“ANXIETY, is working against me. Whoooa, ANXIETY wants to bring me down.”

Firstly, if you sang the title of this post to the tune of John Mayer’s song, “Gravity”, then you get a gold star. If you didn’t (*sigh*), have a quick listen, come back, and read it again to see how clever I have been by replacing the word ‘gravity’ with ‘ANXIETY‘! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iGOWk-r614)

So. Anxiety. I know what you’re thinking, “Oh bloody ‘ell not more #MentalHealth, Soph! We’re already clued up, babes! It’s 2019. Everyone and their Mum’s are writing about the importance of mental health. Go back to writing about periods and stuff.” 

I will. You know I love endless chat about hormones and extra discharge-y days. But today I am going to talk to you about health anxiety. Specifically, my own health anxiety and how I deal with it/don’t deal with it at all. It’s something pretty personal. I find it more personal than talking about my vagina! But I wanted to put it out there because it exists!

“So what you’re a hypochondriac Sophie? GET OVER IT! You go to the doctors all the time and worry that you’re dying. Big deal.” I am a hypochondriac and actually, it is quite a big deal. Feeling like you, or someone you love is going to get ill, fall down and die, or just fall down and die instantly on the street, constantly, is pretty sh*t. 

“Hypochondriasis or hypochondria is a condition in which a person is excessively and unduly worried about having a serious illness. It has been claimed that this debilitating condition results from an inaccurate perception of the condition of body or mind despite the absence of an actual medical diagnosis.”

Seeing hypochondriasis written down as a condition and defining it in a serious, medical way, may seem ridiculous. It almost reads as a joke, I know. And I am usually the butt of a lot of hypochondriac jokes. They are usually genuinely funny and I am usually, genuinely, ridiculous.

“Ooh I just felt a sharp pain in my anus.. it’s cancer.” 

But behind the laughter, eye rolls and “Oh Soph, stop being so silly”, the feelings, paranoia, anxiety, wobbles and panic attacks are not a joke. Being a hypochondriac/having health anixety, has a lot of negative connotations and some people just laugh it off, but it ain’t funny.

The common misconception of someone like me having anxiety over health, is that I am “just an attention seeker”. This label is thrown around a lot to describe people with mental health battles. I can assure you we are not attention seeking. If I wanted your attention, I would dye my hair pink. Oh wait, I’ve done that. Ummmm, okay. I WOULD….. I WOULD GET A GREEN MOHAWK! There! 

I don’t want attention, I want reassurance and then I want an answer. But the tricky thing I’ve found with my anxiety is that I’ll be too scared to ask for the answer. I’ll think something is wrong with me, but don’t want to go to the doctor in case they confirm it. Or I’ll have moments of booking a few doctors appointments consecutively, and then cancelling them after realising I’d be wasting their time.

I also often get intrusive thoughts. For example, if I don’t shut the door in front of me within 5 seconds, someone I love will fall down and die that day. I will shut that door, in 5 seconds, if it is the last thing I do. It sounds completely mad, but I see images of a body on the ground, paramedics, the whole kit and caboodle. So I shut the door. I’ll also continually annoy my parents by texting them every hour to make sure nothing has happened to them. 

I’ve had therapy/mind-coaching to try and relieve myself of some of these thoughts, or at least learn how to rationalise and cope with them, and I am a lot better. I’ve said before that this blog has been a form of therapy to a degree. I am so clued up on vaginas, I rarely experience health anxiety in that area anymore, which is fab! But I’m not completely anxiety free else where. 

A couple of months back I thought I had a lump in my arm pit. Cue panic, worry and a lot of prodding around in the depths of my pits. (CUE PAINFUL, IRRITATED, PISSED OFF, PITS!) After putting it off for a while, I booked a doctor’s appointment.

The day of the appointment arrived. I pooed 3 times. My hands were shaky. I was hot and clammy, and I immediately started thinking of all the different ways this appointment was going to go. “Maybe I’ll just faint on the floor and then get rushed to hospital with an unknown brain disease and my lumpy pit will never be resolved!” you know, the norm.

I packed up my things at work and got ready to leave. My co-worker knew I was off to the doctor, so he called after me, 

“Good luck at the doctors….. hope it isn’t CANCER!” 

Wow. 

Embarrassingly, I actually teared up at this point. 

(It wasn’t cancer. He would have been sorry if it was.) No, the appointment was fine. My GP and I rabbited on about HPV, sex, oral, lumps, armpits, mental health, babies, and then I was out of there and eating curry at my Mum’s house. I zoned out a couple of time to stop an imminent panic attack, but it was all okay. 

