Stay vigilant, ladies.
Vaginas do so much for us, but most of the time we don't really appreciate them. They give us pleasure and are instrumental in the miracle of life. But there are times when all we concern ourselves with is hair removal or smell.
We do things to our vaginas that we really shouldn't, like douching and washing it on the inside. We can get yeast infections, STDs, HPV, and of course, our periods. Some women may celebrate their periods (aside from when they don't want to be pregnant), but most of us don't, since menstruation can be painful and messy.
A lot of people use "vagina" as a catch-all term when referring to the vagina, but the outside, visible parts like the labia, clitoris, urethra, and vaginal opening are actually the vulva. The vagina, on the other hand, is the muscular passageway that connects the vulva to the cervix. Vaginas and vulvas come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors — there's no "one size fits all," and when aroused, the vagina can double in size.
Because we tend not to pay careful attention to our vaginas, they have a tendency to let us know when there's something wrong. If there's itching, irritation, bloody discharge (not related to your period), bad-smelling discharge, and any changes in smell, consistency or amount, that's your vagina telling you to get to the doctor and have it checked out.
We need to be mindful about our vaginas because they're not indestructible. And a recent article on Women's Health Magazine discussed the five ways you can hurt your vagina.
1. You can bruise your vagina.
Remember when you were a teenager and you insisted on having a boy's ten-speed bike... and then you promptly fell off of it, making your vulva slam hard onto the straight bar on the bike? No? Maybe it was me, but believe me, landing on a steel horizontal bar with your lady parts hurts very badly and can bruise you.
If you get a vaginal hematoma, you might notice a bump, swelling and/or black and blue coloring of the affected area. You can also get these from childbirth.
2. You can cut yourself.
Many below the belt injuries are related to hair removal, and anyone who's shaved or had a bikini wax knows they can result in unintentional cuts and nicks. These cuts can allow viral entry into your body, potentially increasing your risk for sexually transmitted infections. Be sure to get checked out by a doctor if you notice a lesion or a bump so you can rule out genital herpes or warts.
3. You can burn the hell out of yourself.
When you get a Brazilian or do it yourself, hot wax is involved. And if the wax is too hot, it can cause major irritation and even burns. No one wants a burned vulva or labia — it's painful just thinking about it.
Make sure that your waxing technician not only knows the exact right temperature, but also uses a thermometer to gauge it. If you're doing it yourself, test the temperature of the liquid wax on your wrist before you apply it to your sensitive bikini area.
4. You can tear your labia.
If you're too dry down there and didn't use (or have) enough lubrication, you can rip your labia. It's easy enough to tell if you have a tear if you see blood coming from the area, feel uncomfortable peeing, and/or have pain after having sex. In addition, while tears aren't that common, you can get them a little more frequently if you're using a sex toy with too much force.
If you think you have a tear, go to the doctor. The good news is that often, the treatment plan is to just let the tear heal on its own, though there are times stitches may be needed.
5. You can break or fracture your pelvic bones.
Again, this is a fairly rare occurrence, but according to the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, only about eight to nine percent of blunt trauma incidents — falls and car of bike accidents — result in injuries to the pelvis.
Luckily, most pelvis fractures are minor, and while they're painful, they usually don't require surgery. However, if you've been in an accident or are worried about a break, make sure to get an X-ray to find out for sure.
The best course of action is to take care of your lady parts because they can get injured just like any other part of the body. And you want your vagina to be healthy for your entire life.