What Are Ben Wa Balls?
If you’ve read 50 Shades of Grey, or ventured into an adult store, you might have encountered “Ben Wa Balls”. (Or maybe you haven’t and you’re wondering what in God’s name they are…)
Essentially, they are small balls meant to be inserted into the vagina (NOT the butt!!) They often contain weights to encourage the balls to roll around within the vagina, increasing stimulation. They are more of a “slow burn” toy, meant to gradually build pleasurable sensations.
Although some women report reaching orgasm through the balls alone, most women enjoy them as a teasing foreplay method - the balls can be left in for an extended amount of time, held in place by your pelvic floor muscles. In fact, some women routinely wear Ben Wa balls to strengthen their PF muscles.
Like other sex toys, Ben Wa balls can be made of a variety of materials including glass, medical grade silicone, and metal. Some varieties are attached by a tether, with a string that remains outside the vagina to make retrieval easier, while others remain loose. The type of material may influence the difficulty of keeping the balls in place - stainless steel or glass balls will require more muscle strength to keep in place, while silicone balls are easier to “grip”.
How Do You Use Ben Wa Balls?
Because the balls are held in place by your pelvic floor muscles, we recommend starting with smaller sized balls.
Before inserting them, lightly coat the balls with your favourite body-safe lube (we reccommend this). Too much lube may make it difficult to keep the balls inside you - yes, they can slip out. Lie horizontally on a comfortable surface, and grib the balls between your thumb and forefinger. Press against the vaginal opening until the balls “pop” into place. You may want to experiment with the depth of insertion.
Although certain novels (*ahem* 50 Shades) may imply that you can immediately wear the balls in public, we suggest wearing them around the house before venturing outside. Because they are held in place by your muscles, if you aren’t used to constantly using those muscles, the balls may slide down. Wear them for as long as you like! Wear them while you partner stimulates your clit, or just sit in a rocking chair for a bit (yeah…. it’s much better than it sounds.)
Just like tampons, the balls cannot get lost in your vaginal canal. To remove tethered balls, simply tug gently on the removal string. If you use un-tethered balls, insert your thumb and forefinger into your vagina and grasp each ball. If that proves difficult, try lying or squatting and bearing down on your diaphragm.
Make sure you clean them well before and after each use - the cleaning method depends on the material (check out our article on how to clean your sex toys for more info).
The “Luna” beads set from Lelo is perfect for beginners - it comes with 2 sizes, allowing for gradual advancement in strength.
“Luna Beads” from Lelo
Botoxing your vagina could help cure painful penetration
When most people think of Botox, they think of face wrinkles and crow’s feet and not being able to move your eyebrows…
But Botox is now being investigated as a potential aid (or possible cure!) for women with a condition called vaginismus.
What is vaginismus?
Vaginismus is involuntary contraction of the pelvic floor muscles when an attempt is made to insert something (penis, tampon, sex toy, speculum, etc.) into the vagina, and effects approximately 1-7% of women worldwide. This muscle contraction can cause severe pain, aching, and even burning or a feeling of being torn. It is essentially a reflexive muscle spasm; Some evidence suggests that the vaginal “flinch” is caused by the anticipation of pain, kind of like when you involuntarily close your eye when the mascara wand gets too close. This anticipation could be the result of prior sexual abuse or other painful experience (such as a yeast infection or pelvic exam), although many women with vaginismus have not experienced any of these things.
According to the The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, vaginismus can be categorized in the following ways:
- Primary (lifelong) or Secondary (begins after having sex normally for a while)
- Global (occurs no matter what) or Situational (only occurs in certain situations or with certain objects)
How is vaginismus currently treated?
Since the spasms are involuntary, the main component to treating vaginismus is learning to control the reflex. Depending on the potential root cause, this may include several components: sex therapy, vaginal dilators used to allow the woman to gain control of her pelvic floor muscles, Kegel exercises (also used to gain control of the pelvic floor muscles), and mindfulness and relaxation techniques are all currently employed as treatment.
So where does Botox come in?
According to Medicine Net:
Botox blocks signals from the nerves to the muscles. The injected muscle can no longer contract…
It makes sense that Botox could be used to treat vaginismus, which is, after all, involuntary contractions of the vaginal muscles.
In 2004, one study looked at twenty-four women with moderate to severe vaginismus who had unsuccessfully tried other treatments. Botox was injected in 3 sites of the puborectalis muscles. The results are quite astounding:
- 23/25 patients had vaginal exams 1 week later and showed little or no vaginismus
- 18/25 patients had satisfactory intercourse after the first treatment, and 4/23 had only mild pain.
- 1 patient was cured after two injections.
- While the patients were followed up for a mean of 12.3 months, there were no cases of recurrence.
Generally, this treatment has become a “comprehensive program of injecting Botox under anesthesia, progressively dilating the vagina during the same anesthetic, and leaving a dilator in place that the patient wakes up with in the recovery room”. The Botox serves to prevent the contraction, and the woman “learns” not to associate penetration with the pain of muscle contraction - simply using Botox alone would mean the patient would have to consistently return for injections. Thus the progressive dilation is continued at home, essentially “training” the muscles.
One study has noted that 90.3% of patients who underwent this treatment achieved pain free intercourse after a median of 3.5 weeks.
What are the side effects?
As with any treatment, there are potential side effects to consider.
- Vaginal bleeding (usually for 24 hours or less following the procedure)
- Mild flu-like symptoms
- Increased urinary incontinence or flatal incontinence
Botox looks to be a very promising new treatment option for women who suffer from vaginismus.
