Tackling Women's Sexual Health Taboos

There are many misconceptions and lack of discussion surrounding women's sexual health. Here we break down sex taboos that women are afraid to talk about.

Fact #1 - VAGINAL DISCHARGE IS TOTALLY NORMAL - AND IMPORTANT

Have you ever taken off your undies in front of a partner and been embarrassed by what you found inside? Don't be - vaginal discharge is 100 percent normal, and actually really helpful. First of all, the vagina's natural lubricants are what make sex fun instead of high-friction. But also, vaginal fluids have a reproductive purpose. The amount of vaginal discharge you experience will change, depending on where you are in your cycle; the stretchy, clear "egg white" mucus experienced is intended to allow sperm to enter the uterus/fallopian tubes. It's an important sign of fertility for women trying to conceive. Your vaginal discharge can also be a great "alert" to health issues in your reproductive system and beyond.

Fact #2 - SEX SHOULD FEEL GOOD (AND IT DEFINATELY SHOULDN'T BE PAINFUL)

The truth is that most women don't achieve orgasm from penetration alone. According to the experts at Maze Women's Sexual Health, "approximately 70 percent of women primarily experience orgasms through clitoral stimulation." So if you're not having orgasms like they do in the movies, don't despair. But even if you're not making your "O" face, sex should be fun and pleasurable - and certainly not painful. According to Nicole Tammello from Maze, "many women experience painful sex at one point or another in their life," for numerous reasons. One of the most common conditions called vaginismus, which Nicole describes as "involuntary tightness of the vagina." Other causes of pain during sex could be infection, hormone imbalances, anatomical problems, or psychological obstacles.

Fact #3 - SEX DOESN'T MAKE VAGINAS "LOOSE"

There are so many shame-causing myths surrounding the vagina! As reported by sexuality journalist Michael Castleman in Psychology Today, "many people believe that loss of virginity permanently loosens the vagina, that frequent sex loosens it further (so don't be promiscuous, girls!), and that childbirth loosens the vagina even more and possibly forever after." But the more and possibly forever after." But the myth that having many sexual partners can "ruin" a vagina is simply that - a myth. According to a report by Elite Daily, gynos can't tell how many partners a woman has had (and if your gyno can't tell, who can?). "The vaginal wall is very elastic and expands during sexual activity and excitement, but returns to normal tone afterwards," explains Dr. Rebecca Brightman, OB/GYN. "Vaginal walls may be more lax after a pregnancy, particularly after a vaginal birth, but many partners won't be able to notice." A vagina that's particularly tight could actually indicate that someone's not relaxed enough or ready for sex - which is definitely not what anyone wants.

Fact #4 - NOT GETTING PREGNANT ISN'T A PERSONAL FAILURE

Although your high school sex ed teacher didn't want you to know this, getting pregnant is not that easy. The truth is that there are only a few days a month when it's possible for sperm and egg to meet, fertilize and result in a pregnancy - the days leading up to, and the day of, ovulation, when the egg is released from the ovary; the egg is typically outta there within 24 hours after ovulation. And within that time, there's lots that could go wrong. Sperm have a surprisingly long journey toward the egg; after entering the vagina, they have to make it through the cervix, across the uterus, and into the Fallopian tube where the egg is waiting. They have a really good chance of dying or getting trapped or lost (perhaps the wrong fallopian tube), and of the millions of sperm that start this journey, only a dozen of them actually make it all the way. That's why, even for totally healthy and fertile young people, the likelihood of pregnancy is only about one in four each month.

Fact #5 - WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT PERIODS, PERIOD.

As craxy as it sounds in 2017, periods still carry a lot of stigma. A survey from period app Clue revealed that one in five American women are so afraid of being "caught" on their period that they aboid school, work, or other events altogether. Because of that period stigma, very few women and girls worldwide feel comfortable actually talking about their periods - even with their doctors. And if people don't understand how periods work, they might also be missing out on all the really important health info that can come from paying attention to their menstrual cycles.

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