We see more information about women’s sexuality and health now, and it seems that what was once a taboo topic is now front and center. Still, there are many women who feel the shame and stigma that came with earlier (and incorrect) beliefs about women’s bodies.
This is for those women. If you want to reclaim your sexuality and sexual health, you can start now with this guide.
Learn About Your Body
Let’s start by getting a few of the unmentionable words out of the way: vagina, vulva, clitoris, g-spot, labia, orgasm, climax… the list goes on.
The best way to reclaim your body is to understand it. Maybe it’s been a while since you were in sex ed (and, honestly, those classes probably weren’t all that helpful) or maybe you have always shied away from personal discussions. Either way, everyone can benefit from brushing up on your anatomy:
“Vagina” gets tossed around, but actually only refers to the internal vaginal canal. On the exterior, we have the vulva (both labia majora and minora, and the external part of the clitoris).
And, yes, the clitoris has an interior portion. The G-spot is actually linked to it. It turns out that most vagina-owning people can’t orgasm from only penetrative sex – meaning that two thirds of clitoris owners need stimulation there to reach orgasm.
Though we get tons of feminine hygiene products tossed in our faces, the vagina is self-cleaning. I repeat, the vagina is self-cleaning. Don’t douche or wash with soap unless you’re actively trying to give yourself an infection.
Pubic hair is there for a reason: it protects the vagina from bacteria and acts against friction. So, if you were looking for a reason to stop getting bikini waxes, you’re welcome.
Finally, vaginas and vulvas are all different. There are different shapes, sizes and colors depending on the owners. And that’s completely normal.
Learn About Your Body
Here comes the fun part. After you’ve refreshed yourself on Anatomy 101, give yourself some hands-on experience. Learn what makes you tick – maybe you don’t need penetration to reach orgasm, but maybe it makes the experience that much sweeter. Maybe you thought anal play was off-limits, but you can trust yourself to experiment slowly.
Whatever works for you – find it. Do it often. That way if/when you are ready to share with a partner, you’ll be all the more confident.
Luckily for us, there has been a sort of sexual revolution in the startup industry. Now, more and more companies are choosing to focus on women’s health and sexuality, such as LOLA, which offers products for the menstrual cycle; and Unbound and What’s In Your Box?, which provide products from sex toys to general women’s health. All of these can be delivered right to your door.
These kinds of products are revolutionizing the way we engage in women’s health by offering an unashamed approach. Sure, they will still offer “discreet” packaging when the boxes are shipped to your door, but the hardest step was getting sex toys and tampons into women’s hands – and that’s what they’re doing. If they keep it up, one day we may not even care about the discreet packaging. I long for the days that a woman can run out her front door, vibrator in hand, exclaiming, “I just came!”
I jest, but that would be rad.
The only way we’re going to get around social and cultural stigmas surrounding women’s sexuality and health is by talking about it constantly. It has to become the new normal. Can you imagine a young girl not embarrassed by her first period? Can you imagine a woman carrying a tampon openly instead of hiding it up her sleeve on the way to the bathroom? Wouldn’t you love to be able to talk about sex without blushing?
Again – do it. Talk to your friends, or if you’re more of a loner you can join an online community. There are apps like Eve by Glow which tracks your cycle, but also offers tips and health insights and provides a community forum.
The New Normal
Once you become comfortable with yourself, the opportunities are endless. There’s a certain kind of power from knowing who we are and what we like – but this is just the first step. Sex isn’t everything, but these are the kinds of steps you can take to truly understand your physical self. It’s different from person to person, but always beautiful.