The good news is that vaginismus can be highly treatable. If you experience pain during penetration of any kind (sex related or not), talk to your health care provider.
Is sex better than Midol?
Many women have cramps during their period that make them feel anything but sexy. We investigate the question: does orgasm relieve menstrual cramps?
But in order to answer that questions, we have the understand what causes cramps in the first place.
What Causes Menstrual Cramps?
Most of us know that our periods are the result of the uterine lining being shed. The lining is created in preparation for a fertalized egg to attach- if none appears, then the lining must be shed.
As the cells in the uterine lining start to break down, compounds called prostaglandins are released. These molecular compounds stimulate the uterine muscles to contract. As the muscles contract, they restrict the flow of blood to the lining - without the blood flow and the precious oxygen it carries, the cells starve and begin to die.
However, particularly vigorous contractions can lead to the uterus pressing against the nearby blood vessels that deliver blood to the uterus itself – the pain is caused when those muscles briefly lose their supply of oxygen. (It’s similar to when you get cramps in your side during a run - your muscles aren’t getting the oxygen they need.) Severe menstrual cramps are actually called primary dysmonorrhea.
Additional compounds promote inflammation of the uterus, which can also lead to constriction of blood flow to the uterus, and more pain.
As the uterus contracts, the lining is pushed through the cervix and out through the vagina. If a woman’s cervix is particularly small, the passing of larger clots may also cause pain.
So How Could Orgasm Relieve Menstrual Cramps?
As you might already know from our “30 Day Orgasm” challenge, orgasms have a lot of benefits:
Orgasms are natural pain-relievers: oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin levels surge during climax. This both significantly increases your pain tolerance, and acts as a pain-killer.
Those pain-killing endorphins don’t just disappear after orgasm - they stay in your system, dulling your pain response long after the fact.
Some sources also claim that the smooth muscle contraction of the uterus that occurs during orgasm expedites the shedding process - which means more prostaglandins are shed as well. Less prostaglandins means less contracting, which means less pain.
In fact one study found
that [women] with less dysmenorrhea had higher coital frequency and nearly twice the frequency of orgasm as that of [women] suffering severe pain
So there is clearly evidence to suggest that orgasm (not necessarily penetration) could potentially relieve the symptoms of menstrual cramps - unless the cramps are caused by something like endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease. If you have persistent and debilitating cramps, see your healthcare provider.
Can women orgasm in their sleep?
Most people are aware that men have nocturnal emissions (aka wet dreams) – the evidence in the morning is pretty clear. But do women have wet dreams?
Although we may not be left with sticky sheets, we can most definitely experience orgasm during sleep - so yes, women have wet dreams!
In a landmark study in 1953, Alfred Kinsey found that by age 45, 37% of women in the sample had experienced a dream resulting in orgasm. (We like those odds…) And it wasn’t just a one-off (ha!) experience: women who experienced these “sleep-gasms” did so three or four times per year. Interestingly, a more recent 1985 study found the same percentage of the women involved – 37% - had experienced nocturnal emissions.
What is a Sleep-gasm?
It is an orgasm.
Orgasms that occur during sleep are essentially the same as orgasms that occur during wakefulness.
Typically, orgasms occur during “deep” sleep stages and REM sleep. That makes sense: during deep sleep, blood flow is directed towards the muscles – increased blood flow to the genital region mimics what occurs when you get turned on.
And in fact, the increase in vaginal blood flow that occurs during some REM events is identical to the increase in vaginal blood flow that occurs during erotic stimulation when awake.
That also means that nocturnal emissions may not be the direct result of a sexual dream – it could just be the body reaching a physically aroused state during REM sleep, and using orgasm as a natural release of that arousal. That being said, typically sleep orgasms occur during sexual dreams.
The vagina may lubricate, which may be the only evidence that an orgasm occurred during sleep. Some women report that the orgasm wakes them from sleep.
Why Am I Having Orgasms in My Sleep?
Some evidence suggests that
“Positive attitudes toward and knowledge of nocturnal orgasms, sexual liberalism, and waking sexually excited from sleep (without experiencing orgasm) were the most important predictors of nocturnal orgasm experience”
So having sexy dreams that result in orgasm doesn’t mean you’re unhappy with your sex life, or that you’re not getting enough sex.
It could just be the result of your sexually liberal brain in REM sleep!
Either way, it’s a very common phenomenon. (And not to worry if you DON’T have sleep-gasms – they aren’t the rainbow unicorn of sex.)
A good vibrator is like a good pair of black pumps: a necessary (and sexy) investment.
I have found my Louboutins of the sex world, sans the excessive price tag: the Lelo Mona 2
The Mona 2 is a G-Spot vibrator, but it is oh, oh, oh so much more.
Reasons to Love It
Mona 2 is a gorgeous little number. It has all the basics covered:
- It’s waterproof: baths are now 100% more fun. Who needs bubbles when you can have orgasms?
- It is rechargeable: no cords needed.
- It is decently quiet, even on the most powerful setting.
- It is made of body safe, medical grade silicone: easy cleaning and safe for use with water-based lubes.
But the Mona 2 is so much more than that.
The shape is contoured perfectly to work either for either clitoral or G-Spot stimulation: the slight curve means you won’t get carpal tunnel massaging your G-Spot, and it hugs you deliciously on your insides. It has a very satisfying girth, which gives you an intoxicatingly full feeling when inserted - there is slight resistance as you start to slide it in, then the smooth shaft slips perfectly into place.
The smooth, rounded tip is just narrow enough to provide pinpoint stimulation on your clit - but with a slight tilt, it is easily angled to provide fuller, surrounding vibrations.
