Love Your Body

Eleanor Braddick-Hughes' Column: Myths Surrounding Women's Bodies

My whole life, I have heard endless myths surrounding women's bodies. From female anatomy and periods, to even myths about sexual desires - I've heard and seen it all. But worry no more! This mini-series is here to tell you the truth, in hopes that by the end, whatever you may have heard about your body that once made you feel insecure will now make you feel more comfortable and confident in it. 

Myth #1: Your labia and vulva should look a certain way, and it stays the same as you age.

Now, this is one that I've heard a lot throughout my life, and it has always made me feel self-conscious over the way my vagina looks! But the truth is that no vagina looks the same; they all come in different shapes, colours and sizes.

Exactly like how the rest of your body changes as you age, so does your vulva, and it will do so quite a lot over the years. We are all aware that when girls start puberty, their whole vagina changes understandably. As your hormones increase, your vagina stretches, meaning so can your labia (Verywell Health). From puberty to menopause, your vulva stays pretty much the same, with the exception of pregnancy and childbirth.

There is no 'normal' way that your vagina should look. It is unique to your body and should be loved regardless of its shape, colour or size! Your vagina is a powerful and amazing sex organ that should be loved for its individuality. 

Myth #2: You can't get pregnant on your period.

Though I've never heard this one myself, one of my friends heard it from a guy she was dating! Luckily, she explained that actually, that isn't the case before something she wasn't ready for could happen. If anything, it shows how little a lot of guys know about safe sex.

Although it is unlikely for you to get pregnant during your period, it is not impossible. It all depends on your cycle and when you ovulate (Healthline). Many people are under the impression that if a woman is on her period, she isn't in her fertile window. However, sperm can actually survive inside the vagina for up to five days (WebMD). If your cycle is short, you can actually conceive on your period due to the crossover with the fertile week.

This also applies if you are on your birth control 'period', known as your withdrawal bleed. No birth control is 100% effective, so the possibility of getting pregnant on your withdrawal bleed is still there if the cycles overlap.

Though the risk of getting pregnant during your period is small, if you don't want to risk the possibility of a pregnancy, then taking the right precautions and practising safe sex is important. More information can be found here.

Myth #3: If your discharge is white or clear, it means you have an infection.

A woman's discharge was a topic I was never taught about in school, yet when questions were asked about it, many girls in my class were told to see a doctor as "it's not meant to be there". 

But the truth is, discharge is completely normal and doesn't indicate that there is something wrong in your vagina! Discharge is a naturally occurring mucus that your cervix produces to self-clean and self-maintain your vagina. Its colour and consistency can change weekly or monthly, depending on how your hormones fluctuate (WebMD).

Having small amounts of discharge or a lot is completely natural and normal for your body. As well as cleaning your cervix, it acts as a natural lubricant for when you're aroused. Don't ever be embarrassed about producing discharge because it is a completely normal thing.

However, if your discharge does start to smell bad or your vagina becomes itchy and sore, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. These symptoms can be a sign of a vaginal infection such as thrush, which can be easily treated and is nothing to be ashamed of (BUPA).

 

I hope that my first article for my latest mini-series has helped you dispel any myths you may have heard about women's bodies! If you have any myths you've heard and want the truth on them to be revealed, please message them to Ellie at https://www.Instagram.com/eleanor.bh/?hl=en