Think about the time when you got your first period. Was it scary? Shocking? Confusing? Now think about the first time you experienced a yeast infection. Who did you tell and did you know which products would make it go away?
Sometimes our reproductive system unexpectedly throws things at us without being prepared (like that first period stain on your underwear, or that itchy feeling that starts in the most inconvenient times). Where do you go from there? Or what could you have done differently the first time? We spoke to Lindsay Wynn, co-founder of Momotaro Apotheca, and she shared with us a letter of self-awareness – because vaginal health and your experience with it is something we should all be able to talk openly about in order to develop a healthier relationship with ourselves.
Building a healthier relationship with yourself starts with accepting the complexities and challenges of life; embracing them, absorbing them, and of course, passing along those hard learned lessons.
As young people, we hit puberty and become profoundly aware that our bodies are going through changes. To complicate things further, most of us lack the wherewithal to fully comprehend these changes. My first experience with a tampon was a failed attempt in a porta potty that lead to a bloody one-piece. All at the tender age of thirteen. Although I was bold enough to ask for a tampon from my best friend, I was too shy to admit that I didn’t know how to use it.
When I think about that girl, that younger me, I often think about the people around her – the ones that might have known better. What would a more compassionate sexual and reproductive education have meant for her and why weren’t the adults around her more prepared?
There are many reasons why self and sexual awareness are so elusive. There are the physiological ups and downs of life: the chemical shifts which we can’t really do anything about; beyond that though - and this was especially true for that 13-year-old me - we lack a shared cultural conscious that can absorb, insulate, and protect us as we learn about our physiological changes in a way that ensures our innate grace is always protected.
Having spent the last year building my own company focused on vaginal wellness, I’ve been privileged to broaden my understanding of sexual and reproductive health. I’ve come to realize that the cultural common denominator (connecting the awkward conversations to the lack of knowledge) is a general absence of open and exploratory conversations surrounding sexual and reproductive health.
As Momotaro Apotheca has grown and we interact with more people, we’ve found that the best way to address this is in a supportive way which allows us to explore our ability to educate and talk about our changing bodies. We’re trying to move the discourse to more closely reflect the beautiful reality that we are all different and yet we are all the same. We have unique shapes, sizes, and scents. We mature physically and mentally at different rates. And the only one thing we can be sure of is that change can and will happen.
How we develop a healthy relationship with this inescapable truth is directly connected to our capacity to have healthy relationships with ourselves.
When it comes to vaginal wellness, my advice is to be patient, be observant, be kind with yourself; and always ask questions. Our reproductive health should be as comfortable a topic as anything else. Talk to your friends, and be a friend. Fight the stigma and tell your story. Because you never know, your openness may help someone who hasn’t had the courage to do so, and could be beneficial when it really counts.
Co-Founder, Momotaro Apotheca