I fell down the internet rabbit hole yesterday – the internet VAGINA rabbit hole, that is. It’s just as cringe-worthy as it sounds. Also, it is pretty amazing how women treated their nether regions 100, 200, 1000 years ago. What’s even more astounding is that women still abuse their vaginas today, flying in the face of the best, scientifically based, medical advice available. Women are STILL going medieval on their hoohas!
Example one, the douche. Women have been power washing their vaginal canals since for eva’. The physicians of ancient times had all types of strange beliefs about the uterus and vagina. The weirdest was that the uterus moved freely about the abdominal cavity, playing bumper cars with other internal organs. The uterus could be coaxed back into place, however, by pleasant smells – kind of like an ancient DoTerra oil treatment. If she got really funky, blast her with the most acidic liquid around like wine, vinegar, coffee – only the best for ancient vaginas! What they didn’t know then that we know now – and IGNORE nonetheless, is that douching is not only unnecessary but can disturb the delicate balance of bacteria in the vagina. If I have said it once, I have said it a million times – the lady picks up after herself. No cleanups up there required!
Worse than the over cleaning of the lady parts was their utter neglect, resulting in what was known in olden days as the “sootikin”. If this sounds interesting, something you may want to Google, don’t. As a doctor, I have seen vaginas in various states of disrepair but never have I encountered one where a mouse-sized collection of dirt, sweat, smegma and menstrual fluids has dropped from the vaginal cleft.
THAT is a sootikin my friends – and it’s NASTY!
While I have cautioned you to not over clean your lady bits, please don’t allow rank balls of putridity collect in your vagina – it should go without saying that’s not good either! Once a day washing the vulva ( that’s the outside area) and your perineum ( the area between your vaginal opening and anus) is all you need. Leave the lemon verbena and cucumber melon scented soaps for your other parts -mild soap if you must or just water will do the trick. If your vagina was supposed to smell like a garden it would have come equipped with that aroma!
Last, but certainly not least, is the menstrual cycle. That time of month we are reminded that women are the only creatures who can bleed for a week and not die!
Who’s the weaker sex again?
In ancient times our unique exsanguination skills were more feared than reveled in. Even today, in some cultures, women are banished to mud huts while menstruating. People believed the mere presence of a menstruating woman would cause bread not to rise, beer not to ferment and dogs to go”crazy”. The French believed sex during menses caused “monsters to be born” and the ancient Romans thought the mere gaze of a menstruating woman could dull a sword and believed we all turned to dark witches during our cycles. We call that phenomenon PMSing now but “Dark Witching” does have a certain ring to it.
“Watch Out Y’all, momma’s Dark Witching right now”
In Egypt, Nefertiti was staunching her flow with wadded up papyrus and LINT ( I am kinda seeing the need for a douche back then) while our forefathers’ daughters jammed old rags up their vajayjays ( hence “on the rag” was born). But the strangest menstrual tradition may be the Baul people whose ancient custom is to mix the first menstrual blood with milk, honey, and some other flavorings and pass it around to enjoy its unique “rejuvenating” qualities.
While there is nothing to be feared from menstruating, there aren’t any magical qualities involved either – despite what the dudes of times past believed. No need to hide out in a hut, unless you want to, or avoid bakeries. Just keep your vulva clean, use the smallest tampon you can and change it frequently, or a pad, and pop an Ibuprofen (which actually helps a lot if you have a flow that’s on the heavier side) and you’ll be good to go.
We all may shake our heads at these questionable vintage vagina practices and beliefs, the truth is, women are still practicing unsafe and unhelpful vaginal care…like scraping, steaming etc… I wish oils, and scents, and acid douches could fix all your lady part problems – they just don’t. So, take it from me, if it sounds wacky – don’t try it. But do start calling your PMS symptoms “Dark Witching” – that just sounds badass!