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With so much craziness happening recently, it’s more important than ever to be in tune with your body. And I mean, get to know your lady parts inside and out. Growing up, I guess it was taboo to talk about sex, women’s health, and vaginas. Personally, other than don’t have sex, don’t get pregnant, and wipe front to back, I don’t remember a lot of talk about being a female, how to care for my lady parts, and how amazing it was going to be when I finally became a woman.
Basic female anatomy was not explained to me as a child…I honestly don’t even think it was referred to as a vagina. My grandmother called it her ‘pocketbook’. My mom referred to it as my ‘privacy’. No one directly came out and called a vagina what it was. Whether it was taboo, thought to be unladylike, or was just embarrassing for them to call it what it was….I wish my momma told me about my basic female anatomy and educated me on my vaginal health.
The importance of vaginal health
Your overall health as a woman, or person with a vagina, can be affected if something is off with your vagina. The inability to conceive, become sexually aroused, reach orgasm, and many other circumstances can be caused by vaginal issues. You’re also likely to start questioning yourself as a woman and suffer from low self-confidence if you’re one of the many who struggle with vaginal or vulvar dryness, have a low sex drive or decreased libido, have difficulty getting aroused, or have trouble maintaining a healthy sex life. The stress and strain it causes relationships can almost be too much to bear.
Be careful what you put in or near your vagina
YOUR VAGINA IS NOT SUPPOSED TO SMELL LIKE ROSES! I’ll say that again. YOUR VAGINA IS NOT SUPPOSED TO SMELL LIKE ROSES! Or candy. Or perfume. Or anything other than a vagina. I wish my momma told me that using scented cleansers, soaps, and other products with fragrance would irritate my delicate skin down there. I remember using big-name body washes with the matching lotion and body spray. I wanted to smell like peaches, strawberries, flowers, anything that would be enticing. But all that extra stuff made my delicate skin dry, irritated, and sometimes led to the doctor’s office for a lil antibiotic action to clear things up. Tight clothing, panties that aren’t made of cotton, and a loss of estrogen during menopause (or at any time) can cause itching, irritation, and discomfort to your vagina as well.
There are parts to the female anatomy….it’s not just a vagina down there
What you see when you look at your ‘vagina’ is actually your vulva. The vagina is the internal part of your reproductive system, the muscular canal that receives the penis (or toy or finger, whatever you like), tampons, and menstrual cups, and also releases a baby during childbirth and blood during your menstrual cycle. I wish my momma told me I was actually looking at my vulva when 16-year-old me was shining a mirror down there to see what was going on. The vulva is the outer part of the female anatomy that includes the labia majora and labia minora (big and little lips), urethra opening (where urine comes out), clitoral hood (which covers the clitoris), and the clitoris (the treasure chest of womanhood!). Crazy, right?! So, why do we refer to the whole area as the vagina? Sometimes we just don’t know what we don’t know.
As we get older, the muscles in our pelvic floor can start getting weak, causing a new onset of the female struggle. Kegels can help strengthen and tone these muscles, especially if you suffer from urine leakage or uterine prolapse. I wish my momma told me to do Kegels to help keep my pelvic floor strong…and to drive my man crazy when it’s going down! Side note: to do Kegels, tighten your muscles like you were stopping the flow of urine, and then release. Do a few sets of these multiple times a day to help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.
Know what medications you’re on and how they affect your vagina
Some medications can cause vaginal irritation and other side effects. A lot of birth control options have some not so good side effects, so make sure you’re well informed when starting any new medication. Antibiotics can cancel out your birth control, so make sure you use another form of protection while on antibiotics. I wish my momma told me to research birth control side effects before I got on something. I had a 2 year implant put in…and had it removed 3 months later, because my cycle came on about a week later and NEVER went off. That thing had to come out!!
Go to the gynecologist
Prevention is better than treatment. I wish my momma told me to start seeing a gynecologist…that’s it. I don’t think I went to one until I was in my early 20s and had a yeast infection (which I was sure was an STI I had gotten from my then-boyfriend. I mean I cussed him out so bad…then had to apologize after I went to the doctor). If the conversation about vaginal health had occurred in my earlier years, I may have known what it was and not jumped to conclusions. But I had never had an STI or a yeast infection, so I was clueless. It became routine that I saw the gynecologist, especially since I worked so closely with them as a nurse. We established what was normal (or abnormal) for me, even though it may be abnormal (or the norm) for other women. You have to know your baseline, so you know when something is off.
I had to learn a lot of things regarding my feminine health on my own. Maybe you did too. It was a different time then and people weren’t as open with conversations and topics as they are now. Our mission at Nedia Beauty is to make sure women are informed about how to properly care for their feminine parts, what to expect (and maybe not expect) from your vagina, and to help keep you from being misinformed about your vaginal and vulvar health.
Thank you for this blog! It’s to the point and something like this needs to be shared even at a high school level. Like the other sista said, all we knew was to not get pregnant, don’t have sex yet and unfortunately my mother was all about using powder down there. Back then, powder was made with talc which is very toxic and hazardous to our health. In the later years…my Mom was diagnosed with Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer and passed away. Studies have shown that talc powder has contributed to ovarian cancer. The more we put out there like you have, the more we can educate the masses. Thanks Brooklyn!
I enjoyed this blog. It was informative and funny and reminded me of my youth. I wish my momma had told me a anything about my vagina other than don’t get pregnant and you better not be having sex. Thank you Brooklyn.