However, I don’t think that these things will ever not be scary for me. I am constantly being pushed out of my comfort zone. Some days I have to force myself out of the house, because I’ve been anxious that I might faint on the tube, or in the shops, and that’ll be it. I’ll fall ill. Or just die. I have stayed in the house or cancelled plans to avoid feeling this way and to make sure nothing bad does happen. I feel really embarrassed typing that out, but I gotta’ be honest. When it’s bad, it’s bad. Like any other anxiety, it can be debilitating and it definitely puts a strain on my health, ironically!

It is something that often stops me from livin’ the vida loca. A lot of people say “Oh, you should spend less time worrying that you’re going to get ill and die, and more time living your life! Stop worrying! Death is inevitable! We’re all going to die!” Blah blah blah. If I could switch it off like a light, don’t you think I would have done that by now, hun? 

 

I’ve listed below some of the features of health anxiety, all of which I’ve ticked and completed (gold stars for me today). Some of these probably seem quite normal. Of course it is human to worry about your own health and the health of loved ones. But for some, like me, it can take over life and become obsessive, triggering panic attacks and general feelings of being unhappy. 

  • constantly worry about your health – nearly every day. I also constantly worry about my boyfriends health, my parents, my grandparents, my brothers etc.
  • frequently check your body for signs of illness, such as lumps, tingling or pain – I checked my neck vigorously for lumps every day for about 2 months. 
  • are always asking people for reassurance that you’re not ill – my poor, long, suffering boyfriend puts up with this just before we’re about to go to sleep.
  • worry that your doctor or medical tests may have missed something – yes. 
  • obsessively look at health information on the internet or in the media – all the time. Google. Forums. Charities. Organisations. Twitter. 
  • avoid anything to do with serious illness, such as medical TV programmes – I can watch 24 Hours in A&E now, but for a long time I avoided anything like this. I cry every time I watch it though.
  • act as if you were ill (for example, avoiding physical activities) – I once fainted after doing an ‘Insanity’ workout (haha lol) and didn’t workout for a good 6 months afterwards, because I assumed I had a heart condition. 

 

If I’ve just described you, hi! Me too. Up until last year I thought I was just overly sensitive,weak and pathetic. I’m not, and neither are you. You’re not alone. You’re not a joke. Your feelings are real, they are valid, they are scary but you are in control. 

Anxiety is ugly. It’s a part of me, but it isn’t me. It’s not Sophie being a bit of a tit. It’s anxiety rearing it’s big, ugly head and trying to mess with mine. Some days I don’t beat it. But one day I will.

For tips and advice on how to deal with health anxiety clink on these links. The NHS is slowly making progress with the way it helps patients manage their mental health and the booklet (second link) was my first stepping stone to dealing with my own. 

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/health-anxiety/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hypochondria/Documents/Health%20Anxiety%20A4%20%202010.pdf

 

To end, a lovely lady said this to me recently and I wanted to share it with you,

“Don’t beat yourself up for beating yourself up. It’s an impossible fight! Sometimes fighting it is harder than the actual anxiety. It’s alright to sit in it if you don’t feel like you have the energy to tackle it at the minute.” 

 

Sending pussy positivity, and a whole lot of brain positivity to you. 

S x 

 

Things I Wish I’d Been Told About My Vagina (and other related things).

Life has been a bit more vagina friendly this year. I feel like I finally know what I need to know, but it’s taken me 25 years to get here. So let’s jump straight in there and find out what I wish I’d been taught, shown, whispered to, allowed, told, about this strange body part between my legs.

 

Things I Wish I’d Been Told About My Vagina.

1. UTI stands for Urinary Tract Infection. 

2. A UTI is not an STI.

3. A UTI is that feeling you get when you wee and it buuuurns to high heaven. It doesn’t mean your vagina is facing its own Armageddon.

4. Don’t wash your vagina with Radox bubble bath. She can clean herself. 

5. Sometimes your vagina will smell, and that’s okay. 

6. Don’t invest in buying products to try and make her smell nice. She is always going to smell like a vagina. 

7. So don’t spray deodorant down your pants, please. 

8. Discharge isn’t gross, it’s normal. Most people with a vagina experience discharge daily. 

9. And discharge in your pants is nothing to be embarrassed of. You don’t need to scrunch them up into a tiny ball and hide them at the bottom of the wash basket, so that your Mum doesn’t see. 

10. The contraceptive pill is not the only option to protect yourself.

11. You don’t have to shave off all of your pubic hair if you don’t want to. You don’t have to shave at all.

12. Sexual partners are not going to be perturbed or throw you out of bed because you have pubic hair!

13. Sleeping with multiple people is not a crime. It doesn’t make you a terrible person. So erase the word ‘slut’ from your vocabulary. 

