The questions have started rolling in since I posted my “Got a Sex Question?” caricature to my Facebook account. Many of the questions so far are related to vaginal health so I thought that I would write a blog post about how I became somewhat of a “vagina whisperer.”
Several years ago, I was invited to do a public presentation about “the vagina.” When I contacted the organizers to ask about the agenda they sent back this invitation:
You are cordially invited to attend a presentation on:
Presented by Maureen McGrath RN NCA
Dinner to follow at 8 pm
I was mortified! I thought I was going to be part of a line up of speakers. You now, kind of throw the vagina in the midst of some other presentations so nobody would really notice? How could I possibly talk about the vagina for one hour? What did I know about the vagina? Dinner right afterward? What if they served steak?
It is not my style to let fear get in my way of a commitment so I did what I normally do when faced with challenges that push my boundaries… I decided this was going to be the best damn vagina talk anyone had ever heard!
You can say it was my entry into a world where I would eventually become an expert, a dark hardly-thought-of-barely-spoken world. It was perhaps my best presentation because it was something no one really had ever addressed publically.
I learned a tremendous amount about the vagina and myself as I prepped for that talk. Talking the taboo was something I could do and saw value in because health education is vital to great sex and relationships.
Armed with an “extra” vagina, and a false vagina (who knew), I took to the podium and asked how many women were familiar with the condition vaginal atrophy? One woman out of one hundred raised her hand.
As I explained that the vagina was a hollow, muscular organ that was the karyon of a woman’s life from intimacy to pH balance, to hormones, to pleasure, arousal, orgasm to elasticity, moisturization, lubrication, love and the ability to accommodate a man’s penis or a baby’s head, I knew I had captured the crowd.
The vagina is a vital feminine organ that is often forgotten except when troubles come that way. I likened the troubles to Joni Mitchell’s song, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” It was also important to let the women know that the pH balance of the vagina may be disrupted by soaps and perfumes. The vagina is like a self-cleaning oven and will take care of itself which means no douches or fragrance.
As I held up my vagina (not my real one) I talked about vaginal dryness, the hallmark symptom of vaginal atrophy and often the first sign. Many women in the crowd who were peri-menopausal were nodding their heads. Perimenopause is a very common time in a woman’s life when vaginal dryness may begin. Vaginal dryness is associated with painful sex and low sexual desire.
But peri-menopause is not the only time in a woman’s life when vaginal dryness may occur. Pregnancy, breastfeeding, pelvic radiation, oral contraception pills and post menopause are also commonly associated with vaginal dryness.
Women may advance to vaginal atrophy (which has the additional symptoms of burning, itching, recurrent urinary tract infections, thin watery vaginal discharge, and post-coital bleeding) if the dryness is severe and left untreated
Lubes during sex, personal moisturizers, and low dose localized estrogen therapy are all options to help relieve vaginal dryness and vaginal atrophy. Ladies, you needn’t suffer from vaginal dryness and/or vaginal atrophy. Talk to your doctor about what you can do to keep your vagina healthy at any time in life, and get back to the bedroom!