|Issue 11: Let's Talk About Vaginas
Ever wonder about your vagina?
It seems like society has created some kind of taboo when it comes to women really getting to know their vaginas. It started early, when we were told to keep our legs together when wearing a dress, or that masturbating was only something boys did.
So we were never officially introduced to our vaginas; whether that meant looking at them, exploring them, learning how to pleasure them. Over time, we may have given this power away unknowingly. And somewhere down the road, our partners may have come to know the most intimate part of our body better than we do.
So don't be afraid, take a look at the most beautiful part of your body, get to know how it looks, interacts, changes throughout the month.
Our vaginas are quite literally the portal to life, so with a little time, allow respect and devotion to grow. You and your vagina are beautiful.
For the second edition of the "Let's Talk About" series we will breakdown how the vagina changes throughout the month, and throughout the female life cycle.
What is a vagina?
Let's start with the basics. A vagina is the tube connecting the cervix to the vulva, meaning it connects your uterus to the Great Outdoors (portal of life, remember?)
The vagina is made up of walls that are lubricated (the same way your mouth or throat is). These walls are made up of muscles, tissues, collagen, etc. In the same way your mouth and throat release fluid, the walls of your vagina secrete fluids to keep the vagina properly hydrated. When you are sexually aroused these fluids increase (more on that later...)
The vagina has many states. When the vagina is not aroused, it rests at a relaxed state. During a relaxed state, the walls of the vagina collapse inwards, creating The vagina is said to hold an "H" or a "W" shape, neither is better that the other, vagina's just relax in different ways. Just like one of your friends may paint to relax, and the other may read.
The walls of the vagina are made up of folds, this is what makes the vagina expandable when delivering a baby. But these folds also help protect the vagina from allowing anything that should not be entering from the outside world, into the body.
How the vagina changes during your menstrual cycle.
Cool fact: the vagina changes as hormones change throughout the menstrual cycle.
Around ovulation, when estrogen levels are high, vaginal tissue becomes thicker and fuller, while the cervix gets softer. This is because the body is preparing for the potential fertilized egg to attach itself to the uterine lining.
Following ovulation, estrogen levels will decrease leading up to your period. This decrease in estrogen will lead to a thinner vaginal wall. A thinner vaginal wall means higher risk of inflammation and discomfort. Your vagina is also more acidic at this time in your cycle, which may lead to other kinds of physically uncomfortable sensations (think a subtle itch, you can't quite scratch). The cervix will become soft again to help blood flow outwards during menstruation.
How the vagina changes throughout pregnancy.
First note: the vagina becomes more vulnerable to any kind of infection when you become pregnant. This is because the vagina's pH levels are all over the place around this magical time. As a result, your vagina will release more discharge to keep things that shouldn't be moving upwards, move outwards.
This change in pH is likely to also make your vagina feel itchier than usual (yay!). The good news is, in order to help the mini-you grow, the vagina will swell and become fuller due to an increase in blood flow, this may make you more easily aroused and increse your sex-drive.
How vagina changes during menopause.
The decrease in estrogen levels that characterize the start of menopause, lead the vaginal walls to become thinner. As they become thinner, they slowly lose their expandable nature. This leads the vagina to become more rigid, and as the walls thin, the vagina releases less fluid, leading to a drier environment.
Some menopausal women swear by maca root powder to keep their vaginas lubricated, but be sure to reach out to a health care provider or nutritionist before introducing any supplements into your diet.
Daily Meditation Exercise
Here is a daily meditation exercise I have done every morning for the last year and a half, and it keeps my spirits high even on days that feel harder.
Start each morning taking three deep breaths and then mentally make a list of ten things you are grateful for before you climb out of bed.
Taking three deep inhales and exhales, and starting off your day with a dose of gratitude is a great way to boost your mood and start your day off on a positive note.
Here is my list of ten things I am grateful for today:
A roof over my head.
Food in my fridge.
