At this very moment, millions of American women are in a secret battle with their own bodies. These women are dealing with self-consciousness and shame and staying silent about a debilitating issue that they’re facing every single day.
This is a medical issue that unfortunately carries a heavy psychological weight in our current culture. These women may be afraid to put on a swimsuit, afraid to be intimate with their partners, afraid to sweat in the gym or even be afraid to get a pedicure.
I’m talking about a condition that is rarely (if ever) discussed in public and mainstream circles, yet it will affect a majority of women across the U.S. – vaginal odor caused by vaginal imbalance.
The healthy female vagina maintains a delicate vaginal balance, but many things can upset it. These triggers include menstruation, intercourse, douching and cleansers, menopause. The result for millions of women? Uncomfortable vaginal odor.
Vaginal odor is the most common feminine issue affecting women. Nearly half of all women will experience it at some point in their lives and for over 60 percent of these women, it is a recurring issue. Yet while we are collectively advocating for fair treatment, equality, justice and respect for basic human decency – women are suffering daily with a physical condition they feel they must keep a secret.
For many years now, our society has embraced treatments and public discussions around extremely intimate and personal issues affecting men (erectile dysfunction and the rise of treatments like Viagra immediately come to mind), yet most of us remain in the dark about the basic functioning of the vagina. This is not right. It shows we still have a lot of work to do as a society to have equitable conversations regarding sexual health.
Vaginal odor is not disgusting. Vaginal odor is not shameful. Vaginal odor should not be kept secret.
There’s nothing disgusting or shameful about the human body and its functions. We must confront our fears and judgments about speaking on this critical topic. The vagina is a complex and incredible part of the human female body and we should openly discuss its care and maintenance.
How can women become empowered to seek the care they deserve? It begins with the courage to have vulnerable conversations, which will remove the stigma associated with vaginal health.
It is a fact that vaginal odor is an extremely common and normal issue that many women encounter. There are simple options available to restore vaginal balance. Silence about this issue perpetuates the fact that many other women who are also struggling with this problem feel as if they are alone. It is so important for women to use their voice so we can share that effective and inexpensive solutions DO exist. In order to address the problem and reduce the stigma and shame we must start with a conversation.
In my work, I hear from women every week who deal with this issue and how it’s affecting them physically, mentally, socially or emotionally. Because of the shame and secrecy surrounding vaginal odor, their negative experiences and outcomes are more intense and prolonged. Some women are even reluctant to seek help.
This makes me sad because the solution is often a simple and quick one, and these women could easily return to their normal balance and lives.
So, let’s come together to break down the barriers and fear around vaginal well-being. The vagina is a complex and incredible part of the female human body and it’s more than okay to openly discuss its care and maintenance.
When more and more of us step forward to talk about our vaginas without shame, courageousness and vulnerability will spread from woman to woman across the country. As a result, we’ll see millions of women come out of the shadows to ask for the care they deserve.