Two orange slices on a plain background, suggestive of a vulva

One of my proudest parenting moments happened in my in-laws’ minivan.

We were going out to dinner, van packed to the gills- and my daughter announced, “My vulva is itchy!!”.

A few of the men in the car blushed. My mother-in-law looked suprised. But I was pleased as punch. Because I’ve been very intentional about making sure my daughter knows the names of her parts and isn’t afraid to talk about them.

I grew up in a home where it was acceptable to talk about my body. My mom bought me the books and had the talks. But still, I was an adult before I realized that “vagina” didn’t encompass my external genitalia.

Fast-forward a few years and this blindspot in my anatomy could have been a serious handicap.

During my first pregnancy/childbirth, I experienced a bladder prolapse. And my experience seeking ACCURATE information and empowering healthcare was eye-opening:

I learned what I didn’t know.

I learned what my medical providers didn’t know.

I recieved a crash course in my own anatomy.

I learned the value of advocating for one’s medical care.

And I learned how easily the medical needs of women and people with vaginas/vulvas are brushed off by our first-line resources for medical care.

When diagnosed with any type of pelvic health issue, it’s hard to know exactly what is going on. It’s difficult to describe. You don’t know who to turn to for help.

And its very easy to write off symptoms as the “price of giving birth”.

Fortunately, I’m a researcher my nature and profession. And some might say I’ve got a stubborn streak. So by the grace of those traits I didn’t get stuck on the tail end of societal taboos and bad information. My blindspot did not become a handicap.

For better or worse, I dug in so deep I never got out- and here I am today, writing to you.

To advocate for our own healthcare, to understand and consent to medical procedures performed on our bodies, we need to be able to name our anatomy.

You can’t talk about something you don’t have words for.

On a related note, we need to normalize conversations around pelvic health so that when people have an issue, they’re not only able but willing (and comfortable?) initiating conversations.

👆🏽This is why I talk about pretty personal ish on the internet.

Read more in this article that got me thinking:

Viva la Vulva: Why We Need to Talk About Women’s Genitalia (author, Eleanor Morgan)

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