The closer I got to my book tour (which I’m on now! Hello, Chicago!) for Whatís Up Down There? Questions Youíd Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend, the more resistance I faced from those who think weíre better off not talking about vaginas. If youíre one of those people who thinks vaginas are best kept quiet, this post is for you. Hereís an example from my email box.
I do not get the whole Vagina Talk thing.
I didnít understand Vagina Monologues. I can say ďvaginaĒ but really have no reason to do so. I am an entire person, not just a vagina. I think talking about vaginas actually takes away from the fact that we are women, we are entire beings of emotion and intelligence. So I donít think we should focus on vaginas.
I am a very open person regarding sex, and have I raised 3 daughters to do the same. We have discussed sexual preferences, even such things as anal intercourse. But I donít understand all the fuss. I am a woman, and I enjoy sex, but I can be all that I can be without standing up and shouting the word vagina.
So why not talk about vaginas?
When I got this letter, I spent an hour writing a loooooong response, which Iíll abbreviate for you here. Basically, I think we must talk about vaginas because we should talk about all of our body parts. We talk openly and without shame about our big toes, our eyeballs, our elbows, and our belly buttons. So why not talk about vaginas?
But thereís an even more important reason. Unlike the arm or the pinkie finger or the nose, the vagina carries with it a lot of baggage. Vaginas give us unique joys and sorrows as women. We birth our children through them, have mindblowing orgasms with them, and all too often suffer terribly because of them. Way too many women have suffered traumas in the vagina. Rape, sexual molestation, abortion, painful sex, even traumatic experiences at the gynecologistís office, can come back to haunt you if you donít talk about them. You may wind up with chronic pelvic pain or cervical cancer or a herpes outbreak that just wonít go away. And you may be suffering emotionally in other ways that you donít even associate with your vaginal health and experience. When you ignore your vagina and keep silent about it, physically or emotionally, things fester.
My patient Hillary came to me because she had been trying to get pregnant for over four years. She took her temperature, peed on sticks, had sex at the right time, ate well, and prayed. And every month, when she began to bleed, she cried. She had done all the fertility tests, and everything came back normal. No one could explain why she wasnít conceiving, so she came to me — the gynechiatrist.
When I asked her to talk about her vagina, Hillary confessed that she had been molested by her uncle when she was a little girl. She had never told her mother or stood up to her uncle. Instead, she buried it deep within her pelvis and hoped it would go away. Then she found out he had molested three other girls in her family. And she feared for the safety of his own children, who were still young.
When I told her that we carry our traumas deep inside and they may manifest as gynecologic problems, she said, ďI need to tell everyone, donít I?Ē And I nodded.
Hillary did tell her family and started seeing a therapist, and two months later, she got pregnant. You might argue that this is just coincidence, but I donít think so. Iíve seen this happen in one way or another too many times in my career.
When I explained all of this to Stacey in an email, she wrote back with a passionate letter about how both she and her daughters had been sexually molested. She told me all the details in a long letter, about how they suffered at the hands of a man, how they have healed, and how they are trying to put the past behind them so they can move on. At the end of the letter, she said, ďThank you for letting me feel heard. That felt good.Ē
Why should we talk about vaginas?
For that very reason. Talking about vaginas opens women up to talk about so much more; giving your vagina a voice can set you free. Itís all part of embracing your power and accepting and loving the whole you. So letís liberate ourselves and OWN this part of our bodies. Say it with me. VAGINA.
What do you think? Have you ever talked to your vagina or listened to what she has to say? Does vagina talk weird you out? Does it feel silly or trivial? Does it feel empowering or celebratory? Do you love it, hate it, feel indifferent to it? Do you carry any traumas in your vagina? If you gave your vagina a voice, what would it say?