14. Sleeping with two people does not make you a prude. Or frigid.

15. Ugh! Don’t listen to anyone that uses the word ‘frigid’. Everything that comes out of their mouth is most probably rubbish. 

16. Look at your vagina. Check to see how she’s doing. Give her a little feel every now and again. 

17. Masturbate, for the love of!

18. Female masturbation exists and it is just as important and necessary as male masturbation.

19. You won’t always orgasm during penetrative sex, and that’s okay. 

20. “These are the signs and symptoms of all gynaecological cancers (cervical, ovarian, womb. vaginal, vulva).”

21. HPV is the human papillomavirus. The infection can cause cervical cancer, and other cancers too.

22. “The jab you are about to receive is not protecting you against cervical cancer, it is protecting you against HPV.”

23. Men can contract HPV too. 

24. “Now I’m going to tell you ALL about HPV, because it’s important.”

25. Newsflash! YOU HAVE A VULVA. 

26. Yep, the vulva is different to the vagina. The vulva is what you usually refer to as your vagina. They are separate things! (Mind, blown)

27. “Here is what your reproductive organs look like. This is your cervix. This is your womb. These are your ovaries. This is your vaginal canal. That is your labia.” Etc, etc.

28. Never, ever use Google to look up your gynaecological symptoms. 

29. Stop using Google.

30. I SAID STOP! 

31. The overly anxious, intrusive thoughts you experience about the health of your ‘bits’ are not just ‘worries’, it’s anxiety. 

32. YOU HAVE TWO HOLES! 

33. Don’t put petroleum jelly anywhere near your vagina! 

34. Use lube, it’s great. 

35. Don’t moisturise your flaps. 

36. Pull out a front wedgie in public. Who cares!

37. Tampons and pads contain traces of chemicals. They are also bad for the environment. But you know, make up your own mind. It is your period. 

38. Some girls are not as privileged as you, they do not have access to sanitary products. 

39. Period poverty exists, in this country and world wide. 

40. You can donate sanitary products to give to others. 

41. Your vagina is not just for sex and the pleasure of someone else. 

42. Your vagina is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed of. 

43. Your vagina is something to be proud of. 

44. Lacey, cheap knickers will ultimately give you a rash, sorry. Buy the bigger, cotton ones and just be comfortable.

45.  You are sexy. 

46. Your vagina is amazing. 

47. Your vagina can do sooo much cool stuff.

48. Vaginas are better than penises.

Hehe.

 

I now know these things at 25, but I would have liked to know them a little sooner than that. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again; knowledge is power. That means that vagina knowledge is like, mega, life-saving, powerful x1000, with icing and a cherry on top, stuff!

 

Have you got any to add to the list? Tweet me or Instagram me, I want to hear them!

 > @GashGossip <

 

S xx

A Love Letter… to my menopausal Mum.

It seems this month is all about Mum’s and their miracle, wonderful bodies. This is a letter to my own beautiful Mum. Our crazy, flower loving, Rod Stewart obsessed Mumma and the only person in the world who gets emotional over ‘Cheaper by the Dozen 2’.

She also got bitten by a dog once, did you know?

This is a love letter to my menopausal Mum, although she is so, so much more than that. 

Enjoy. 

 

Dear Mumma,

We are entering your birthday month and this year it’s a big one! Apparently you should never disclose a woman’s age, but I know you’re not one for gender traditions. You are proud to be a nearly 60 year old woman, who let’s face it, looks bloody radiant all of the time. Even after falling in a bush or scaling the wall because you’ve locked yourself out of the house… again. You define the phrase ‘age is just a number’ every day. 

But let’s start at the beginning in 1993 when your first, favourite child was born… ME!

I came out with a triangular shaped head, which has thankfully rounded throughout the years and a very grumpy face. Thus the nickname ‘Baby Grumpling’ was born, which you still use to this day when I’m having one of my many meltdowns on how unfair life is. You have always kept me in check, never letting me wallow in self-pity and instead, pick me up off the floor, dust me off, hold my hand and pass me a glass of wine. You are a life guru, the one I come to for all my vagina advice and the first woman I ever loved.

In 1994 out come baby number two; a nearly 10lb bundle of blubber, whose elbow got inadvertently stuck on its way out. You gave me a little brother to love, dress up and read to in the bath. This brother started called me Fufu or Fufs (still does) which is pretty apt seeing as now I write a blog all about FUF!