The Vibrations and Power
The controls of the Mona 2
It has 6 vibration patterns - I can honestly only speak to the first 4, since I never make it long enough to test the last 2. There is the standard straight vibration, several variations of pulsing vibrations, and several vibration patterns to ramp up the intensity only to bring it back down.
The patterns take all the effort out of having shattering, phenomenal clitoral orgasms: they combine intense pulsing vibrations with escalating, ramped rumbles to bring you right to the brink, then bring you back again. The buttons on the grip end are effortless to press and cycle through.
The Mona 2 has serious power: cranked up to the highest level, I can feel the vibrations throughout my whole body when it is inside me. I don’t even have to move the Mona 2 - the powerful vibrations stimulate my G-Spot in ways I didn’t think were possible. I would describe the vibrations more as rumbles that echo to every sensitive nerve ending possible.
This vibe is also great for couple play - it isn’t bulky enough to get in the way of anything, and it is intuitive to hold and control.
The only issue I’ve had with this toy is that it can be prone to slide just past my G-Spot if I don’t keep a firm grip on it. I think it has something to do with the shape: it naturally wants to slide in to the narrowest part, which puts the curved head just past the sweet spot. But if you keep it firmly in hand, it doesn’t slide.
The price may seem high to some at $160 - but it is worth every single penny.
This is a high quality toy that you will get many, many sessions about. It is the kind of toy you can’t wait to get home to. Keep it in your bedside table, you’ll want it close by.
Purchase the Mona 2 here.
I get regular PAP tests. They’ve never been a big deal for me - my doctor even put warm socks on the metal contraptions that hold you feet, so I was never uncomfortable. The speculum they use to keep your vagina open never caused me any discomfort, and I never felt the little brush they use to collect the cells. So when I had a routine PAP test at my doctor’s office about a year ago, I thought nothing of it.
A few weeks later, my doctor called and explained that I had abnormal PAP test results .
Abnormal? What does that mean?
For some people, it is simply a false result, and nothing to worry about.
For me, it turns out I have a strain of HPV (Human papillomavirus), one of the most common STI’s in the world.
It is estimated that 75% of people will have at least 1 HPV infection in their lifetime - many will never know they have it, and it will clear up on its own.
What is HPV?
HPV, as it’s name suggests, is a virus. There are over 100 strains of HPV, most of which are totally harmless and your body gets rid of by itself: 70% of infections go away within 1-2 years. There are some strains, however, that can lead to “low risk” health problems (like genital warts), or “high risk” health problems (like cervical cancer). It can be transmitted by intercourse, “skin to skin” genital contact, and oral sex.
Unless the strain of HPV causes warts, there are no real detectable symptoms. The only way to detect HPV is through a PAP smear.
The strain (or strains - it is common to have multiple strains of the virus at once) that I had were causing changes in my cervical cells that were detected on my PAP smear. My smear showed that I had some atypical cells, but more info was needed to determine what exactly was going on with these cells.
So, what next?
I was scheduled to go to the “Dysplasia” clinic at my local hospital. Dysplasia just means abnormal growth in the cells on the surface layer of the cervix. At the clinic, I would undergo another PAP smear, a biopsy, and a Colposcopy.
Colposcopy and Biopsy
At the clinic, I stripped from the waist down and donned one of those classy backless gowns. The set-up was the same as it would be for a routine PAP - I lay on the examination table with my feet in metal stirrups and my pelvis tilted upwards - with one noticeable exception: there was a giant monitor beside the bed.
Turns out, a colposcope is a binocular microscope that magnifies the cervix under a beam of light. A 3% vinegar solution is applied to the cervix to dehydrate the cells: this makes the abnormal cells appear white under the colposcope. I didn’t feel anything other than slight pressure during this part of the procedure. Seeing my magnified cervix on the monitor was definitely cool, if a bit surreal.
The doctor then applied an iodine solution - abnormal cervical cells stain brown from the iodine, and normal cells do not. Under the colposcope, the change is much easier to see.
With the vinegar and the iodine, the doctor identified the areas where there were abnormal cells: this is where he would take a sample of cells for the biopsy. At this point, I won’t lie… I stopped looking at the monitor. He inserted a special type of forecep that I learned afterwards is called a teneculum. He then instructed me to cough on the count of three.
One, two, three… OWE.
I coughed, which bears down on the cervix, allowing the foreceps to take a “pinch” of cells. This is called a “punch” biopsy. This happened twice. The sensation was more startling than actually painful, although it did cause me to cramp. I would say it is similar to someone punching the underside of your arm - it hurt for a split second, but the pain dissipates quickly. (Another type of biopsy, called a “cone” biopsy, takes a much bigger chunk of cells, and requires local or general anesthesia.)
The doctor then applied a blackish paste to my cervix, which stopped most of the bleeding. About five minutes after the speculum was taken out, I was on my feet and out the door. They booked my next appointment for about 8 months later.
After the Procedure
I had serious cramping for the rest of the day. My body was not pleased with being violated, and was trying to expel the blackish paste that is applied to stop the bleeding. The doctor told me to wear a pad, and I’m REALLY glad I did. (You shouldn’t wear a tampon, since your bits have been agitated and you don’t want to agitate anything further).
At first I noticed a faint brownish yellow stain on the pad - that was the iodine. After a few hours I noticed grainy black discharge that looked like coffee grounds - that was the paste. I also had mild spotting. Basically, I had a blackish-brownish-yellowish, grainy, goopy, slightly bloody discharge for about a day and a half. Delicious…
My next appointment was moved up 2 months because my biopsy results were not totally clear. There were definitely abnormal cells, but it wasn’t clear exactly what kind of abnormal cells they were. So, back I went to the Dysplasia clinic.
