Don’t fear the vagina

Picture: iStock

It astounds one that those who have vaginas, or have sex with those who do, are so often perturbed by them.

Vaginas. Vaginas. Vaginas!

This supposedly childish way to get people’s attention is still a pretty effective method. Vaginas are often a hot topic. Whether directly or indirectly, people just cannot resist a conversation that touches on this part of the human anatomy. People are captivated by vaginas: what they do, who does what to them and plenty more. The tête-à-tête I’d like to zero in on here is the dissonance that comes with many loving and being grossed out by vaginas.

Now, I’m quite a fan of them. Everything about them – the taste, smell, look, joy and pleasure they bring, often by myself, thank you very much. So it astounds me how often I stumble into a chat where those who have vaginas, or have sex with those who do, are perturbed by them. So many are uninformed, grossed out and place value and moral judgments on the way they look, smell, taste and, of course, how they’re used.

This always gets to me, especially when I see people being so misguided about their own vaginas and what keeps them healthy. You see people posting pictures of intimate washes, some speaking about using apple cider vinegar (because totes natural) and, my least favourite, the ones who compare vaginal lips to sandwiches. It really would be laughable if it didn’t pose serious consequences for vaginal health. You then get the cishet men who never miss an opportunity to share their own opinions about something they don’t have and more often know absolutely nothing of substance about.

They’re ones who link the look, smell and taste of certain vaginas to morality – “only hoes have vaginal lips that look this big”; “if she tastes like this she probably has so many other guys putting in that work”; or, “nah, I prefer my girl to smell like fruit, otherwise I know she’s messing around”.

All the sighs.

I can say with utmost confidence that most of these opinions are formed without any factual information. More so, a lot of people with vaginas are in turn grossed out by their vaginas because they pay way too much attention to these false opinions. Vicious cycle, right?

Only way out of this is to stop keeping our vaginas hidden from sight and conversation. The only way you’ll know more about your vagina is to learn about it! Don’t just read about it but look at it. Lie down with a mirror or squat over one, take selfies, use your fingers to explore the folds. If you don’t know what it looks like, tastes likes, smells like, how would you ever know if something actually is wrong? We speak about the repulsion that people have for vaginas (even from those who own them) often and it troubles me. I’ve met plenty of women who aren’t fans of touching themselves for sexual purposes – and I’m content with the fact that this may simply be personal preference. But for other reasons? It could be detrimental to your health when you aren’t aware of the “normal” state of your vagina.

Many more vagina bearers alter their vagina’s smell and taste (and pH level, might I add) with douches, intimate washes and scented soaps. But all of this is wrong, because normal, healthy vaginas are self-cleansing and should be left as nature intended.

I am cognisant of the fact that anything other than leaving them be has patriarchal reasoning behind it – as if everything to do with vaginas, and those who have them, needs to be decided by men, right? But don’t be persuaded by the “perfect model” of a vagina that should smell like anything other than a vagina. If the person tasting or smelling it can’t deal with it, close your legs and leave. I have no respect for anyone who’d put my vaginal health at risk because they have no clue what goes into keeping it healthy.

Healthy sex begins with a sound mind, appetite and body, right? Including your genitals. So why should we not treat our vaginas with the love we treat our general health? My personal faves for a healthy vagina include wearing cotton underwear, healthy eating (plain yogurt, fresh fruit and veggies are friends, not punishments) and drinking (water, water, water!), along with great general hygiene, of course.

Keeping a vagina healthy really isn’t a science that needs products worthy of a Dis-Chem shelf – just awareness.

(Unless of course, you feel what you’re feeling or seeing down there is worrying, go see a medical professional for that.)

Most importantly, let’s chat without shame about our vaginas more.

Vaginas. Vaginas. Vaginas!

  • To chat to The Citizen’s sex columnist or ask Tshegofatso a question, you can drop her a (friendly) email on

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