4 years later, you sat us down at the kitchen table and told us we were going to have a new baby brother or sister in time for the millennium. I thought this was the worst idea ever. Actually, said baby has turned out to be the best, most normal and sweetest, out of us all. We love him. And we all love each other now, even if it took us a while to get here! Three births, three babies, three times you pushed humans out of your vagina. What a wonder woman! Although none of us look like you (we’ve all got Dad’s big honker), we got our love for the arts, our creativity, our craziness, and compassion, all from you

When I thought I had cervical cancer, I came straight to you. I explained every detail to you, every detail of my vagina and my sex life, even though you didn’t know I had a boyfriend at this point. You simply wrapped me up in a big hug and told me I was going to be okay. Then came all of the appointments. You came to every single one, never complained, never said you had somewhere else to be. You were there making sure I’d worn my comfiest pants. We cried, we laughed, we cried and laughed at the same time – a speciality of ours.

You came into my first colposcopy so that I wasn’t alone and looked at my cervix on a screen so that I didn’t have to. You propped me up on cushions after my surgery, made me peanut butter on toast and then showed me your interpretation of a ‘squat’ to make me laugh. I would not have got through that time without you, or Dad (a special shout out to Dad too. Dad, you’re the absolute tits and have to listen to me talk about my fanny all the time, I’m sorry. Thank you for always sending me vagina related news articles and liking every single Gash Gossip related post. I love you.) You’re both simply the best, better than all the rest.

Mumma, I most admire how much you have embraced your ‘wiser years’. You’ve entered them with grace, a couple more swear words and a never ending grin. Even when times are tough and things are falling apart, you keep it all together. You’ve had your own trips down Gynae Lane and kept your sense of humour and optimism throughout. Sleepless nights, sweaty nights, hot flushes, all the emotions, aches, pains, more sleepless nights, one ‘doughnut’ and a couple of quick escapes from the dinner table to cool down in the front garden. You’ve taken it all in your stride, even though I know you’ve felt like tearing your hair out at times.  

You are an amazing woman, mother, female figure, inspiration, wife, daughter, sister, business woman, gardener, baker, cook, hand-holder, gin & tonic maker, listener, emoji-user, agony aunt, advice giver and the only person who actually likes the ‘Cheerleader’ song. (I’m lying, I like it too. I’m just trying to be cool.

“Alexa, play Cheerleader! Oooh I think that I found myself a Cheerleader!”)

Thank you for helping me put my first tampon in, telling me that discharge was normal, talking to me about sex, washing my knickers, force feeding my friends broccoli, buying me pads, driving to school to give me pads, driving me to the hospital, hugging me after break ups, standing on the other side of the toilet door when it hurt to wee, telling me life can be ‘pants’ sometimes, dancing with me in the kitchen and all of the crying and laughing. 

I hope to be even half of the Mum you are one day. When I have children, they will be begging me to go to Granny & Grumps because you are and will be so loved.

I could not ask for better, I’ll love you forever. 

Baby Grumpling x

 

Contraception – 11 Years of Pill Poppin’

Contraception. Where do I even begin with this one? It’s a minefield, init? Lots of different options, for every kind of person, with a whole list of side-effects depending on the form, and the person! Cor. It gets me out of breath just typing it! 

I never remember learning about the different forms of contraception at school, other than that boys should wear condoms. I didn’t even have the pleasure of putting a condom on a banana like the rest of the population, which I really feel like I missed out on… *runs home to the fruit bowl*

When it came to losing my virginity, I had no idea what I was doing other than that I had to get the condom on the penis and fast! 

So let me rephrase all of that, I never learnt about female contraception

However, a few weeks after I started having sex, I turned to my Mum as she was mashing potatoes and whispered, “I need to go on the pill.” The words just fell out of my mouth, even I was surprised. 

“What??” my Mum replied over the sound of the oven. 

“I need to go on the pill!!” I said in a raised, high pitched voice.

Silence. 

Mum paused mashing the potatoes. “Ok. I’ll make you an appointment tomorrow.” 

Mum resumed mashing the potatoes. 

I only knew about ‘the pill’ because a handful of my friends had started having sex or had been prescribed one to help with their periods (not sure whether this actually did help and instead masked underlying issues, but we’ll save that chat for another time!) Anyway, the pill seemed like the obvious and most trendy option and to be honest, I didn’t know about any of the others. 

I don’t think the doctor even gave me a choice of which pill to go on. He told me it was called Microgynon, wrote me up a prescription and waved me off in to my new sexually active life to see how I got on with it. 

Or should I say, how I didn’t get on with it. Mum and Dad took me back to the doctors about 4 months later and said “What have you done to our darling daughter?! She’s a monster!” or words to that effect. Yes, Microgynon sent my hormones cray cray. I was shouting, slamming doors, breathing fire, trampling on skyscrapers and my forehead had turned into a pimple breeding ground that resembled pepperoni pizza. 