This time, the doctor wanted to sample cells higher up my cervix. Cervical cells change from tall, column-like cells to flat cells as you move down the cervix towards the vagina. The doctor wanted to sample cells higher up in the “transformation zone”, to see if there were anything abnormal going on.
This procedure is called an endocervical cutterage. The John Hopkins Center describes it as:
A surgical procedure in which a narrow instrument called a curette is used to scrape the lining of the endocervical canal, an area that cannot be seen from the outside of the cervix.
It basically felt like a normal PAP, except it caused me to cramp a lot more. Some black paste was applied, so I got to deal with the grainy black goopy discharge for another day and a half.
Now I wait. I have another appointment in 6 months, so I’ll keep everyone posted!
We at FYV are not doctors. If you want more information about HPV, or the procedures described above, please contact your health care provider.
AKA ‘Vagina Farts’ & Why They Happen
You’re in the heat of the moment, legs in the air, writhing around in pleasure when the unthinkable happens: you fart. Except… it doesn’t come from your butt. It comes from your VAGINA.
What the hell was that?!
That, my friend, was a queef.
According to Dr. Jen Gunter, OB/GYN, there are only 2 reasons air would be expelled from the vagina:
1. The air that is normally in the vagina is pushed out (because of a cough, or because another object is inserted into the space and the air has to “make room”).
2. There is a “fistula”, or a connection between the bowels and the vagina that allows actual gas from the bowels to move into the vagina.
Reason #1 is absolutely nothing to worry about. In many women, air is normally in the vagina. The vaginal canal isn’t a smooth tube, it has wrinkles and folds, so there are lots of pockets for air to become trapped. And what goes in, must comes out!
Reason #2 is a serious condition. So if you notice you emit air from your vagina with an audible noise on a very frequent basis, you may want to go to your doctor to rule out a fistula. A fistula can be caused from sexual violence, inflammatory bowel disease, previous surgery, some types of bowel infection, or even childbirth.
Unless there is a fiscula, the air that is expelled is just that: air. It is not “gas” in the technical sense, since it hasn’t been expelled from bacteria, and it isn’t the result of a chemical reaction to break down waste (like the “gas” from fecal matter). It is just plain, non-smelly air.
In other words, there is NO reason to be embarrassed about queefing.
Nor are there any solid, scientifically-backed studies that suggest ways of preventing queefing. Doing Kegel exercises to improve your pelvic floor muscles likely won’t hurt you, but it also won’t stop you from queefing (despite what some people may claim).
So, queef away. Pay no attention to the harmless air being forced out of you, and continue to get your sexy on!
Most people have heard of cosmetic surgery for your nose, your tummy, your boobs… but what about your genitals?
There are actually several types of cosmetic surgery available for women wanting to modify their genitals in some way.
Purpose: To tighten the vagina.
What Does the Surgery Entail?: Incisions are made to the vulvovaginal muscle structure (either with a laser or, more traditionally, a scalpel) in order to knit the muscles and soft tissue together, and shorten them. The vaginal opening can be made smaller by removing excess “vaginal lining” (the mucosa layer). The surgery is typically done in an outpatient facility as a “day surgery” - patients are usually sent home the same day.
Average Cost: $3500 - $5000+
*To see a labeled photo of female genital anatomy, click here!
Purpose: To reduce the size of the labia,, or to “correct” asymmetry in the lips
What Does the Surgery Entail?: Through various techniques, a section of tissue is cut out from the labia - generally the labia minora, although the tissues is occasionally taken from the labia majora. The tissue can be taken from the edge, or the thickest part of the lips.The loose edges are stitched up. Some clinics offer the“Barbie” treatment, where most - or all - of the inner lips are removed, in order to create a single, tight line. Labiaplasty can be performed under general or local anesthesia, depending on the complexity of the procedure.
Average Cost: $4000+
Vagionoplasty and Labiaplasty are the two most common procedures. But there are more procedures out there:
- Hymenoplasty: “restoring” the hymen - with a membrane created from a flap of existing tissue with its own blood supply, or an artificial membrane without its own blood supply
- Clitoral hood reduction: reducing the amount of tissue covering the head of the clitoris
- Labia puffing: injection of artificial filler into the labia tissue, or grafting of fat from other parts of the body to inject into the labia lips
Risks of Genital Cosmetic Surgery
The The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada produced a policy statement on female genital cosmetic surgery in 2013. Below are five of the more troubling revelations in this comprehensive document:
Evidence is currently lacking for the safety and efficacy of FGCS procedures, most of which have no clearly accepted or consistent definitions.
The labia continue to remodel with childbirth and can again undergo significant change with menopause… No data exists that tracks outcomes through these life transitions
During the normal female sexual response the vagina must be able to dilate and “balloon.” This capacity can be adversely impacted by both physiological processes such as menopause and iatrogenic causes such as cancer treatments, radiation, and surgery.
Urethra, bladder, and bowel are intimate with the vagina, and surgery to the vagina carries inherent risks of compromise of these important structures
Women considering these surgeries should be informed of the risks of the procedure, including bleeding, infection, scarring, dyspareunia, alteration in sensation, pain, wound dehiscence, decrease in sexual pleasure, and possible dissatisfaction with cosmetic or other results. There are no available long-term data on the safety or efficacy of these procedures.
