We have had quite a year. Having been together for decades, this year was the one that most challenged us – collectively and separately. Around this time last year, in the midst of an impending big life change, it became clear that there was something not quite right about us. Things that should have been easy, enjoyable, comfortable all felt tinged with pain and anxiety. We consulted peers, mentors, doctors, the internet, all in search of information that could help to clarify a seemingly unrelated set of symptoms. All too quickly it became clear that what we had come to consider as normal was in fact not and the course of action that should have been taken years ago was finally underway. A final obstacle was removed and finally we could navigate our days just like everyone else – in synch and without obstruction. This opened the door to a whole new set of experiences, simultaneously frightening and thrilling. We began a game of catch up, making up for lost time in the realms of exploration and intimacy. Having finally healed the wounds, we were able to approach each other differently, gently, calmly, without fear of further pain. Today, we find ourselves miles from where we were this time last year – older, wiser, more open, and more fashionably groomed.
Boy, my vagina and I have had quite a year.
Oh, you thought it was about a star-crossed set of lovers, didn’t you? Jokes on you – it’s all about my lady bits.
Let me fill you in on the back story. Prior to spring of 2015, I pretty much avoided my nether regions at all costs. I didn’t really like them, no one else seemed that interested in exploring them and the only person who did, my gynecologist, caused me IMMENSE pain whenever she took a look around under the hood. So as a burgeoning college graduate virgin, I had just about accepted my fate that my lady lounge would never quite open for business – my vagina and my sexuality had made a valid attempt but it had resulted in a failed venture. How did I arrive at such a desolate conclusion? Long story short – I had an undiagnosed hymen septum, a totally not big deal abnormal growth pattern of the hymen which causes the vagina to appear to have two separate openings instead of one. My idiot gynecologist, who I had been seeing since I was sixteen, failed to notice the large fleshy thing partially obstructing my vaginal opening and proceeded to give me more than one complete gynecological exam, pap smear et. al, as I yelped in discomfort, turned white as a ghost, and I almost passed out from the pain. When the same thing happened the one and only time I tried to insert and then remove a tampon, I wish I had put two and two together but since my gynecologist had told me all was well down there, I was convinced it was all in my head and I was just too tight or not relaxed enough or doing something wrong. Even though all the physical markers indicated otherwise, I was told that there was nothing abnormal with my vagina – therefore, it must have been in my head.
Fast forward seven years, the most of which I spent not understanding and not liking any part of my sexual organs nor my sexuality. Sitting around in the college women’s center chatting with a friend, she asked if I used a divacup, to which I answered “NO, I can’t even imagine how to fit something in there.” She then asked if I used tampons and when I told her about the fateful day when I had but then was unable to remove it, she proceeded to casually tell me that the same thing had happened to her and she’d had a thing called a hymenal septum. One google search led to another and a visit to the health center the next day confirmed it – I too had a hymenal septum. I was not crazy – there was something not quite right with the physical bits. It was very easy to fix, and if properly diagnosed, would have been NBD in the scheme of things. Shout out to that shitty gynecologist for causing me years of self-doubt and shame. She really ought to chip in on my therapy bills.
My surgery was quick and easy in June of 2015 and then there I was – ready with my brand spanking new vagina to take on the world and make up for lost time. Wendy and I – a new vagina seemed to warrant a new name – set out on the town, going on dates with men, ready to explore sexuality and intimacy in a whole new uninhibited way. I had sex for the first time in December of 2015 and finally learned how to use a tampon in March of 2015. My discomfort surrounding my vagina was long gone and I felt liberated in a way I couldn’t have anticipated. I began to read everything I could find about vaginas, sex, sexuality, periods – all the things I used to be scared of. What can we take away from this saga, you ask? Better women’s healthcare, better sex ed for girls, better directions on tampons boxes? Yes please to all of that but most importantly, know your vagina and trust your vagina. I know I’m a little late to the party but the female body is literally a work of magic. Its rhythms, cycles, signals, signs, shapes, and intricacies all have a purpose and they do not cease to amaze me. Thanks to this tumultuous and formative year with my vagina, there is now a whole new part of me – Sexual Me – triumphantly claiming her seat at the table. She may be a little late to the party but she is THRILLED to be here.