The beautiful drive I went on this weekend.
My past experiences, and how I've grown.
My friend who made time for me when she had a busy day.
The book I am reading, and the author who wrote it.
A bed to sleep in.
Featured Female Healer: Chelsea Etienne
Anyone in need of some sexual healing? I didn't even know I was in need of an intense dose of sexual TLC until I met Chelsea, a lovely soul from Jersey, an island off the coast of the UK.
Chelsea is the owner of Sakti Healing, a homey little healing shop on the magical island of Bali. Chelsea is a shamanic healer who focuses on tantric practices aimed at healing the woman by healing the womb.
If you'd like to learn more, I wrote two pieces on what Chelsea does for a living for women's magazine Blood + Milk. If you are called to connect with Chelsea, she is offering sacred sexuality courses online, as well as virtual one on one sessions.
How do you describe your holistic healing practice to someone who had never heard of it before?
I would say I am a shamanic, tantric practitioner, intuitive body reader and ritual facilitator, who is also trained in Yoni mapping.
I hold space for deep, energetic clearing sessions, ceremonies, elemental rituals, women's workshops and retreats.I specialize in women's healings, regaining connection with the womb and breaking through cultural conditioning. My life is dedicated to prayer – elemental ceremony – shamanic, tantric arts and energy medicine. I practice ancient rituals from unbroken lineages from South and Central America and Bali.
What do women often come to you for?
What is one thing you have learnt about women's health that you wish all women knew?
Knowing your moon cycle (menstrual cycle) is vital. Whether you bleed or not, we all have a cycle - when you understand and know it, you know your hormones, and emotions, and energy. You become more physically and mentally connected with your body.
How do you find balance in your own body, mind, and spirit?
My clients include women who have suffered sexual trauma, self-worth issues, self-judgement, childhood wounds, and sometimes women are just drawn to me but do not know exactly why. We work together to find the root of the imbalance.
Why is what you do helpful in terms of re-balancing women's bodies?
We have been conditioned to hold everything in and we have been conditioned to live in the unhealthy masculine and totally disconnected to our feminine essence. This is completely unhealthy and toxic to our true soul essence. It wasn't until I connected to my womb until I learnt how to walk and truly be a woman
What is one thing you wish all women knew about balancing their bodies?
That the womb is the most powerful centre of the woman's body. If we connect here, we will understand our health, mind and body so much more
Breathwork, meditation, dance, speaking my truth, having my own healers who can hold space for me every 3-4 weeks.
Do you have a favorite quote that resonates with you?
"It is the task of every woman that is awakening right now to establish a reverent relationship with herself,
to cut through all the self negating, false beliefs once and for all.
To throw all the pity seeking, illusory wounding out the window, to cease giving herself away to fit in and to be accepted, and to instead devote herself to discovering the potent power that she holds.
It is her time to take that journey within, to take time to listen to her body, to listen to her intuition and her heart and to live from that place...
When a woman is connected to her true nature,
for the most part she feels whole and complete, alive, peaceful, joyous, grateful, inspired, creative, actively dynamic, all embracing, expansive, beautiful, wise, truthful and sensual...
These are all signs that she is in alignment with her feminine and integrated with her masculine.
Such a woman has the power to transform the world. " - Caroline de Lisser
How can women become more in touch with their bodies and hormones?
Meditation, knowing your moon cycle, journaling, not running away from feelings and emotions, but sitting with them and understanding them. Overcome the tendency to numb or suppress your emotions. Feel into them, you have to dive into your emotions to transmute them. Don't fear expressing your feelings and emotions.
What is one piece of advice you would give your daughter?
Always stay humble. Remember that we are all each other's teachers. There is no space for unhealthy competition, the beauty I see in You is within Me.
We want to hear from you!
Tell us what women's issues would you like to talk about. Feel free to e-mail in topics and questions so we can cover them for you in upcoming Mother Yin Issues in the "Let's Talk About" Series.