“The SOGC’s position does not support non-medically indicated female genital cosmetic surgery procedures considering the available evidence of efficacy and safety.”
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released a document with similar warnings.
The risks are serious, and the cosmetic benefits are not well-documented, nor well-studied. The field is not as highly regulated as other cosmetic procedures, and the results are not often clear - especially in the case of “vaginal tightening”.
Obviously, women’s motivations for desiring such cosmetic surgery are varied, and we would never judge a woman’s choices. We respected and appreciated the choice of our previous guest poster to get a breast augmentation. And we recognize that a woman may make a fully informed, conscious decision to undergo elective surgery.
There are risks involved in any elective surgery. But genital cosmetic surgery is a relatively new field, and complications abound.
We aren’t doctors, so if you have questions about surgeries like this, talk to your health care provider.
aka What the hell is “female ejaculate?!”
You may have seen it in porn, or you may have experienced it yourself: the expelling of copious amounts of liquid through the urethra during orgasm, generally after the stimulation of the front wall of the vagina (aka the “G spot”).
Otherwise known as “squirting”.
The female sexual experience seems to be much more convoluted than the male sexual experience - large parts of our experience is hidden from view, for starters. It is surprising, therefore, that there is controversy surrounding the phenomenon of “female ejaculation”: here is a very visible sign of the sexual experience, and we still aren’t sure what it is or how it is produced! Because there are so many theories out there, we thought we would break them down.
Theory 1: Squirting is Urine
The fluid that is squirted comes from the urethra, so it makes sense that it could be urine. Since urine comes from the bladder, one recent study conducted pelvic ultrasound scans on 7 women after they peed, and during sexual stimulation (both before and after squirting). They found that during sexual stimulation, the recently emptied bladder filled very rapidly, and was empty again after squirting occurred.
To be sure, urine samples were analyzed before sexual stimulation, and after squirting occurred. Urine contains urea, ceratinine, and uric acid: all of which were found in both the samples taken before sexual stimulation, and the squirted fluid. However, prostatic-specific antigen (PSA), a compound secreted by the Skene’s glands (which are often referred to as the “female prostate”), was also found in the squirted fluids of 5/7 of the women.
Why this theory is problematic:
- Many women and their partners report that the fluid that is squirted during orgasm does not smell, look, or taste like urine.
- Women say the sensation of squirting feels nothing like voiding their bladder
- The study used only 7 women - that is a very small sample size
Although the sample size is small, the evidence is extremely convincing. The bladder was empty, filled up again very rapidly, and then was empty again.
Where did all that fluid go, if not out through the urethra?
The fact that the squirted fluid doesn’t smell, look, or taste like urine could be due to the fact that it is extremely diluted - the bladder fills so quickly that there isn’t time for the waste to accumulate in the urine. The highly diluted urine is mixed with PSA from the Skene’s glands when it exits the urethra, which could also contribute to the differing taste and smell.
Theory 2: Squirting is not Urine
The Skenes glands. (Photo from here)
Some studies purport that the fluid squirted during sexual stimulation is produced in the Skene’s glands (the female prostate), and is not, in fact, urine.
According to this study, the glands have long ducts that lead to the urethra. This leads to the possibility that the fluid squirted during sexual stimulation could have been produced in these glands, and travel to the urethra to be ejaculated. In this case, the squirted fluid would be mostly prostate secretions like PSA.
Why this theory is problematic:
- The Skene’s glands are very small - it is unlikely they could produce and store the amount of fluid that is often squirted
As this OB/GYN states:
the Skene’s glands are tiny, about the size of a pea, and are just not physiologically capable of producing any more than a few milliliters of fluid at best
Although the wet spots many women experience are due to the secretions from the Skene’s glands, it seems unlikely that the copious amounts of liquid some women squirt could be produced from these tiny glands.
Theory 3: “Female Ejaculate” is Not Urine, but “Squirt” IS
This theory is mostly semantics. Some studies say that there needs to be a distinction made between the secretions that come from the Skene’s glands, and the large amounts of squirted fluid that comes from the urethra during sexual stimulation.
One study explains:
“…female ejaculation is the release of a very scanty, thick, and whitish fluid from the female prostate, while the squirting is the expulsion of a diluted fluid from the urinary bladder”
Secretions from Skene’s glands = female ejaculate (likely named since the Skene’s glands are often called the “female prostate”): milky, whitish, small quantity.
Squirted fluid = dilute urine: clear, larger quantity.
WHY DO WE CARE?
What do we even want to answer the question: “what is squirting”?
- Many women feel inadequate because they cannot squirt. Understanding what squirting really is might help them realize that it isn’t the magical unicorn of sexual experience.
- In our mind, more research is needed about the female sexual experience in general, so we see this research as a step in the right direction.
That being said, we don’t NEED to care.
If you squirt - is it pleasurable? Is it fun?
Then who cares what the chemical composition of the squirt is, or where it comes from?!
In fact, if it is diluted urine, does that make it any less a part of the sexual experience? (As in: “Oh, it’s just pee. That’s not sexy.”) No, of course not. It is no grosser or more weird than semen.
If it’s pleasurable and fun, keep squirtin! (If it bothers you, or you think it might be indicative of other physiological problems, see your doctor!) If you have never squirted, don’t worry, you’re not any less of a sexual creature.
For those who don’t know, the practice of vaginal douching involves squirting a substance into the vaginal canal, usually with the use of an applicator. The substance can be anything from water, to an acetic (think: vinegar-like) substance, to a scented “medicinal” product. The idea is that the substance flushes into your vagina, and comes back out again. (It’s definitely not the same thing as washing your labia!)
