Surprise! We don’t pee out of the big hole.
I recently read that 64% of women can’t point out their own cervix. Until I had a cervical cancer scare earlier this year, I’d count myself among them. Many of us were surprised to discover that we don’t urinate out of our vagina. (Props to Orange is the New Black for hilariously popularizing this fact).
In America, we typically learn about menstruation around the same time we learn about sex. And in many places, sex education is still synonymous with abstinence education.
From the moment we discover the miraculous reproductive system that’s been secretly hiding under our own skin, we’re taught that it’s something that should remain private and not discussed until we are much older (like sex).
As adults, we still don’t know our own anatomy.
If we can’t accurately identify the most precious parts of our own anatomy (and we’re too embarrassed to talk about them), problems can arise.
For example, it took me 15 years to learn that tampons were a leading cause of recurrent yeast infections.
75% of women suffer from yeast infections, but I can’t recall really talking about this problem with any of my friends. What I already knew was that yeast infections are caused by an imbalance of pH in the vaginal canal.
What I learned: any organic object that goes inside the vagina (like a tampon or douche) can disrupt your body’s natural pH, leading to a Candida overgrowth. Yeast infections aside, not talking about issues “down there” hurts women in other ways.
Innovation for women’s health is impossible when we brush our problems under the rug.
Menstrual products are the quintessential example. The underlying issue with mainstream period products is that the focus of their innovation has been marked by ways to hide our periods.
Until we become familiar with our own anatomy (and become more comfortable talking about it), we will hold ourselves back from dreaming up new and exciting solutions to the problems uniquely faced by our sex.