Updated: Apr 29
On the heels of Women’s History Month I thought it would be a good time to look at the vagina’s, and thus, a woman's place in history. The world we have lived in has misunderstood, ignored, judged and mistreated us. However, our story is one of resilience and sisterhood. You may balk at sisterhood, but upon deeper examination, you will observe that we are all on a similar journey and are absolutely better together. The number of research projects focused on female versus male health, shows the value society places on the issues that affect only women, very little.
How many times have you had to stand in a room bleeding and cramping while pretending that nothing unusual is occurring? On the flip side, for those who are experiencing menopausal and perimenopausal symptoms: How many times have you found yourself soaked in sweat while others in the room thought that same space was cool? Scientists did not come up with a term for the vagina until the 1680’s, during the enlightenment period (1685-1815). The vagina is an organ that has been shrouded in mystery as something sinful and sinister; which is not at all representative of the warrior it is – fighting daily to keep women in balance and healthy. The vagina strives to maintain a pH that is acidic in an effort to ward off infection that can ascend in our reproductive system and cause major issues. Not to beat a dead horse but bacteria are also misunderstood. Bacteria live on our skin, in our gastrointestinal tract and in our vagina. In these spaces the roles are the same, to keep us healthy. Unhealthy bacteria however can try to undermine our normal flora and cause disruption leading to skin infections, digestive problems and vaginal infections. To decrease this risk we are encouraged to eat healthy and promote the pre and probiotic content in our diets. We consciously think about the major organs such as the heart, brain, liver and kidneys as key players in our survival but we need to remember that each member has its part to play in keeping the whole body healthy.
Hysteria was a diagnosis given to women which encompassed a myriad of symptoms including but not limited to nervous anxiety, sexual repression and/or promiscuity. There was a belief by physicians that the uterus could move all over the body causing different symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue and headaches. Their solution to this issue was to keep the uterus grounded (or bogged down) to decrease its movement and any associated symptoms. For example, keeping a woman pregnant was one way to keep the uterus grounded. This diagnosis and treatment of hysteria was actually documented in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) until 1980. Other treatments of hysteria included any one or more of the following: use of vibrators, removal of the reproductive organs or mental institutionalization.
I salute our women and encourage each one to be reminded of the journey from being misunderstood and obscure to being in the spotlight. May we stand with pride in appreciation of the accomplishments of those who have gone before us. Let us take ownership of our journey from birth to puberty and through menopause. Let us embrace each phase of the journey and celebrate the beauty of our creative spirits. The vagina’s rebuttal is intent on heralding this magnificent organ, the vagina, that has been so long misunderstood with the goal of pulling back the veil to ensure full understanding so that we can take better care to protect it.