Why do some women douche?
Most women report that they douche for “hygiene” reasons: to cleanse the vagina after their period, after sex, to get rid of symptoms like odour, itching, or discharge, or to prevent sexually transmitted disease.
It’s actually quite common.
The thing is, there is very little conclusive evidence to support these reasons - in fact, douching can cause some pretty serious side effects.
What douching does to your vagina
Of course the exact effects of douching depend on the type of substance used. However, generally speaking, douching can result in the following effects:
- Reduction in the density of normal vaginal bacteria
Douching with any antiseptic substance kills off the normal vaginal bacteria. Even douching with water reduces the native bacteria - it physically sweeps the bacteria away, and damages the pH balance required by the good bacteria to live (the pH of water is close to 7, the pH of your vagina should be less than 4.5!)
The bacteria that is normally present in your vagina helps maintain the pH of your reproductive tract nice and low: this low pH prevents certain other bacteria from colonizing because they can’t live in such a low pH environment.
The “native” bacteria also physically prevents pathogenic (disease causing) bacteria from entering, and stimulates mucous production - another important line of defense against pathogenic bacteria.
Without the native bacteria, there is plenty of room for other bacteria to colonize and grow: bacteria such as Neisseria gonorrhoeae or Chlamydia trachomatis - yeah, the stuff that causes gonorrhoeae and chlamydia - or bacterial vaginosis.
One study found that
…women who reported douching 12 months prior to their clinic visit were twice as likely to have cervical chlamydial infection and that, as the frequency of douching increased, the likelihood of chlamydial infection also increased.
Using douching products with “antiseptic” qualities causes even larger changes in the normal vaginal bacteria.
So clearly, the removal of the good bacteria leaves plenty of room for infection and disease causing bacteria to get in on the action.
- Forcing bacteria from the lower genital tract above the cervix into the uterus/fallopian tubes
Bacteria that is normally found in the lower bit of your vaginal canal can be physically forced up by the stream of liquid into places it isn’t supposed to be. This can lead to inflammatory scaring… and that inflammatory scaring can lead to ectopic pregnancy, early miscarriage, and even infertility.
Another effect of bacteria getting up where it isn’t supposed to be is pelvic inflammatory disease.
That shit is serious.
It was estimated that 20-30% of women with pelvic inflammatory disease would be hospitalized. It is also a very common cause of reduced fertility and even sterility.
One study reported that vaginal douching increases the overall risk of pelvic inflammatory disease by 73% and the risk of ectopic pregnancy by 76%. Those percentages are HUGE!
- Irritation of the mucous lining
Physically irritating the protective mucous lining can reduce how effective it is at keeping unwanted bacteria out.
Douching has been scientifically linked to:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Chlamydia, gonorrhea, bacterial vaginitis, cervical cancer
- Reduced fertility
- Ectopic pregnancy
Douching has NOT been scientifically linked to:
- Promoting a healthy vagina
We cannot in good conscience recommend that women douche. If you are worried about a funky smell, or about your vaginal canal being clean of blood or semen or whatever … go to your doctor. The vagina is SELF CLEANING! Don’t douche.
Orgasms are fantastic.
We could just leave it at that, but you already know that. Let’s go a little deeper; there are some pretty convincing studies out there about the health benefits of orgasms
Orgasms help calm you down, which can lead to better sleep. Climax is followed by the release of certain endorphins that help you to relax.
Orgasms are natural pain-relievers: oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin levels surge during climax. This both significantly increases your pain tolerance, and acts as a pain-killer. Certain types of headaches seem to be reduced after orgasm, and this is likely why.
Orgasm can help prevent cervical infection and UTIs: during orgasm, the cervix “tents” open - this pulls the mucous lining within the cervix into the vagina. This essentially flushes out the old lining and gets rid of anything trapped in the mucous that shouldn’t be there.
This classic study found the following:
…masturbators had significantly more orgasms, greater sexual desire, higher self-esteem, and greater marital and sexual satisfaction, and required less time to sexual arousal
Who doesn’t want to be calmer, better rested, in less pain, with a healthier cervix and more self esteem?
With those benefits in mind, we are creating:
THE 30 DAY ORGASM CHALLENGE.
- You must orgasm every day, at least once, for 30 days.
That’s it. We honestly don’t care how or where, just that you orgasm at least once a day; It can be a quick thirty second jaunt with a vibrator, or an hour long love fest with your partner. We would love if you kept track of your orgasms: how you felt before, during, and after, how you were brought to orgasm, any other effects you notice during the 30 days.
For those who struggle with climaxing, we will totally accept any kind of sexual pleasure - whether self-love or with a partner - as part of the challenge.
Sometimes it feels like sex (solo or not) takes a back seat to the rest of life. There is hardly enough time in the day to breathe, never mind get aroused (that takes work), and orgasm. But that’s an important part of embracing your sexuality: realizing that you deserve to orgasm. It isn’t just something to do when you have a spare moment.
First of all, we will preface this with the reminder that we despise the use of the word “normal” at Free Your V.
That being said, many woman want to know what the “normal” frequency of masturbation is. We’ve been conditioned to accept that frequent male masturbation is “normal” (and even that men want sex more than women do), but we rarely discuss female masturbation frequencies: how often do most women masturbate? Once in a blue moon? Multiple times per day?
A 2009 study by the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behaviour studied the sexual behaviour (including masturbation) of 5,865 Americans between the ages of 18 and 94. We made our own graph of some of the results of this massive survey.