Again, at this next appointment no other forms of contraception were mentioned other than the pill. I had to choose between, Yasmine, Cilest, Marvelon, Loestrin, Mercilon, and Femodette. Cilest was the chosen one. Apparently it would help even out my mood swings and keep my teenage acne under control, making my face more of a marghertia than a pepperoni.

I guess ‘the pill’ seems like the easiest option when you’re younger, but it would have been good to know my other options too. Then again, each surgery practice is different. Some of you may have been offered the injection or implant at the tender age of 15, but I was not. 

Fast forward 11 years. Yep, 11 years of popping this tiny purple pill everyday at 7pm. (Those who know me will have heard the ringtone on my phone go off and I’m sure we would have all sung in unison, “PILL TIME!”) This year I have decided to come off it and have some ‘me time’. The last 11 years haven’t been filled with too many hormonal catastrophes, but some things started to not feel right. I knew it was time for my body to take a little holibobs (ew, ‘holibobs’).

The cervical ectropion on the entrance to my cervix was caused by the contraceptive pill and the fluctuations in hormone levels. This erosion was the cause of my consistent bleeding after sex and it had started to take it’s toll on my relationship with sex. “Oooh yeah that was great babe, really hot…. hang on let me just check my vagina, bed sheets, pillow, floor and your dick for blood. Bare with!” You know, it kind of kills the vibe. Now I don’t know if the science is correct, but I’m glad to report that since coming off of the pill 3 months ago, I’ve have had NO bleeding after sex (!!) That can’t be a coincidence, surely? 

I also wanted to conduct a little experiment to see if coming off of the pill would help me take back control of my mental health. Over the past 3 years I have found it difficult to know whether I don’t feel well, or if it is my hormones playing silly buggers. Extra amounts of oestrogen pumping through my blood stream was sure to amount to more tears and (I don’t bounce this word around lightly), depression.

The only way I was going to find out was to stop pill poppin’! 

So, just like that, I turned off the 7pm alarm, bought a multi-pack of condoms (oi oi) and prepared the hot water bottles for bad period pain… and so far, so good! Minus the period pain, which is flippin’ horrible, but my mood has definitely improved. I feel that I can distinguish more clearly when I feel normal or am PMS-ing, and when I don’t feel well and need to look after my brain. 

I’ve also noticed I feel lighter, more patient, my digestion and bowel movements are better, I’m not as bloated and my blood pressure is lower. I am now enjoying tracking my periods and “fertile days” through an app called Clue. I still use protection, I don’t 100% trust an app to act as effective contraception – that’s a bit too Black Mirror-y for me! But it has been great for predicting my period, PMS symptoms and just keeping note of what is going on in my body. And b.t.w, 28th of June I’ll be PMS-ing, the clouds on the app are very grey, so don’t say I didn’t warn you. (If you know, you know.) 

The pressure and responsibility often falls on women to take control of permanent contraception, whether they have a regular partner or not. Which is funny because I was told to practise contraception for a penis (with fruit), but not what my sustainable options were. Therefore I was pretty unprepared for the various effects it would have on my body and mind. Whether it’s gaining weight, going up a cup size, skin break outs, feeling incredibly sad, low libido, continuous bleeding – whatever it is, it ain’t nice. And it is constant. I’ve experienced all of these at some point over the last 11 years, as I’m sure many of you reading this have. 

I am by no means ruling out alternative contraception forever but I want an option that is going to keep my boobs at the size, my skin as flawless as a babies bum and not make me feel so crap.

“In the past 50 years, there have been few changes in male contraception compared with the range of options available to women. Although there’s ongoing research into a male contraceptive pill, there isn’t one available yet.” – NHS 

So, I’ll keep waiting.

 

This post does not mean you should come off of your contraception, especially if it works well for you. I believe contraception is a human right and it is a woman’s right to control their fertility however they wish. 

S x

 

A Love Letter… to the most unlikely to become a Mum, Mum.

Before I start proclaiming my love as the title suggests, a bit of background information for y’all. Last year during some tricky moments, I started writing a series of silly love letters to the important people in my life. I wasn’t writing for any purpose other than to write about things and people that make me happy. It’s a good remedy for feeling sh*tty. This one I’m going to share with you I kept going back to when I felt sad, because it’s all about HOPE. Coincidentally it also addresses the wonders of the vagina (obviously), birth and the endurance and power of the female reproductive system – which in this story is very, very powerful. 

 

This love letter is to my best friend. The most unlikely to become a Mum, Mum.

Enjoy. 

 

 

Dear, you. 

