Vagina Dentata: An Introduction

Vagina Dentata is Latin for toothed vagina. The name was given by Freud, the man who popularised the notion in Western Culture. Freud stated that the vagina dentata as the universal unconscious collective fear of every male's psyche. The fear that at the ultimate moment of pleasure, his member is, well... dismembered. This notion went unchallenged (who wants to challenge the Father of Psychoanalysis) until researchers found numerous holes in his data, and fabricated case studies.

Vagina Dentata and Mythology

Ancient Greeks had the myth of the laminae who were lusty female demons. Their name means "lecherous vaginas". The Greek philosopher Pliny claimed that the male snake impregnates the female by putting his head into her mouth and allowing her to eat him.

Mouths and vaginas have overlapping symbolism in many cultures. The Yanomamo tribe of South America has the same word for both eat and copulate, and the same word for pregnant and satiate and full (in the well fed sense).

In Europe during the Middle Ages, popular Christian belief stated that witches could grow fangs in their vaginas.

Jewish myth named the female genitalia beth shenayim, which translates as "the toothed place", and stressed the need for vigilance when entering.

Vagina Dentata in Popular Culture

H.R. Giger's designs for the film Alien feature the vagina dentata - a fact which only continues to fuel the psychoanalytical film theory regarding the Alien series.

An African witch claims to have a toothed vagina in Neil Gaiman's American Gods.

The Saarlac Pit in Return of the Jedi as Freud's Vagina Dentata. (according to Dan Vebber at

wertperch: The girl, known as Y.T, in Snow Crash by Neil Stephenson had a removable defense mechanism resembling a vagina dentata.

kalen: The aliens in Julian May's Saga of the Exiles.

Real Vagina Dentatas

There are rare cases of dermoid cysts forming that can cause parts of the body that fold in to form another organ (such as the vagina), to grow teeth, hair, fingernails and bones.


James Donald, UNSW

On a factual note, while studying pathology I have come across photos of ovarectomies where the cancerous ovary is dissected to reveal teeth, hair, nail and sometimes brain tissue. Gross but true. Cancerous cells are normally undifferentiated, meaning that they assume the most basic shape and function, but if differentiation is randomly triggered the cell may mature into skin, tooth or any other type of cell in the body regardless of anatomical location. Remember that every single cell in the body contains all the information that describes the individual and may thus differentiate into any tissue depending on its physical location and several other factors.

This condition is specifically referred to as teratoma.

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