5 min read
by Meg Loughman | 02/08/2022
As you can imagine, we take menstrual and vaginal care prettttty seriously around here.
We all should though, right? People around the world are continuously denied access to the resources they need to manage their periods, and it impacts not only their health, but also their self-esteem, education, and economic empowerment.
The first step to feeling confident on *any* subject is getting educated — but, especially when it comes to reproductive and menstrual health, it can be difficult. There’s a ton of misinformation out there, from whether or not hymens exist (or matter) to whether you should wash inside your vagina with soap (spoiler alert: DON’T).
So, we put together this guide as a resource on how best to take care of your V — and hopefully clear up a few common misconceptions along the way.
On all the other days of the month, what you’ve got going on down there is totally up to you. Also, it is most definitely a myth that staying bare is “cleaner.”
However, you should consider waiting until after your period is over to pick up your razor or get waxed. The thing is, you’re waaay more sensitive (yup, physically and emotionally — lucky us!) while you’re on your period, so even waxing pros will experience more pain, and newly-shaved skin will be more prone to irritation.
Of aaaalll the annoying myths about what having your period prevents you from doing—exercising, taking baths, making sushi, etc.—trying to tell people when they can’t get it on is just rude. Orgasms in general are actually pretty great for boosting your mood and alleviating your cramps.
So lay down a dark towel or hop in the shower — we’re all for having sex (or masturbating) on your period! You may even find that all that natural lubricant makes getting it on that much better, but it goes without saying that you definitely don’t need to if the idea of interacting with blood isn’t in your comfort zone.
One thing to note: if you engage in period sex, make sure you take an extra sec to stay safe and healthy. There’s a chance you’ll be more susceptible to infections, but it’s nothing proper protection and clean-up can’t prevent. So as an addendum to this DO, make sure that you DON’T skip condoms & DON’T skip peeing or washing up afterwards.
Seriously. Don’t. Guess what? Vaginas clean up all by themselves! Isn’t that neat? Basically, anything else you’re putting up there is messing with the natural ~flow~ of your V. ????
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be cleaning your vulva and other external bits frequently, including your pubic hair. Washing a couple times a day while you’re on your period is ideal, and to avoid any unsavory side effects like BV or a yeast infection, it’s a good idea to opt for gentle, unscented soaps to keep things au naturale.
Whether you use a manual method, an app, or an aggressively detailed and color-coded Google Sheet, tracking your cycle is seriously useful. One of the easiest ways to stay on top of your menstrual health is by keeping an eye on what’s going on!
First of all, knowing when your period is coming will help you avoid surprise leaks. Plus, making a note of any irregularities in symptoms, consistency, or color of your flow will help inform you if something’s off down there, and if you need to hit up your gyno.
On that note, people with vaginas have been historically overlooked when it comes to their pain, whether that’s emotional or physical. Unfortunately, feeling crampy and bleh tends to come with the package of being a menstruating person, but you know your own body best — if you feel like your discomfort is irregular, don’t just chalk it up to PMS.
If something’s up, you should call your doctor (and no, don’t just Google it). Notice that your blood is a weird color you’ve never seen before? Call your doctor! Smell something funny when you pull down your pants? Call your damn doctor! And definitely call in reinforcements if your cramps are unbearable, because it could signal that a bigger issue is at play, like endometriosis or PMDD.
A huge part of why all of this isn’t already common knowledge is that there’s still plenty of stigma around openly discussing menstruation.
When we talk about our periods with other menstruators, it helps contribute to the spread of (and access to) this kind of information — and the dissolution of antiquated taboos. The best thing you can do to better understand your own vagina and flow is to start thinking and talking about your period like a normal, natural bodily function… you know, since it is.
Were there any misconceptions about vaginal or menstrual care that you grew up believing? How were you eventually educated on the subject? Let us know in the comments!
Meg Loughman (she/her) is a bayou-born, Brooklyn-based writer & content strategist. When she’s not journaling to lofi beats at a cafe somewhere, she likes to moodboard and partake in slow, luxurious breakfasts. You can keep up with her work on her website and tune into her sporadic dispatches & musings on Instagram.
Dr. Brandi Jones, DO is a board certified Obstetrician Gynecologist serving some of the most vulnerable residents of the District of Columbia in a community health center based practice. She is a graduate of Hampton University, and earned her medical degree from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Jones is an outdoor cycling novice with big goals, and enjoys international travel experiences.
by Meg Loughman