As someone who went six years without a vulvodynia diagnosis, I know a little about what consequences come from not understanding your body. One 'infection' after the other, I struggled from one specialist to the next, learning about my vagina in a way very few people do outside of pregnancy. A year, a good doctor, and a vestibulectomy later, I'm finally able to talk about my health problems without shame.
But it took a lot, right? Too much. Those that menstruate are not encouraged to know about what goes down, and where it all takes place. This means that like me, there are many young adults who know a rough biology sketch of what's below the waist, but beyond that, they bite their lip and hope for the best.
A month or so ago I was in conversation with my brother and his partner - a wonderful cisgender woman - at dinner. The talk turned to menstrual health, and you could feel an actual hush fall over the table. As if we were pirates in a busy bar in 17th century Nassau, about to discuss a daring mutiny. But we were talking about VAGINAS! Vaginas!! My inner-feminist (the part of me that always knows better) died as I felt myself stealing looks at the people in tables near us. Had they heard us? Talk about, ooh, vaginas?! It was ridiculous. But we spoke anyway, and even though it felt like we were discussing something embarrassing, it was also super informative. Why? Cause we were finally sharing stories of things we would normally keep to ourselves until we were freaking out enough to Google them. OR keep to ourselves until they did us wrong. And that can't be the answer anymore. It's not cool that we only learn about something so innate to us when there's a problem with it. No more.
So, people. What's to be done? Well, for one. We need to start talking about periods. Not 'that time of the month'. Not 'the crimson tide', or 'Aunt Rose'. No. Say it with me, 'menstruation'. 'Periiiooood'. Talk about it! Study it! KNOW THY VAGINA. Your cycle is a good place to start. You can check out Clue's blog for some incredible articles on everything from which hormones you produce at what point in your cycle, through to gyne tips and resources for trans women. They are inclusive, sex-positive, and just downright amazing.
You can also download the Clue app to track your period and learn more about your body. It's (almost but not actually) mystical it's so accurate. Get going, honey!
P.S. I'm a Clue ambassador. See what that entails here, and expect loads more period-positive content coming your way on toofufu!