I hope the ‘most likely to become a Mum, Mum’ doesn’t offend you. It’s not meant to sound the way it does. I was trying to think of the best way to describe everything that has to you happened in one sentence… which is apparently impossible. You’ve been through a lot and something like ‘the most tatted up Mum’ just didn’t do you justice. Your exterior doesn’t define you anyway, your huge heart does. Literally screw anyone that never gave you the chance to show it to them. (I would have used the F word there, in honour of you and your potty mouth, but I’m trying to keep it PG hun). Those people didn’t deserve you anyway. 

If someone had asked me 5 years ago, “Who is the most likely to become a Mum out of your friends?” I wouldn’t have said you. Which seems strange now because you are the most caring, sensitive and thoughtful friend I have, but I didn’t think you would be here. I was always prepared to lose you before we reached our twenties and that’s why it was unlikely to be you.

You have seen some of the darkest times possible. I remember stroking your hair as you lay in my lap crying in the 6th form common room. You went away for a bit after that to get better and it was very quiet without you. Then you saw worse times and met the nastiest people. People who treated you dreadfully and took advantage of that really big heart. This is how I think some people may still perceive you though, someone with this trouble resting on their shoulders. Someone they used to know.  Someone that didn’t want to be here. This person was unlikely to have a baby and wasn’t even sure if she would be able to.

Well boy were we all so wrong

You became a woman full of life with buckets of love to give. You found your sunshine and became a Mum to a tiny growing Pip. Something you had only dreamed about.

Years of endometriosis. Cysts. PCOS. Contraceptive pills at the age of 11. Temporary menopause. Injections. Constant heavy bleeding. Crippling pain. Days off school. Zoladex. Laparoscopy after laparoscopy. Packets of Tramadol. And another temporary menopause led to one exhausted female body.

At the age of 16 you turned to me and said, “I’ll never be able to have children.” And at 22 there was a discussion about a hysterectomy. 

You’ve just turned 25 and you are a Mumma to not one, but two babies. After your last surgery in February 2017 you became pregnant in July the same year. You told me the news on your parents’ patio. We were drinking out of coke cans. You were wearing black and I was wearing a hideous shirt. Nothing was different but everything was about to change. A little Bee was cooking!

Your body and vagina are my biggest inspirations. No but seriously, your determination, courage and WOMB are magnificent. 

I wish we could have fast forwarded to today to show you even just a glimpse of how much you will and have accomplished. How much we need you here. Because now, you are the most likely. Of course you are. I see you walking around barefoot in your home and I think, of course she is a Mum. This is the way it was always meant to be. And this year another adorable soul has landed in the bee-hive and I could not be happier. The birth only took you a couple of hours and then you were on the phone to me like, “Hey babe, what you up to? Guess what?!” 

You are going to teach your babies to be so loving and sensitive, as well as strong and passionate. They will take after their Mum and always give the world just the right amount of sass, shouting “HUN” at the top of their little voices. I cannot wait to watch them grow. 

I not only look up to you as a mother, but as a friend. You have never wavered in being by my side. Even during both of your labours, you were there. You always give our friendship consideration and time, whilst loving and caring for a teething baby bouncing on your hip. Thank you for being my best friend and always supporting me in my own endeavours, vaginas and beyond. One day I’ll return the favour. I’ll be sat with your growing hive, sobbing, and I’ll turn to the person sitting next to me in the audience and say through a snotty nose, “That’s my best friend up there.”

Nobody deserves more love, happiness and success than you. I really mean that. You gave the world a second chance and for that you deserve the world.

Your story, (vagina) and babies give me hope every day. I will love you all forever.

Sophiebee x 

 

Let’s Get Embarrassing.

The other day, whilst we were meant to be working and welcoming customers into a building we don’t care too much about, my friend and I were nattering away about the most “embarrassing” vagina tales we have in our teenage fanny files. She said I should write a blog post about some of them.

So here we are! Prepare yourselves/please still be my friend after you’ve read this.

 

 

The Embarrassing Tales of My Vagina 

 

CHAPTER ONE

Imagine this. I’m 15 and about to attend my first concert without any adult supervision. I’m seeing Lady Gaga so I’ve gone for backcombed hair (obviously), a band t-shirt (I don’t even listen to their music), a body-con skirt and 6 inch heels I can’t walk in and they make my legs look like cocktail sticks. Sexy. There is a lot of dark eye make up going on as well as an unwelcome, funny smell coming from down below. Great!  

