Let’s be honest, sometimes things get a bit swampy down there. Oh please, don’t look at me like that. I can see you over there, all: omG! this girl sounds GROSS! not ME! my lady bits are always fresh like sunshine and unicorn tears! *clutches pearls*
But I’m pretty sure we’re not that different, pumpkin. We wash, we eat well, we exercise, work hard, have a little fun on the weekends. We go to the doctor, use protection, get freaked out that we left our tampon in too long and will die a horrible toxic shock syndrome death. So what gives? Why are things just….off sometimes?
Some nasty little voice inside of us says it’s because we’re dirty, we’re slutty, there’s something wrong with us. But I know enough to know that those three thoughts in rapid succession don’t ever come from my own head or the gentle all-knowing wisdom of Morgan Freeman/God. These are the voices of your high school Health teacher or the mom from Carrie. Don’t listen to these voices.
So then why does this keep happening to me?!, you wonder desperately while scratching your junk discreetly on the edge of the copy machine at work. My vagina doctor tells me that persistent swamp crotch (official medical term) is the most common thing she sees in her practice (so you can let go of your pearls now). She says that most women just rush into her office with sunglasses and a hat on and rush out with a prescription balled up in their fist. I get it, it’s easier to take a pill and pretend like we are not sitting on an entire eco-system that needs attention. But if we gave our vaginas even a fraction of the attention we give our diets, we would have a much happier punany.
Please note: I am obviously not a doctor (see point #1). I am just a big sister, friend, and proud vagina owner for over 33 years. All the following is what I’ve learned from personal experience, research, and from medical professionals. I am not an expert so take it or leave it, baby girl!
- Go to the doctor: If things feel like they’re off, they probably are. And I don’t recommend that you spend too much time on WebMD diagnosing yourself. You will almost certainly discover that you have a very rare case of spider monkey vagina cancer and we’ll never see you again. You probably just have a yeast infection or maybe bacterial vaginosis, but definitely go to the doctor and make sure it’s nothing more serious.
- Ditch the tampons: To use a tampon is to soak up all the toxic sludge from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sewer den and insert it directly into your vagina. They are full of all kinds of crazy, unregulated chemicals that no man would ever insert into his penis voluntarily. My life improved dramatically when I stopped using them on a regular basis. Now I only use them when I am running marathons or kayaking or something, which is never. If you are one of those people that just can’t give up your tampons, then at least use the unscented and chlorine-free kinds. There are also all these cups and reusable pads on the market that seem promising and will give you major cool points at the feminist bookstore and drum circle.
- Stop using sprays and douches: In her natural state, your vagina is glorious and clean and healthy and smells like a Cinnabon at the mall in the 90s (ie: irresistable; it should not smell like sugary doughy heaven).She maintains a balanced pH level, keeps microorganisms in check, and doesn’t even ask you for anything in return. That’s just the kind of classy chick she is. However, sometimes the delicate balance of her queendom gets interrupted and your vagina, since she can’t talk, has other ways of communicating to you that something’s up (eg, itchiness, discharge, odor, etc). Pay attention to her distress calls, don’t cover them up with chemicals! That’s like you calling the police and they come and pepper spray you all in the face (Note to self: write article about how police brutality is like feminine spray). Douches and sprays are full of synthetic chemicals that change the pH of your vagina, disturbing the delicate balance downtown and making things even worse. So if something seems “wrong” down there, figure out what it is. If everything is normal and you just want your snatch to smell like a Yankee Candle store then I’m not sure what to tell you. (But whoever he is, dump him. And I’m not being heteronormative here either — if a woman who has sex with women wants you to douche don’t just dump her, run.) Anyway, warm water should be good enough to keep things clean down there. Baths are your friend, but be wary of soaps and bath oils with fragrances or other chemicals.
- Switch your condoms: I found that switching from latex to non-latex condoms made a big difference for my nether regions. I also make sure my man (They also have latex-free dental dams and lady condoms) uses the kind that don’t have spermicide. And yes, I do the condom shopping in my relationship. I buy the jumbo packs in the Magnum size and I thoroughly enjoy all the looks I get as I slam them down on the counter like I just won at dominoes. I would never, ever put any of those flavored condoms inside of my person. Sour apple pussy, no thank you. (Update: I use polyisoprene or polyurethane condoms, not the lambskin ones. Those are basically just sperm catchers and don’t protect you from STIs. so maybe better if you’re married and certain nobody is creeping. Using a sheep sausage casing is a little too cavewoman for me anyway.)
