You don’t have to dress up like a vagina or get a tattoo to prove your commitment to this cause, simply normalize the conversation about vaginal health. Your vagina and your intimate health matter. Own it.
“It’s about you as a woman wanting to improve your health and wellness,” wrote Jo Middleton, blogger on Slummy Single Mommy. Here are three simple steps we can all take to help normalize women’s intimate health.
1. Call it a vagina and know where it is
Did you know the word vagina comes from the Latin word for sheath or scabbard? These words were first used to describe a covering, of protection for a knife or sword.
“Why do people say “grow some balls”? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding,” said Golden Girls’ actress, Betty White.
So why do we call it a hoo-ha, va-jay-jay, or flower? Words have incredible power. A poll from Eve Appeal found that 65% of women were uncomfortable saying “vulva” or “vagina,” and over 50% of women couldn’t label their vagina on an anatomical drawing.
If you find yourself in the 50% category, no worries! We’ve got you covered. Check out our blog, Know Your V from The Outside In. It will teach you all you need to know about your intimate anatomy. If you find yourself part of the 65% of women who aren’t comfortable, that’s okay, too—it’s why we’re here!
It’s funny how nicknames can be easier than the real word. But as nerve-wracking or awkward as it may seem, calling a vagina a vagina, helps normalize women’s intimate health. It shows we aren’t afraid to understand our bodies and how they work. Also, it helps open the door to respect. Think of Aretha Franklin next time you go to say vagina. R-E-S-P-E-C-T!
2. Understand it’s about more than just looks
You’ve probably heard the term “Mommy Makeover” labiaplasty, or vaginal rejuvenation. These treatments involve surgery, lasers, or radiofrequency. And, they’re growing at an astronomical rate!
But before you make any judgments on these intimate procedures, find out what they are—quality of life enhancers and confidence boosters. It’s about more than just looks, it’s about getting back things you may have stopping doing, like jogging, going to the store pad-free, or enjoying sex.
“As medical advances have helped to increase longevity, our focus has shifted from the quantity to the quality of life,” wrote Forbes Magazine.
We sometimes hear the phrase “quality of life” and think of end of life care, or someone who is struggling with severe physical or mental impediments, but it means more than that. Medicine.net defines quality of life as, “the ability to enjoy normal life activities…some medical treatments can impair quality of life, whereas others greatly enhance quality of life.”
Think about what matters to you and how it adds or takes away from your quality of life. For the many women, sex is a huge part of their quality of life.
Viveve sponsored a survey in the U.K. of 1500 women who had given birth vaginally, and found that 80% of women said that personal enjoyment of sex is important to them, and more than a third (37%) saying it was ‘extremely’ important to them.
That means sex is quality of life issue because it matters to women; it’s something they enjoy. Now, think about the following situations:
- Women who give birth vaginally and have a feeling of looseness (also called vaginal laxity) resulting in a loss of sexual sensation. (Affects 40% of women).
- Women who pee a little (bladder leakage) when they laugh, jump on a trampoline, or just can’t make it to the bathroom in time. (Affects 50% of women).
- Women who are post-menopause or are thrown into menopause early from cancer treatments, and experience vaginal dryness, irritation, and painful sex (dyspareunia). (Affects 50% of postmenopausal women)
All of these situations are intimate health issues that affect women’s quality of life. They all impair/inhibit a women’s life in some way. Also, these aren’t rare issues, they are common and normal.
3. Own it and share it
Women’s intimate health issues don’t have to be taboo, especially when there are so many treatments available. To normalize these issues, we must educate each other, and remember they are quality of life issues and not something we have to put up with.
Whether your way of normalizing women’s intimate health is painting vaginas, learning how to say the word vagina without blushing, or no longer accepting vaginal laxity or bladder leakage, we hope you share what you’ve learned and not let other women suffer in silence.