I put on some thick black tights hoping that would do the trick. Nope. It was actually getting progressively worse. Mortified, I took about 5 trips to the toilet in secrecy and tried everything to get rid of this particular vagina aroma. Toilet paper. Change of pants. Change of tights. Face wipes. Showering from the waist down with my skirt rolled up around my boobs. Perfume. Deodorant (I know, my poor vagina). In the end, the smell was muted only a teeny bit and I didn’t have time to faff about any longer, Gaga waits for no woman. I just had to get on with it. 

I spent the concert dancing with my legs closed tightly shut and couldn’t wait to get home and soak myself in a bath filled with rose petals and lemon peel.  

CHAPTER TWO

Of course I had to throw a couple of embarrassing period stories into the mix. 

My first “Oh sh*t, I’ve leaked” moment happened in the second month of my first ever period. I was a heavy flow-er and not wearing tampons at this point. The incident happened during drama class. I was sat on a linoleum dance floor and as I got up my friend whispered in my ear “Is that you?” I looked down to see a perfectly round splodge of dark, red blood glistening on the floor. 

I tried desperately to wipe it away with the sole of my trainer before anyone noticed. Big mistake. This just helped the blood spread further, making it look like a feminist art piece using only natural paints! My male teacher noticed and set everyone else a task so that they quickly dispersed off into groups… Here comes the worst bit. 

He then mounted a small vehicle, like the ones you see cleaning the roads and pavements, started it up and proceeded to move slowly over my period blood. I emphasise the word slowly. It seemed like forever as he smoothly ran over my womanhood. I don’t think we ever looked at each other the same way after that. 

But nether the less, bang and the dirt was gone. 

CHAPTER THREE

The following year I leaked through a pair of light blue jeggings whilst on a 3 hour coach trip to a botanical garden. The patch of red on my bottom was getting bigger, there wasn’t a service station for another 30 minutes and no toilet on board, so mission: ‘Take a tampon out and put a new one in on a moving coach surrounded by 25 of your class mates’ took place. A kind teacher supported me through this difficult time by holding up her jumper around me… you know, for some privacy.

CHAPTER FOUR

The only time I have ever ‘squirted’ was walking to an A-Level English lesson when A* level discharge came out of me at a rate of knots, so quickly that I thought I had wet myself. Ah, what lovely memories.

CHAPTER FIVE

I once thought I had lost a tampon in there. I was terrified that it had some how shot up into my lungs (I know now that this is humanly impossible) so I pleaded my friend to help me look for it. 

I got down into my birthday suit, squatted over a bathroom mirror and we both had a good inspection of my vaginal canal. 

She was a very good friend. We don’t speak much anymore though…

Anyway, it turned out that I had in fact taken said tampon out earlier on in the day and just forgotten about it. Drama over.

The end.

 

So, why put all of these intimate details out there for the world to see you ask? It’s simple, to make you all feel normal. To let you know that no story is too embarrassing and if it feels embarrassing, it’s probably just because it is extremely normal! 

The point is, we’ve all been there. These stories have probably happened to hundreds of women before me. It feels really freeing to be able to admit to these moments and say yeah they happened. Some of them still happen! But I’m no longer cringing or shying away from them. They make me human. A human with a working vagina who knows what is normal for her. 

To end this post, here are some vag facts that you might already know. But if you don’t, it might help you and your fanny to feel like what you’re experiencing is completely ordinary

  • Your vagina will have a natural smell and no two vaginas smell the same.
  • Your vagina is set at a 130 degree angle, so if you’re struggling to put a tampon in that’s probably why! The vaginal canal is on this angle so you’re literally hitting a wall. Rather than thinking about inserting it upwards, try inserting it towards your back. 
  • Your clitoris gets bigger and harder during arousal. Yes, like a boner. 
  • Using ‘feminine cleaning products’ is probably doing more harm than good to your bits. You all probably already know that your vagina is a self cleaning wonder organ so you don’t want to be interfering with it’s natural PH balance. 
  • The normal PH of the vagina is 4.5, which is similar to the PH of WINE! 
  • When aroused, vaginas can expand to twice their size and then bounce right back. 
  • Not all women are born with hymens. 
  • Roughly 16% of women have never had an orgasm during penetrative sex. 
  • People do get stuff stuck in their vaginas quite often, but don’t worry because you cannot actually lose anything up there!

 

Vaginas don’t have to be serious all the time, sometimes they are pure comedy geniuses. We can laugh about them and that’s what I hope to achieve on here. Join me and love your vagina even through the sticky, messy, weird, smelly times. Ha! 

S xx 

 

 

 

“I’m Never Going To Stop Talking About Fanny.”

“I’m never going to stop talking about fanny.” 

