Light a few candles, put on some Patti Smith, pull out your pocket mirror and get a good angle: it’s time to get close and personal with your furry friend we all know as the vagina. Here’s a short list of facts that you should have been learning in your middle school health class while they were putting a condom on a banana for the fifth time.
Love thy labia
No two vaginas, much like chicken nuggets, are the same. Put simply, vaginas are extremely varied in size and shape of the clitoris, labia, amount of pubic hair and more. So don’t worry if it doesn’t look like a Georgia O’Keeffe painting — mine doesn’t either.
To pee or not to pee
Something that still shocks me to this day is the “common knowledge” that to prevent or help prevent the risk of getting a urinary tract infection, consider peeing after sex. A urinary tract infection is caused by bacteria that travels up the urethra and enters the bladder, and peeing flushes out the bacteria that may have accumulated post-sex. Just make sure you wipe front to back, you fucking animals.
Don’t be a douche
I don’t know if I’ve emphasized this enough: your vagina is magical. It is a self-cleaning machine that features natural processes that work to maintain a pH balance. By introducing foreign materials like douches and body washes, you’re going to piss it off (no pun intended). So stick to warm — and if needed, minimally soapy — water.
To quote Jenny Slate, “There is no woman that ends her day with a clean pair of underpants that look like they’ve ever even come from the store. They look like a little bag that has fallen face down in a tub of cream cheese.” According to Vanessa Cullins of Planned Parenthood, “The purpose of discharge is to keep the vagina clean,” and likewise, gynaecologists say that a healthy vagina will release about a teaspoon of discharge in the span of 24 hours. Discharge can range widely in consistency and colour, change throughout your monthly cycle and should only cause major concern if there is a dramatic change in its appearance and/or smell. Your discharge can be a great barometer for your vaginal health, and knowing that the presence of it is normal is the first step to identifying what's abnormal or unhealthy.
Your cycle is fluid, period.
Your menstrual cycle can be influenced by a multitude of factors despite any previous patterns of uniformity. Diet, exercise, medication, stress, age, sleep, travel, alcohol and drug consumption can all have effects on the length and time of your period or ovulation.
Whether you have a vagina or not, I hope this list gave you confidence, knowledge and much-needed lip service (pun intended) to the eighth wonder of the world: the vagina.
Kate Colenbrander is the current video editor at The Ubyssey and the woman of your dreams. If you believe you are her fiance please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have concerns about your vagina please call a doctor.