How do you handle vaginal shame when you think you smell bad? With Cathy Vartuli from http://www.TheIntimacyDojo.com and Reid Mihalko from http://www.ReidAboutSex.com.
Cathy: What do you do when you have vaginal shame and you’re afraid that you smell bad down there?
Reid: I’m Reid Mihalko from http://ReidAboutSex.com.
Cathy: I’m Cathy Vartuli from http://TheIntimacyDojo.com.
Reid: You have a vulva. Do you want to take this first, or should I?
Cathy: Sure. First of all, I think it’s really useful to make sure there’s not something medically wrong. Sometimes vulvas don’t smell good, vaginas don’t smell good, when there’s a yeast infection or there’s something out of balance.
There’s an actual physical problem, and there’s a mental belief that we’ve been taught since we’re little … many of us … that we’re not supposed to touch, it’s dirty, it’s shameful, we should hide from it.
It does smell different than perfume. We are taught to mask the odor, but actually for a lot of people, the smell of a healthy vagina is really hot.
Reid: I would be one of those people.
Cathy: First of all, just make sure, you may want to check with your GYN … your gynecologist … or your doctor, and make sure everything is cool, everything is good. Then start figuring out where you got that belief from. Did someone shame you? A lot of people are uncomfortable around sex, and it’s really easy to blame the other person.
If someone doesn’t think they’re very good at going down on someone, or they don’t want, or that’s not their inclination at the time, they might say, “Oh you don’t smell right,” or “You smell bad.” I’ve had that; I’ve had someone blame me for not wanting to go down, rather than just owning to the fact he didn’t want to go down.
There can be shame, it’s easy for people to do that. If you can identify when you started feeling that, and deconstruct it if you can. Maybe share it with a therapist or a friend, and figure out if you need to hold on to that, or you can let it go.
Reid: Cathy’s also a part of another really great website called http://ThrivingNow.com, which is all about tapping as a means of releasing old stuff. Finding other modalities might be really useful for you. Understand this; bodies are amazing, cultures, fucked up, especially around bodies.
There are a lot of people out there that have all this, “Oh my vagina or my labia, my vulva doesn’t look like that porn star’s vulva.” For penis owners’ it’s like, “My penis isn’t John Holmes equipped.” We have so many weird mixed messages around the fact that you have a body. Sometimes things can be a little bit out of whack, and that can cause odors or things like that. For the most part, some people smell more pungent than others, just like some people’s sweat or armpits smell different.
Cathy: Different times of your cycle, you can smell different too. It just changes; your body changes.
Reid: If we start with the idea that … take a deep breath … “Bodies are cool, and they do things,” if you can start with “Wow, my body’s just being a body, and I have feelings around my body because people haven’t been cheering me on” … Maybe you’ve never had a lover say, “Oh my God, you smell great,” you’re like, “Really? But it smells like … a vagina” … which smell great if you like that kind of smell.
If you have a lover who doesn’t like that kind of smell, go take a shower with your lover. Two naked people soaping each other up, in most people’s book, is a win. When you wake up in the morning, you don’t have on your list of to-dos, “I will be in a shower naked with somebody else, soaping up our genitals so that we can play together.”
If you have lovers who just have really sensitive noses, or just weird or really sensitive about germs and concerns in their heads … or you’re the person who has that stuff … figure out empowering ways that are fun for you, to dissolve some of your concerns.
Over time, please keep practicing looking at yourself in the mirror, exploring your body and exploring yourself with a mirror, and looking at your genitals especially, and being like, “Wow, that’s what my genitals look like. I’m a human being and everyone’s different, and mine look like this.” If you’re with somebody’s genitals … if you’re lucky enough, somebody’s going to share … be generous. Please look up and be like, “This is amazing. You’re beautiful. Thanks.”
Cathy: It is possible to get through this; I did it. I had a lot of fears and shames, and you can release them and start enjoying your body, and sharing with people in a fun way.
Reid: We teach this stuff and talk about this stuff on YouTube, and we still have hangups. You’re normal; come join the normal squad. Comments below.
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