It is clear from the graph that the frequency of masturbation varies by age.
Regardless of age, the most common frequency appears to be “not in the past year”.
So if you’re in the “>4 times per week” category, you’re probably picking your jaw up off the floor at the moment.
Does this study tell us what is “normal”? Sure. If by “normal” we mean the result with the highest frequency for this particular group of subjects…
But one of the major problems with a lot of studies about sex is that they rely on self-reporting. And a lot of people aren’t totally honest when they report things, or may not have an accurate memory of the events they are reporting.
Be honest: do you remember how many times you masturbated last week? Last year? And if you did remember the exact number, would you share it with a stranger?
We need to be very, very careful when we talk about what is “normal.” If you happen to have a very high sex drive, then perhaps masturbating more than 4 times per week is your normal. If you have a lower sex drive, are really tired, just changed birth control pills, etc. then maybe masturbating once a month is your normal. Frequent (or in-frequent) masturbation is not something to be ashamed of. Do it whenever the urge hits you, and don’t worry about it!
So long as excessive masturbation isn’t negatively effecting the rest of your life, have at it.
Violence against women hasn’t stopped.
And until the violence stops, we need to keep fighting against it.
That’s the purpose of “V Day“. It is a global movement to help end violence against women. Activists in cities all over the world participate in benefits and events to raise both awareness and funds for the cause. Rape, battery, incest, sex slavery… they are all still very real in today’s society. We may not like talking about them, but they happen all the same.
Until the violence stops, we must fight against it.
In Ottawa, Ontario, a benefit production of the famous play “The Vagina Monologues” is being performed by a talented cast as part of their contribution for VDay 2015. The funds raised by the performance go towards The Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa, The Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre, and the One Billion Rising Revolution.
“The Vagina Monologues” is an episodic play composed of a variety of women speaking monologues on topics related to the feminine experience, including violence against women. It is powerful, funny, and emotionally stirring.
Free Your V had a chance to speak with two of the talented cast members from the production in Ottawa.
“Samantha Oxley is a civil servant who has recently discovered a passion for performance arts and is thrilled to be making her theatrical debut with this performance in her first VDay.”
“Shirley Manh has been on stage, behind microphones, and in front of cameras since the 5th grade […]This is Shirley’s 5th Vagina Monologues show (her 2nd in Ottawa), and her 6th monologue.”
Why did you get involved with VDay 2015 and The Vagina Monologues?
Samantha: I wanted to become involved with VDay and TVM for many reasons. I wanted to surround myself with the beauty and power that the group of women in this production bring. I wanted to be a part of the change I hope for my future. My mother is a survivor of abuse. I am a survivor of abuse. This movement has a very powerful personal meaning to me.
Shirley: I consider myself fortunate to have been a part of the VDay movement since my first year in undergrad at Wilfrid Laurier University; the Women’s Centre at WLU produced the show every year on campus. That was about 12 years ago! I auditioned ‘just for fun’, and for a chance to perform in an interesting, well-known show. I got cast, and despite the fact that it was my first year, I performed both “My Vagina Was My Village” and “Cunt”, two monologues at either end of emotional extremes. The experience I got from being in that show was not just fun; instead, it was very powerful. I was connected to a deeper part of myself and to others who already had, or were just, experiencing the same transformation. And that’s what has kept me involved, year after year.
What, in your opinion, is the message of The Vagina Monologues?
Samantha: TVM celebrates the beauty of women. TVM is about personal empowerment, growth, and triumph. It honours the collective experiences of women and unites us as a community.
What is the most challenging aspect of being part of this performance?
Samantha: The most challenging part of being part of this performance is channeling the emotions that the content evokes. It’s made me think about who I am, reevaluate myself as a woman, changed how I feel about myself and my gender as a collective. Those changes have been amazing but powerfully emotional. Being part of TVM has made me more aware of who I am, made me love and accept myself and my fellow women as we are, for who we are. That shift in paradigm, although beautiful, completely changed my world.
Shirley: I’m not sure if I’ve ever told anyone this, but personally, I find it a challenge to be an audience member during “My Vagina Was My Village”, despite the fact that it was the first monologue I ever performed. I’ve heard it rehearsed and performed now by many, many other women over the years and it still brings tears to my eyes every single time. You become that girl, who once was living a beautiful life, and then became a victim of unimaginable violence. The dichotomy between those two worlds is stark; the imagery is vivid and can be difficult to listen to. I take a deep breath after every time I hear anyone rehearse it.
What is the most gratifying aspect of being part of this performance?
Samantha: The most gratifying part of being part of this performance is the beautiful and talented women I have had the privilege of becoming friends with. We’ve created a family. We care about each other, we support each other, we are invested in each other. We are all very different individually, but cohesive and collectively. I admire my fellow cast and crew and have learned so much away from them and through this experience.
Shirley: It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to share stories that aren’t your own. It’s definitely fun to create characters around a monologue, but I really appreciate knowing that these stories come from actual people that Eve Ensler met with. Every time I perform a different monologue, I try very hard to do justice to the women who are giving me the honour of sharing their story, and I find that to be a gratifying process.
Did you learn anything from your involvement in this project?
Samantha: I learned that I am capable of doing something I never thought I would do. I learned that I have a lot to learn about who I am, and that excites me. I learned that I have a lot to learn about other people and that excites me even more. I learned to love and accept myself, and I learned that I can help other women do the same.
Shirley: Every year, my involvement in VDay is humbling; it’s a reminder that everyone needs to be empowered, and a chance to practice that for myself.
Why should people come see this performance?
