Don’t panic, you haven’t missed out on ‘vagina week’.But I do want to talk about vaginas today, because after a boozy afternoon with some of ‘the girls’ this weekend, I noticed that in spite of being middle-aged the topic of vaginas still dominates our conversation and it starts usually somewhere between the second and third bottle of wine.
We accuse men of being obsessed with their penises, but give a group of women some cheap wine and a soapbox, and we clearly suffer from a similar worship of our Hoo-Has.
I have named these conversations The Vagina Dialogues.
Have you ever thought about your vagina’s evolution from your teens to menopause?
I started my vagina dialogue with my friends in my teens when I was at a girls boarding school. This was before the enlightenment of Cosmopolitan, selfies and Snapchat – it was a more innocent time when vagina talk took place in the playground and revolved around who had got their period already and the tampon/pad debate.
Of course the girls who had ‘done’ it already, (their elevated status separating them as far away as possible from the vestal virgins, to the other side of the playground with the smokers), had already moved onto the next stage of their vaginas’ evolution.
When we girls got together in our twenties, although we might begin the evening with small talk pertaining to our careers (yawn), like who was shagging who in the office, without even realising it the conversation would shift swiftly back to the safety of our vaginas, rather like when men hold their dicks for comfort.
Sub-topics might include men, relationships, sex, the elusiveness of orgasms in the hands of men, vibrators versus men, and whether we were ‘getting any’, but all we were really worried about was if our vaginas had all reached similar development milestones at the same time.
It was about this time that we finally began to understand the true multi-functioning diversity of the vagina.
The vagina had seriously entered the building.
Because while men may think with their penises, the sad fact is that the phallus cannot multi-task.
Then in my thirties the vagina dialogues became interconnected with the excitement of impending birth and the inevitable changes to our body as a result – most obviously how birth would impact our vaginas. Pooing on the delivery table in front of some hot, young junior doctor like George Clooney was our biggest fear, until after the birth when the concern switched to the aesthetics of our newly-sculpted vagina and vulva as a result of (unplanned) episiotomies and stitches.
And we asked ourselves if we could ever contemplate having sex again.
Some of us were brave enough to take a mirror down below to check out the midwife’s handiwork; the less brave among us simply said a prayer.
This was followed by a period of intense mourning for our vagina’s loss of youth and eventually a re-invention of sorts. We knew that our vaginas might never feel the same again, but we carried their new plus-size stoically, with a certain womanly prAnd that question over whether she would be able to regroup and tighten or would remain in her new, post-partum tunnel shape, (more suited to the wider berth), remained unanswered for some time.
Reassuringly, catch-ups with friends in my late-forties are still dominated by vagina dialogues, but these days the conversation focuses on whose periods have stopped, who is on HRT and whether we can really be bothered to have sex anyway. We women have come full-circle and nature is putting our vaginas through the mill again, this time in the form of menopause.
The unspoken word around the table these days is ‘prolapse’.
It’s not a word that is bandied about lightly, even in female circles, but it is whispered around the dinner table by those mature women brave enough to laugh at the really fucked up realities of ageing. Suffice it to say, one of our major missions in life has become the health of our pelvic floors. There is a lot of pelvic floor exercising going on behind closed curtains these days – exercises we all know we should have done years ago – in the hope that it’s not too late to repair the damage caused by that whopping baby that shot out of our vajajay, destroying every uterine ligament in the process.
Sadly, everyone seems to know ‘someone’ who has experienced a pelvic prolapse. We hear horrific tales of vaginas that hang out in public or have to be lifted surgically with special vaginal mesh, even stronger than Spiderman’s web – it is the stuff of midlife nightmares.
Did you know that your vajayjay can become that fragile in middle age that it can suddenly collapse like a pack of cards?
PING! One minute you’ve got a fully-functioning vagina and the next minute it’s smiling up at you from the floor.