To my shame I have had this guest post languishing in my emails for a couple of weeks now. I apologise profusely to the author, it is in no way a reflection on her work, far from it as this is very personal and honest piece, but a reflection on my work load and the element of crisis management that has slipped into my life.
Not everything in life is plain sailing in life and not everything is easy or natural unfortunately when it comes to our bodies and in-particular parts of our bodies that we associate with sex talking about these things are often very challenging. I know that the author of this piece had to “worked up the courage to write” this post and I am very grateful that she did as I think it is a story that fits perfectly within the Pussy Pride Project. Sometimes things are far from perfect but striving for the positive amongst the not perfect is a very powerful thing.
When I was a teenager, I had what I imagine is a fairly typical relationship with my pussy; I ignored it and it, on the whole, ignored me. I was always faintly ashamed of its presence and it remained an unexplored land.
Then, when I was 16, something happened that meant I could ignore it no longer; I was diagnosed with vulvodynia.
The term “vulva” refers to the external female genitalia and vulvodynia is a condition involving chronic, unexplained pain in this area. There are varying degrees of pain, but for most sufferers tight trousers are a no, sitting can be problematic and sex is often downright impossible. There is no cure.
Over the following years I tried countless treatments and saw countless doctors. They would poke and prod and say “hm” and I would feel almost apologetic that my wayward pussy was causing so many problems and not responding to any treatments. No-one is sure what causes this condition, but the nerves that end in the vulva, especially the pudendal nerve, are usually implicated in some way. Considering the fact that 25% of women will experience vulvodynia symptoms at some point in their lives, you could be forgiven for thinking that we would know more about it by now. I can’t help but think that the shaming and general sidelining of the intimate female anatomy have led, in part, to this situation.
Vulvodynia is a very difficult thing to talk about with people and sufferers can end up feeling isolated; alone with a broken pussy and suffering in silence. Over the years of failed medical interventions I subconsciously received the message that this condition was somehow my fault. Maybe I’d had sex too vigorously at some point. Maybe I should just wear skirts and the problem would disappear, as per one helpful doctor. Maybe I was just making the whole thing up because I didn’t like sex.
Needless to say, this was all nonsense and I eventually realised that it was going to be up to me to find a way to deal with this condition and make some kind of peace with my pussy. If there has been one good thing to come out of having vulvodynia, it is how familiar and comfortable I now am with my puss. I know its every colour and fold, I know what it looks like on a good day and on an off day. In short; I know when something is wrong. Out of necessity, I have learnt to listen to what she is telling me much more carefully so I can avoid activities that are going to hurt and can navigate myself and my partner around this tricky area so as to enjoy pleasure while keeping pain to a minimum.
When I first started tentatively exploring my pussy with the aid of a mirror, I was not impressed by what I saw. I thought my inner labia were weirdly long and the colouring was unattractive. Over the years, though, my judgement has softened and I’ve learned to love her. She is unique and perfectly fine just the way she is. I’ve realised that it’s not her fault that she is in pain and we are now a partnership, working together to get through the bad days and enjoy the good days.
For some women with vulvodynia, a type of surgery called vestibulectomy can provide relief from the pain. This involves cutting away the parts of the labia that hurt. The healing time is lengthy, but for some women it is worth it.
It makes me sad, then, that some women would consider having similar surgery for cosmetic reasons; i.e. because they, too, have received the message that their pussy is not right the way it is, even though it is fully functioning and able to provide them with pleasure. It breaks my heart that these women may end up with pain and complications from surgery when there was absolutely nothing wrong with them to begin with.
Please, ladies, don’t put your pussy under the knife unless you absolutely have to. Get to know her without judgement and try to learn to love her just the way she is. Get to know just what she looks like; that is the way she was meant to be. Start listening to what she is telling you so that you will know if there is ever a problem that needs checking out.
I don’t believe you can truly love yourself until you love your pussy. So, ladies, grab a mirror and get started on the path to pussy love today.