Samantha: There are so many reasons people should come! It’s a meaningful cause and attending means being part of that. It’s funny! It’s sad! It makes people laugh and cry. The cast and crew are talented and dedicated and I think the performances reflect that. There’s something for every woman (and man) in these monologues.
Shirley: Seeing The Vagina Monologues is perfect for people who:
- are interested in a fun night out
- appreciate community theatre and story-telling
- want to contribute to very, very, worthwhile causes that work towards supporting victims of sexual violence and ending violence against women
- will appreciate a ride on an emotional roller-coaster
- currently love women, would like to continue loving women, and/or would like to love women more
PS: We also love men, and love it even more when they come see the show as well!
You can get your tickets to support a fantastic cause (and see a fantastic performance of “The Vagina Monologues”!) here.
aka Why We Need to Use the Word Vagina.
Vajayjay. Vadge. Hoo-ha. Cooter.
Sorry…I don’t speak the language of embarrassment. You are referring to female genitalia, correct? More specifically, you are speaking of the
There. Glad that’s over with.
Guess what? It isn’t a dirty word. Why can Grey’s Anatomy use the word penis 17 times in 1 episode, but when script writers wanted to use the word vagina, network exes did this:
What did they do instead? They used the word “vajayjay”. That’s right, the original script said “vagina” (because the character is a freaking MEDICAL DOCTOR), but it was changed to a word that doesn’t exist to avoid saying the word vagina.
I guess I can understand the confusion, since “vagina” technically means the canal that runs from the uterus to outside the body, so if you want to be clinically accurate when you describe the outwardly visible female genitalia, feel free to say
Whatever word you chose, just use an actual word. (For the record, despite Oprah Winfrey’s usage of it - vajayjay is not a real word.) For some reason, there is still a great amount of hesitation to use the word vagina (or vulva, for that matter). When we try and “cute-ify” the word, we are implying that there is something gross/dirty/shameful about what we are talking about that needs to be hidden behind a giggle-inducing gibberish word.
Even a tampon company was told they couldn’t use the word vagina. A tampon company. Let’s think on that one for a moment.
The vagina is LITERALLY where a tampon goes.
I know where I came from – I came from a vagina. Where did you come from? Wait, wait, I know this one:
That’s right, there is an actual word for it. This isn’t a new word. What words do we use instead?
Vajayjay: Right up there with “pee pee” for level of juvenile
Vadge: Adding the “D” is necessary for correct pronunciation. (“Adding the “D”… yeah. I’ll just leave that right there.)
Hoo-ha: It isn’t a donkey.
Snatch: This word was created by an inexperienced individual who mistakenly thought that the vagina had teeth and would “snatch” their penis/finger/dildo away. Let’s not mock their fear any further by continuing to use this word.
Pussy: aka Porn’s Favourite Word.
Why do we care what people call it?
For one thing, using the proper terms for female genitalia facilitates communication, which facilitates knowledge. In this study, 78% of women surveyed said that the “vagina taboo” contributes to women’s ignorance. We shouldn’t be ignorant about our own bodies. But it’s hard to get solid, real information when your search terms or opening dialogue includes the word vajayjay.
We’re all intelligent women here, so can we just agree to not beat around the bush (pun intended) and call our genitalia by a real word?
VAGINA.Or vulva. Or clitoris.Whatever floats your boat.
“Oh baby, you make me so wet”.
If we relied on mainstream porn to educate ourselves, we would wrongly assume that all women’s vaginas get immediately and conveniently drenched upon any kind of arousal. In fact, according to many porn videos, even LOOKING at a shirtless picture of *insert attractive male celebrity here, according to your tastes* causes the dams to burst. So, if a woman is feeling wet, she is aroused. Ergo, if she isn’t feeling wet, you might as well just roll over. WRONG. Natural lubrication is a complicated and not fully understood process that doesn’t always correspond with degree of arousal.
So what makes a woman wet?
The short answer is: a lot of things.
But you’re not here for the short answer – so here it goes:
When a woman gets all hot and bothered, various factors (such as hormones like estrogen, and certain polypeptides) contribute to an increase in blood flow to the vulva, resulting in engorgement- yeah, your vulva gets bloated. The plasma that holds all these blood cells in suspension starts to seep through the cells of the vaginal wall, creating moisture. Small glands located slightly below the vaginal opening are also stimulated to produce mucous.
The combination of plasma seepage and mucous from the Bartholin’s glands results in the slick “wetness” associated with female arousal. Isn’t that DELICIOUS.
What affects the level of “wetness”?
Sometimes you feel as horny as a rabbit, but when you or your partner go to relieve your need, it feels like the Sahara down there. Other times, it feels like someone dumped a bottle of KY on you without your knowledge.
Your body is a lube machine
Don’t forget that you produce lubrication all the time, and the levels of that regular lubrication depend on where you are in your cycle. So if you’re ovulating, you might produce more mucous –when you get aroused during ovulation, you might think Niagara Falls has taken up residence in your panties. That could just be the combination of normal lubrication and “arousal” lubrication.
The pill can be a pill
Although evidence isn’t clear, there has been research regarding the effect of hormonal birth control on vaginal lubrication. Generally speaking, more estrogen means less lubrication. So if your pill has a higher estrogen dose, you may tend to be dry even when you’re aroused.
Go home vagina, you’re drunk…
Alcohol dehydrates you. Yes, that includes your vagina.
A woman can be so turned on that she orgasms without actually feeling wet, and I think we can all assume that if a woman has an orgasm, she was aroused.
So let’s get this straight once and for all: wetness ≠ arousal.