“The Vagina is an amazing organ. Truthfully, most females do not give their vagina a second thought unless…” These are the opening words to a blog post I wrote (on my other blog) in April of 2013.
The vagina is an amazing organ, as is every organ in our human bodies. I find it interesting, the varied reactions I get, when a conversation about the vagina is started. I have seen the reaction much like a “deer in the headlights”, or “let’s change the subject,” to “excuse me, I must go now”. Depending on the crowd, I may get a few women ready for conversation. Maybe it is the nurse in me, or maybe something else and I do have some thoughts, but talking about any body part or its biological function just comes naturally to me.
Vaginas need TLC. Every part of the body needs to be cared for and given what it needs to function at its biological best. The vagina needs and deserves this same level of care.
Let’s talk about the vagina from the perspective of a 40 year old and on up body. Our body ages. That is just the way it is. We can seriously slow aging with our lifestyle medicine choices but we can’t defy aging altogether. Body parts get drier as we age. Think of a Daisy in June. It is juicy, moist, dewy, and plump with life. As the Summer rolls on the Daisy changes, ages, dries out by Autumn. A Daisy in June looks a lot different from a Daisy in late September. The seasons of human life are a bit longer, gratefully, but the same things happen. We dry up.
As other parts of our body age, we change the way we care for them. We add in new habits of care to revitalize organs and organ systems as they age. Skin, hair, teeth, joints, eyes, digestive tracts, etc. all have minor alterations in functioning that we learn to adapt to and live differently to best support their functioning throughout the years.
When I was younger, I washed my hair daily for fear of the greasy hair issue. I conditioned only the ends of my hair as my scalp was quite capable of producing plenty of lubrication for scalp and hair. As I have aged, I wash my hair less frequently and use a non-sudsing shampoo (contains no sudsing agents / ingredients to dry out my hair or my scalp). The shampoo is 100% plant / herb cleansers and very gentle, non-drying, on my hair. Despite this non-drying “stuff” I use, I also condition the entire length of my hair and rub the conditioner onto my scalp like skin lotion. No, I never did this “condition from scalp to hair ends” as a kid, teen, or younger adult.
Skin care is another area we naturally care for differently as we age. Aging skin just gets drier like the Daisy. No one thinks a thing of slathering on more body lotion as the skin gets drier in the fall and winter seasons or in the fall and winter seasons of life… think about that one. As skin gets drier, we take care of it differently.
This same concept needs to be applied to vaginal care. The vagina is mucous membranes. In a very simplistic way, this means skin that produces its own moisture, lubrication. As the vagina ages, it produces less of these self moisturizing fluids. When the skin on our hands, face, feet, and overall body dry out, we moisturize. The vagina needs and deserves the same TLC. It is good preventative maintenance.
When a woman starts recognizing the signs of menopause, it is definitely time to start daily moisture replenishing of the vaginal mucosal tissues. This is why I formulated and started making my Voluptuous V™ ointment in 2013. I had female clients and friends complaining about the change in their vagina’s natural moisture level. As we age, if we cared daily for our vaginas with a little moisturizing and herbal TLC, we could keep its environment juicier and healthier than vaginas that get ignored. Yes, rub an emollient moisturizer onto the vulva and inside the vagina daily. Maybe use twice daily if one can remember. It is not any harder than remembering to put moisturizer on our faces. Keeping the vaginal tissues moisturized and nourished will help to prevent the dry, burning, cracking, bleeding issues that can come with aging*. Your face, hands, and feet would get dry, cracked, burn and bleed if you neglected them. No neglecting your vaginas. Vaginal TLC is a gift to yourself.
Many cultures have amazing feminine care traditions of TLC for retaining moisture in the vagina: herbal sitz baths, herbal steams, vaginal boluses, herbal suppositories, sea weed packs to name a few. Cultures who traditionally live in more communal ways and women gather in feminine circles sharing information about life, puberty, periods, pregnancy, birthing, breast feeding and breast care, normal menopause changes and care. Our Culture is moving back towards time honored, female centered care. This care includes the wisdom that our bodies are whole and healthy, that reproductive organs are not medical wrecks needing harsh medical intervention, and that most often gentle, natural care is best.
*These vaginal symptoms are labeled Vaginal Atrophy in western medicine. This negative diagnostic term implies something is medically wrong with our vaginas. No one diagnoses us with something medically wrong with our faces when they dry out and age. I prefer to use the words Vaginal Aging. This is 100% normal just as all aging of the body is normal. Knowing what may happen / will happen / is happening is crucial and key to working preventatively to nourish our bodies in all ages and stages of life. Knowing our bodies age much more slowly when we care for them naturally, feed them whole foods, and support them with preventative natural health care is key to aging with grace, inner radiance, & vitality. Who doesn’t want that?
Growing older, in years, is inevitable. Aging is controllable.
Common Sense Lifestyle Medicine:
When Autumn rolls around, I start thinking about taking care of my hands (face, feet, all skin in general) a bit better. I can tell when the humidity drops. My facial skin feels tighter, drier. My feet would dry and crack if I neglected them. My hands feel the impact of washing dishes without gloves. Time to don the gloves for winter dish washing!
When the Autumn of our own life cycle rolls around, life just gets drier. Pay attention. Prep for dry skin prevention whether it is seasonal Autumn or your own life’s cycle Autumn.
Another common Autumn and Winter (seasonal & life cycle) drying out issue is constipation. Again, think & plan ahead. Use preventative lifestyle medicine changes, with the seasons, to be ahead of bodily changes. This prevents suffering and trying to then recover & repair.
An ounce of prevention IS worth at least 1 pound of cure!