore

Posting Date: 06/11/1999

I know, teeth in the vagina is an old joke - and I never thought I'd be reading something like this on my show. This piece goes back to an article I did some time ago about a gynecologist who reported that he actually saw some teeth in a vagina.

Can you imagine? Day in and day out, nothing but pap smears, and then one day you put in the speculum and there are some choppers staring back at you!

Well, that woman had a dermoid cyst. Dermoid cysts are derived from the outer layers of embryonic skin, and they are capable of growing hair and teeth and bones, anything that comes from the outer layers of the embryo. They can occur anywhere.

So this woman had one in the pelvic region and the cyst grew teeth, and when it ruptured through the wall where her uterus joins her vagina - there were the teeth. In my practice once, I saw one in the eyelid.

Well, someone sent me their aunt's thesis on vaginal teeth! I had no idea there was so much about vaginal teeth in folklore and literature - it blew me away. It has a name too, "vagina dentata!"

Apparently this vaginal teeth motif is in myths and stories and even jokes all over the world, showing up as a symbol of aggression in women, or of weapons that they can use to rape and kill men. In many of the stories, apparently the women marry the men who detoothed their vaginas and made them safe.

Here is one example from Koelari, Bastar State:

"There was a Rakshasa's daughter who had teeth in her vagina. She used to live mostly as a tigress and kept ten or twelve tigers with her. When she saw a man, she would turn into a pretty girl, seduce him, cut off his penis, eat it herself and give the rest of his body to her tigers.

"One day she met seven brothers in the jungle and married the eldest so that she could sleep with them all. After some time she took the eldest boy to where her tigers lived, made him lie with her, cut off his penis, ate it and gave his body to the tigers.