- Trash those frilly undies: PLEASE stop wearing those frilly slinky shiny underwear from You-Know-Who’s Secret. There is a reason why your granny told you to wear white cotton underwear. It’s not because she was an uptight church lady who thought black thongs were the devil’s work (well, that’s not the only reason). It’s because cotton is a breathable, natural fiber and because the less dye used in a fabric, the less chemicals you are exposed to. If it’s your honeymoon, valentine’s day, your anniversary, then feel free to wrap yourself up in Saran Wrap and do whatever kinky shit you like. But for the day-to-day, going to work and riding the train and running on the treadmill and happy hour? Cotton underwear, please!
- Stop wearing yoga pants everywhere: I know they’re comfy. And for whatever reason, it has become totally acceptable to wear them to the grocery store and brunch and even to work. But don’t do it. Your lady needs to breeeeeathe. I don’t care if they’re “eco-friendly” or if they gave a free pair to a disadvantaged yogi, they are still almost definitely made from synthetic fibers that are not breathable. And there is nothing that makes your vagina more pissed off than being suffocated. Why do you hate her so much?
- Stop wearing pants all together: If you are one of those unbelievably lucky people that lives alone (I hear that’s a thing somewhere, right? Out there in District 11 where the rents aren’t overpriced and the apartments like American Doll accessories?) then you should take your pants off as soon as you get home. If anyone ever comes over unexpectedly or Facetimes you, your first concern should always be, “Oh, shit. I’m not wearing any pants!” Throw on an extra long shirt or hoody (even better if it belongs to your boo, she/he will think you’re sooo cute) and air out your honey pot, honey. At the very least, you should be going bottomless to sleep at night.
- Switch your laundry detergent: Please see above re: toxic sludge. Have you ever looked at the ingredients on a laundry detergent bottle? Not only is it expensive as hell but also full of crazy chemicals. What is the point of buying these pristine cotton underwear and then putting them through a chemical bath that gives your vagina the creeps? I like using baby detergent (If a baby can’t use it, why should I? Also, babies shit on EVERYTHING so the detergent really works). This is a good place to look for good, low-impact detergents, fabric softeners, etc.
- Clean your sex toys: Again, with the funny looks? C’mon girl. You and I both know what’s up with that drawer next to your bed! You put them in or near your vagina for (maybe) a couple minutes a week and then they spend the rest of their days getting into all kinds of hijinks and crazy adventures with your other vibrators and dildos while you’re at work (or when Buzz Lightyear is looking for the turn up) and collecting bacteria in your drawer. Either way, you want to make sure you’re cleaning these things often and well. These people seem to have some good tips. And while we are at it, please pay attention to any other things you are putting in your vagina that have not yet been mentioned. No judgement zone! As long as everything is safe and consensual and makes you feel good, I say get your freak nasty on. Just pay attention to the chemical content and potential bacteria-party with whatever your object of choice.
- Probiotics: Everywhere you go there are industrial size vats of kombucha, designer yogurts, and $7 specialty drinks that boast billions and billions of healthy bacteria. As usual, your local Whole Foods buyer has taken this whole thing a bit too far BUT there is something to be said for looking at your body as a whole interconnected system. If you are getting a lot of yeast infections, it might mean that the balance of good/bad bacteria is off in your whole body — not just in your lady parts. And like every good Hollywood blockbuster has taught us, the good guys must win! So pay attention to what you are eating (less sugar, more green leafy vegetables, more live yogurt, etc) and consider taking a probiotic. I like the Jarrow brand but I have 0% proof or evidence that this is a better choice than something else, I just like it.
So although there are a few modern inventions that I would like to keep around (heating pads, curly hair care products, vibrators that look like lipstick, etc), most of the new “feminine hygiene” products are actually making our lives worse and not better. All these chemicals and fragrances and additives have turned our happy clams into very sad ones. Every time you put something in or near your vagina you should think: would a cavewomen have used this? Unless you are wearing mammoth fur underwear and eating raw fish with your bare hands, probably not. But we all need goals.
Anything else would you add to this list? What has worked or not worked for you? Don’t be shy, ladies. The more we talk about this stuff the closer we all get to world domination (that’s why we’re here, right?).