We think that it’s about time that we start talking about our vulvas — correctly!
We want for every person with a vulva to be empowered with accurate information about their private parts.
For many years, discussing female sexuality and health in the doctor’s office was taboo. Especially sexual health, was deemed unimportant or irrelevant because that was how the female body were viewed. Since then, we have have come along way liberating ourselves from patriarchal structures in society, but there's still a need for a more norm critical approach in places like the mainstream media, politics, sex-ed and in the femcare industry when it comes to the female body.
Vulvas and vaginas in particular have long been considered a taboo subject matter — a topic to be whispered about quietly. There’s still a lot of harmful myths and discourses in society that vulvas are unclean and something to be ashamed of. It is extremely important that we overcome this stigma, and educate ourselves on what's 'normal' and what's not.
No body and no vulva is alike, but common myths surrounding vulvas have made many people feeling embarrassed when it comes to our intimate and vaginal health. With all the secrecy surrounding vulvas, it's no surprise that a lot of womxn are wondering if their vulva is normal. We've not been armed with the accurate information. But we believe, that knowledge is one of our strongest allies in getting to know our vulvas better and to take control of our vaginal health.
Educating ourselves are a one of the ways we can help tackle the lack of information, or the misinformation that surrounds the vulva. So we've made a list with some of the myths it’s time we all stopped believing:
Myth 1: Your vulva should look one particular way:
It’s human nature to compare ourselves against others and the challenge when it comes to vulvas, in this instance, is that so often, we are left with the feeling that how we look is ‘not normal'. But vulvas are like noses — they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, all of which are completely normal, and the size of the vulva vary from person to person. It is myths like this that can cause people with vulvas feeling a lot of shame and worthlessness about their body.
Myth 2: Discharge means something is wrong:
Discharge is completely natural, and is actually full of ‘good’ bacteria which help protect against infection, and exists to lubricate and cleanse the vagina – so it definitely doesn't mean that something is wrong. Discharge can vary from person to person and throughout your monthly cycle. The vagina's discharge is actually what allows it to naturally clean itself. Incredible, right?
Myth 3: Infections are because of poor hygiene:
Ironically, vaginal infections like bacterial vaginosis can actually be caused by wanting "to be clean". Infections are rarely down to how little or often you wash, as the vagina is a self-cleaning organ which has natural microflora that thrive at an acidic pH and help to prevent infection. However, the good bacteria which keep the environment in check can be disrupted by washing with medicated or perfumed soaps,
Myth 4: A healthy vagina doesn’t smell:
All vaginas have a light natural scent - and it's completely normal. The vagina can have a stronger scent at certain times of the month due to hormonal fluctuations, during pregnancy, or after sex. The truth is that the vagina is designed to clean itself, and adding in harsh products may do more harm than good.
Myth 5: The ideal vulva is small and tight:
Unfortunately, the images of genitals typically shown in media and pornography do not portray the range of variations in size, shape, colour and symmetry. This leaves many womxn feeling down about how their vagina looks. But like the rest of your body, your vagina and vulva change in shape and size over the years. The elastic muscles of the vagina can stretch and return to their usual shape. During aging and after childbirth, the muscles around the vagina may become less strong. The vagina is an incredible organ in the sense that it is highly elastic and accommodating — so the ideal of a small and tight vagina is simply medial and social misogyny.
As with all aspects surrounding vaginas and vulvas, the main way to tackle the stigma is to talk about them. This way we can make sure that more people with vulvas will know what is normal — and that there's no reason to be ashamed at all.
This article was last updated on 24th of June 2021.