Why aren't we talking about vaginas?

Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash

What pops into your mind when you hear the words, “feminine health?” The words ‘vagina’ and ‘cleanliness’ enter mine immediately, notions programmed into me since I was a child. It was always so important to be clean downstairs, but a lack of understanding how has plagued my life with continuos bouts of thrush and BV, all because as a woman, I was misinformed and didn’t take the time to understand my body. Which i’m sure is more common than we will ever know.

You see being clean to me was always paired with the use of soaps and shower gels, non-specific in brand, cost or ingredients and being very thorough in scrubbing a very sensitive area, which, inevitably led to my continuos downfall. Now the whole “your vagina is a self cleaning organ…” never sat well with me, especially as until recently, I’ve more often than not suffered with odour filled discharge which has kept me embarrassed and even in the mindset that something was wrong with with me. Especially with all the lack of conversation amongst my female peers about such topics.

Even as I sit here typing this, part of me is squirming inside thinking about who may read about whats regarded as the most personal part of me, but since having my daughter last year, I feel I’m partly responsible for changing the narrative around experiences that she will commonly share as a woman and to be honest so that we can be informed and remove stigma from what is considered normal and what is not.

As I got further into my teenage years, in my female circles I started to hear more about pH but remained in the dark about what it truly was and of its great importance. When mentioned my thoughts would revolve around the words, acidity and alkaline, never thinking to venture more into finding out how this effects me, even with the symptoms I was experiencing.

There were times when I would have BV (bacterial vaginosis) month after month, just stuck in this cycle of symptoms, treatment, symptoms, and for anyone who’s ever had BV those tablets you have to take are nasty so it was not a pleasant experience. Still, I changed nothing, challenged nothing and suffered in silence.

It wasn’t until I gave birth to my son in 2014 following an extremely painful second degree tear that I began taking real notice of my vaginal health. In my healing, I sought to find out how to treat my vagina better than I had the previous 20 years or so and I’m still learning.

My breakthrough came not long ago when I decided to purchase some products specifically for optimal vaginal health from a brand called Empress Body. Their focus is to “promote healthy alternatives / living by holistic methods, with a range of organic, natural and vegan products.” Now i’m a big time skeptic and I’m definitely not one of those success story women you see on adverts talking about how a product has changed their life. But I can honestly say this brand has.

I’ve been using the Yoni Wash and Yoni Elixir Oil for about a month now and when I began, I was experiencing thrush like symptoms which abated within a few days of use. I feel a freshness I’ve never experienced before as well as a lack of odour and reduced discharge. The Elixir Oil has a number of additional benefits also including balancing pH and can be used internally. The fact that they’re 100% natural also makes me feel as though it must be working magic on my Yoni. My body is responding to these products because I made a choice to take control, challenge my preconceived thoughts about my body and bet on change.

So, my point is, we need to open up the dialogue around intimate issues in order to enforce real change, enforce sisterhoods rather than shaming one another into silence. Without brands like Empress Body, myself, as an almost 32 year old woman would’ve continued to self-shame and not arm myself with the knowledge to fix what I once thought was wrong. We need to change the generational cycle of conversations had with our little girls, big girls and grown women to create a space for acceptance, understanding and the freedom to challenge the ways of the past.