I have a love hate relationship with my vagina.
On the one hand, it's something that is the essence of who I am. To me, it is something that makes me feel like a feminine, powerful and strong woman. I struggled with endometriosis my freshman year of undergrad—it's a condition that causes discomfort and in extreme cases can even threaten your fertility. So knowing my vagina and I made it through that time together and came out alive makes me feel like a strong, feminine soul. To borrow from Eve Ensler, it's "a delicate flower"—it's something I grow and it is 100% mine. That in itself is pretty liberating.
On the other hand, a vagina is also that pain in the ass roommate that is unreceptive to your social calendar, is incredibly messy and also likes to constantly make you aware of its presence. So this one goes out to all you ladies out there—I present to you the ups and downs that make vaginas resilient heroes and, well...real pussies.
1. I think we should just establish this one first as it's a given: your period.
Aunt Flo can be the most unpredictable relative—she's either barging in too early or worrying you to death by showing up late. She makes you waste all your money on tampons and pads (which, by the way, carry the pink tax) and just makes you feel gross. Worst aunt ever.
2. Trying to figure out how the hell it works.
You remember the first time you tried to find, well, ANYTHING down there? It's like Pans Labyrinth. You sat there with your mom's hand mirror and a copy of something between "Grey's Anatomy" and "Feminine Mystique" just trying to understand what in the HELL was going on.
From wasting an entire box of tampons to the endless search for your clitoris, you and your lady parts had some times where you just didn't understand each other.
3. The upside to this is when you DO discover all your bits and pieces.
Tampon application has become a mindless task, and you've become more and more comfortable with yourself sexually. Also, like, orgasms. You know how to make one happen now.
Both a pro and a con when it comes to having a va-jay-jay. While sometimes vaginal sex is great and enjoyable, sometimes your lady friend just says "NOPE, not today." That has to do with the fact that our anatomy is incredibly complicated. We have ligaments that if not properly relaxed can make vaginal penetration extremely painful. Our internal tissue (though resilient) is incredibly sensitive.
As such, it's always important to tell your partner what you like and what it is you need from sex. Don't be afraid to want foreplay, it more than likely will make your sex life incredible for the both of you!
Another pro and con with having a vagina—difficult (and infuriating) to figure out, but fantastic once you get it right. But beyond the sensation, a female orgasm is incredibly liberating in that it reminds you how much power you have inside yourself. You have the power to make yourself feel this way. You have energy in yourself that you can release by simply knowing your own body.
6. "WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT, AM I DYING?"
Have you ever been walking around and just felt yourself sloughing? That's the medical vernacular for, "Did my vagina just fucking sneeze??" You know the struggle, usually just as you've put on a pair of actual NICE underwear, you're minding your own business and feel something let loose. Sometimes it's so intense you wonder if you just hemorrhaged all your intestines out through your hoo-haw.
7. Follow up to the previous point, vaginas ruin so many pairs of underwear.
They never do it when we're in our $2.00 pair that have holes in them. No, it's always the pair you paid 40 bucks for that only come out once in a blue moon. Not cool.
8. Feeling like you can't talk about your vagina.
This is a big one. I'm not saying you need to turn every conversation into a "vagina monologue," and dinner is probably not the best time to discuss a yeast infection. However, sex and genitalia are such a taboo in Western culture that we often feel embarrassed or even ashamed of our own bodies! This is a problem that can make it difficult to talk to healthcare professionals, make expressing needs in sexual relationships frustrating and leave you with a lot of uncertainty about your own anatomy. If you have ever felt this way, you're not alone!
Just know your vagina is not anything to be embarrassed about and if you have questions about it, they are okay to ask!
Now, I have never given birth, but to me, this is perhaps the most incredible thing a vagina can do. First of all, the ability a vagina has in terms of resilience is mind-blowing: it can pass a person out of it and then heal itself. AMAZING. But more so than this, what a beautiful thing that an organ can be transformed into a vessel for life. Birth is such a mysterious and spiritual process that it genuinely makes me emotional to think about it.
10. "What's that smell?"
"Am I OK? I feel OK. Is this from jogging? It doesn't itch, but it definitely smells off. Should I call the doctor?"
11. Products. Follow up to the last point.
Listen y'all, they may have a unique smell and have issues from time to time, but YOUR VAGINA DOES NOT NEED TO SMELL LIKE A SUMMER BREEZE. I repeat—products that say they're going to make you smell like a coconut are NOT GOOD FOR YOUR VAGINA. Vaginas are like a self-cleaning oven, and products like these SERIOUSLY mess with your pH. If your smell is off, it's a good idea to call your healthcare provider to see if you have an infection, not to try to mask the smell with vagina deodorant. Yes, this is a real thing. Yes, it's super rude. I don't want that in my face when I'm already not feeling feminine or fresh!
For these and a myriad of other reasons, vaginas are incredibly complex, just like women are. They have layers and layers (no pun intended) of confusion but also bring liberation, satisfaction and life. So, although they can drive us crazy, I think we can all agree on one thing: