Vagina is the clinical name for female genitalia, yet most of us are more likely to call it the vajayjay, foo, private area, lady garden…the list goes on. If we can’t even bring ourselves to use the actual term, it is hardly surprising that women tend not to talk about their vaginas.
A recent survey talking to 1,000 women found that 66 per cent of 18-24 year olds in Britain, find talking about their vagina to be deeply embarrassing. It also found that of these women, 48 per cent were afraid of having their hoo-ha examined by a doctor. Not surprisingly, this is affecting women’s health.
Physical changes, discharge, non-menstrual bleeding, lumps, bumps, and pain or discomfort during sex, are all issues that can arise in our nether regions. These may not necessarily indicate a problem, but if we are too scared to even talk to our friends about it, it is hardly likely that we will go to a doctor for advice in such a situation.
What if these changes are the result of health problems down below? Are we really happy to leave it, cross our fingers and hope it goes away, simply out of embarrassment?
Why the Taboo?
For starters, the vagina has been massively overly sexualised, with males and females alike often thinking of vaginas only in terms of sexual activity. Of course you are going to feel uncomfortable talking about your vagina or showing it to a doctor if you only view it as a sexual thing. Sex is a private thing after all and showing your vagina to a stranger is not something women do on a day-to-day basis. From this perspective, it’s understandable that talking about vaginas makes us nervous, and that the idea of someone poking around down there makes us want to run and hide in a corner.
The lack of discussion between mothers and daughters, female friends and family members, is another factor. For men, conversations about penises start at a young age. Little boys playing with their private parts is a common occurrence, perhaps because it is an external feature. However, for girls conversations about vaginas tend to only come up at puberty, and often feature a quick chat about the birds and the bees in hushed tones in a private corner. Even in sex education, little is taught about how to spot problems down below or what to do about them.
The need for change.
Now I’m not suggesting that we all start throwing vagina parties and munching on vagina cake, (although any excuse for cake is good in my personal opinion,) but the taboo surrounding our vaginas is affecting our health and something needs to be done about it. Even just talking to a friend about any worries you have is a step in the right direction.
Every woman has a vagina. Every woman has probably worried about some aspect of vaginal health at some point in their life. Would it not make you feel better to share that worry with a loved one? They could be worrying about the exact same thing, or they may have experienced what you are going through and therefore, be able to offer help or advice.
If you are in a relationship, why not talk to your partner about your worries? One of the benefits of being in a relationship if having someone you can talk to about anything, so if your vagina is a cause of worry, why not share that worry? If you are scared to go to the doctor alone, sharing your fears with your partner, a friend or family member (whoever you feel most comfortable talking too), could lessen that fear. They could provide support and may even offer to go to see the doctor with you. There is no need to keep your worries to yourself and suffer in silence.
A final word.
It is time we admit that vaginas are seen as a taboo subject. The female population’s health is at risk as a result. There is only one way to break the taboo surrounding vaginas and that is to talk openly about them. It is time we break the taboo.