In 2022, women are independent, and the internet has made it possible for us to get information on just about everything instantly. You might assume that due to easy availability, women today are well versed with knowledge about their sexual health. However, it is not the case. It is shocking to discover that the women of the information age are quite uninformed. Additionally, society makes women feel ashamed of their bodies because they don’t even utter the word vagina. Words like lady parts, down there, fanny, vajayjay, lady flower, etc.. are prevalent as saying the word vagina is not normalized. If Disney could produce an animated film, “The Story of Menstruation,” for school health classes in 1946 and use the word, you can definitely use it without holding back in 2022.
Everyone should learn about their anatomy as this knowledge can help you avoid several issues and catch them early. Here are a few questions most women have that they might feel too shy to ask other women and often their doctors or healthcare professionals:
I found a bump near my vagina. Is it an STD? What should I do?
A bump down there could be an ingrown hair, herpes, or warts. To rule out whether the growth is an STD or not, its location gives a strong clue. Check if it is inside of the labia or not. If it exists outside it can be any of the three. However, if it exists inside of the labia, it is likely an STD as we know that hair doesn’t grow inside of the labia.
You can also check for color to determine if it is an STD or not. If the growth is hard and raised and is skin-colored or red, it is likely ingrown hair and not an STD.
However, if it has a clear top, red base, and looks like a blister, odds are that it is herpes. It is a wart if it feels a little floppy and is flesh-colored. Warts and herpes are STDs and you should see your doctor immediately.
Can condoms protect me from STDs? How effective are they?
No, condoms reduce risk but they are not 100% effective in protecting you from STDs. If your male partner wears one, it can protect you from coming in direct contact with his penis for the most part. However, STDs can also be transmitted from any sort of contact your body has with his pubic area, which we know almost always happens. So, it doesn’t mean you should stop wearing condoms altogether as it certainly helps mitigate a lot of risks.
The major takeaway here is that anyone can get an STD. So, ask your partner if they have an STD, and also inform him if you have any so that it can be treated and not transmitted. If you are in doubt, use the above chart for reference, and get tested.
My inner labia and outer labia don’t look like those of the models I see on the Internet. Is that weird?
No, not at all! Labia come in different sizes, colors, lengths, and some people have bigger inner-labia than the outer labia, they are all normal. Celebrities, models, and people in the porn industry are often surgically enhanced to fit a certain look, which is not normal. It is not just labia, you will find all body parts of all genders on TV that isn’t natural. Additionally, be it women’s breasts, tummies, butts, lips, cheeks, forehead, etc in addition to men’s muscles, abs, and more; videos and photographs are often enhanced with computer graphics or surgically altered.
So, feel secure in your body and disregard the hype created by social media celebrities.
Why do I get such excruciating abdominal pain during my menstruation? Is it normal?
No. Abdominal pain is common but not normal. It can be caused because of a wide variety of reasons. Since you experience it whilst menstruating, PCOS, PMDD, endometriosis, fibroids, nutrient deficiency, estrogen dominance, chronic stress, etc.. could be causing the pain. You might want to track your periods and document your mood throughout the cycle. Getting basic menstrual education can be a great start.
The key is not to keep it to you or downplay when you consult with your doctor. If you are not getting ample attention from your doctor or OB-GYN, you may hire a period coach for personal attention to help address underlying issues that may be causing painful periods. Avoid taking NSAIDs for a prolonged time as they come with several side effects that might do more harm than good. If you experience severe menstrual pain and abdominal cramps, you might want to give sanitary pads that are infused with hemp-derived CBD a try.
What is the normal amount, consistency, and color of vaginal discharge?
Vaginal discharge or leukorrhea is a way for your body to remove old cells and debris from the vagina to keep the reproductive tract healthy and clean. The amount of vaginal discharge may significantly differ from one person to another.
Whether you are getting way too much discharge or the usual amount, you must avoid wearing a period pad or pantyliner. Counter-intuitively, wear normal underwear crafted from breathable cotton fabric and not try to spare your panties. If your panties become too drenched, you may change them but using a pantyliner is not recommended. Pantyliners trap moisture from the discharge, which signals the body to secrete even more discharge in an attempt to clear off the issue.
The amount, consistency, and color of the discharge may vary from one day to another based on the current stage of their moon cycle:
- Phase 1: Bleeding/New Moon: The uterus sheds its endometrial lining and cleansing itself off. Hence the color of the discharge is bloody or red.
- Phase 2: Follicular/Waxing: It is a new start after the cleansing process and the egg begins developing and matures. The mucus is cloudy, sticky, and white or yellow.
- Phase 3: Ovulation/Full Moon: The discharge is slippery and thin just before ovulation begins. However, it will turn sticky, and white or yellow after the ovulation phase.
- Phase 4: Luteal/Waning: In this last phase of the menstrual cycle, the hormones are plummeting and the amount of mucus will go down and will lighten before the next period.
Ideally, the vaginal discharge should be very light yellow or clear. It shouldn’t be sticky or have a bad odor to it. Here are some common diagnoses based on the color of vaginal discharge:
Sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea or chlamydia, besides infections like candida, gardnerella, and trichomonas can cause vaginal discharge.
Is it normal that I prefer sleeping commando?
Yes, especially if you have irritation in the vicinity of your vagina and it is itching. If you are prone to getting rashes there or may experience chafing, it is a good option. Sweating and moisture make it difficult for itching and irritation to subside. Sleeping commando allows more oxygen and speeds up the process of evaporation of moisture or sweat in the affected area.
If it bugs you too much you may avoid underwear during the day too as long as you wear pants or longer skirts. Maintaining good hygiene helps keep such rashes or irritation at bay.
I think I keep my privates pretty clean. Am I missing something?
The best ways to keep your lady parts clean are the most obvious ones. Yes, bathing with warm water and a washcloth. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a special spray, deodorant, soap, feminine wash, or even douching to keep your vagina clean.
Some might be surprised to learn that the female reproductive tract usually keeps itself clean. Some of those things have harsh chemicals that may kill the good bacteria that help fight infections.
Hopefully, this information is useful for you and helps you understand the importance of taking the shame out of the female anatomy in 2022. Keep watching this space to learn amazing things human female body and more. Learning about your body helps develop period positivity that allows you to align better with nature as your body holds a universe within itself.
Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only. It should not be treated as medical advice. Don’t wait and see if you have an issue; we recommend you to consult your OB-GYN or doctor immediately.
Cherie Marquez is the co-founder of Red Moon, where she brings her talents as an entrepreneur, storyteller, and holistic health enthusiast. Cherie is also the founder of Take One Daily Media, a marketing, advertising, and design agency dedicated to using media in creative and progressive ways. For twenty years, Cherie has used marketing and design strategy to impact social change. You can connect with her on Linkedin.