These words seem to tumble out of my mouth pretty much every week, but it’s true. I shall never stop going on and on about vaginas, or penises for that matter. Nowadays when people see me, they don’t ask me how I am or how the acting is going, it’s all about my vagina! (That just shows how much I go on about it) but how nice is that? I think that’s lovely. We should be asking one another more frequently how each other’s genitals are doing. Are they well? Have they had any recent catastrophes? Do they need any help? Then we could banish that stupid abbreviation, ‘TMI’ from the English language.

This little train of thought is part of my ongoing, never ending, very frank, open, honest, sometimes gory, frustrating, glorious and certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, vagina mission.

Don’t stop me now, I’m having such a good time, I’m having a BALL!

 

Right. I know what you’re all thinking; I can’t just stroll back into your lives like that allusive, chiselled lover who never texts you back and you want to forget about. I know, I know, I know I’m sorry. I’m walking back into your life unannounced and still as inconsistent as ever, but I do still like you I promise! I’ve not been neglecting you for somebody else, I’d never do that baby, you gotta believe me… That would only happen if Beyonce called and asked me to be her live in nanny, then you really would never hear from me again. Boy bye. 

Anyway, bloody hell Soph get to the point. Here is a little update on what’s been goin’ on, hence my slight neglect over here on the blog. Mainly hospital appointments and fanny admin but I’ve also been cooking up a few project ideas with some fellow vagina babes and all round creative goddesses and that’s something to celebrate! I also understand that some of you probably don’t care and that’s completely fine, but if you do…  

  • I went back to the gynae clinic and had my follow up colposcopy appointment after more abnormal results cropped up on my smear test. I was, as always, a nervous wreck leading up to my appointment and no amount of mindfulness or yoga was working. It’s my own fault, I’m a self diagnosed over-thinker. But actually, I was pleasantly surprised by my recent trip down gynae lane. After a small cry in the lift up to the ward, I had the world’s loveliest, no sh*t, no nonsense nurse who lifted me up off the floor and told me I had nothing to worry about. And for the first time ever, I believed her. She examined the abnormal cells, told me to pop my knickers back on and to come back in a year as she thinks these pesky cells will have chilled out by then. There was no “oh, this looks a bit worrying”. No biopsies. No “come back in July for another look just to be safe”. So yay, thank you vagina gods! Now if you could just keep looking over me for the next year that would be grand too! 

 

  • I took my first ever pregnancy test. They’re a bit terrifying aren’t they?! I weed into a cardboard pot, filled it up to the very top even after telling the nurse I’d just been for one and wouldn’t be able to get anything out. 

 

  • I wrote a blog post (that I was really proud of) talking about smear test results, abnormalities, the HPV virus etc etc. I had all the facts and figures, it was beautifully colour coded ready to go in my drafts and then I deleted it by accident. Thanks Mum for giving me your technology incompetence gene.

However, in hindsight it was probably way too long and ain’t nobody got time to read all of that, so it will be a dedicated podcast episode instead… 

 

  • THE PODCAST! The podcast which you probably think is never going to happen, but IT IS! IT IS, I can assure you. I’m currently recording what will hopefully be a little podcast for your ears, how exciting! I’m not doing it alone either, I’ve managed to rope in one of my best pals and we’re just finding our groove at the moment e.g spending hours chatting (about things we know nothing about) into a microphone. The podcast itself is not about vaginas so for those of you who have had more than enough fanny talk, you will be safe to listen if you so wish. But there will be special ‘GASH GOSSIP’ EPISODES! Yippee!

Coming soon to (hopefully an accessible, legal) platform (that isn’t going to give your device a million viruses) near you! 

 

  • I have come off the contraceptive pill. Woop woop! For the first time in 10 years, I am minus a couple of extra hormones and I feel foocking fantastic. Again, another reason to get this podcast up and running because there’s so much positive stuff to say on my pill-free experience so far. 

 

  • Whilst not writing here on the blog, I’ve been exhausting my Gmail with email after email in order to connect with some fab vagina crusaders out there. The most exciting person I’ve been harassing is Karen Hobbs, who you might have heard me bang on about before. She is a comedian, writer and ‘Info Babe’ at the Eve Appeal. Most recently she appeared in the C4 documentary, ‘100 Vaginas’ and she’s a full time smasher of all the stigmas surrounding gynaecological cancers. We’ll be doing a recorded episode with Karen about her journey to ultimate ‘vagina babe’ status and how/why she got there. This will involve some of my ramblings on the HPV virus – something that Karen knows a lot about and I think it will be really useful for everyone to soak up her wisdom.

 

  • I brought a coffee table for £15. Nothing to do with vaginas, but what an absolute bargain?! 

 

  • And finally, I’ve been thinking: “What can I be doing to get more education on vagina health out there in to the world, as well as over here on my beloved blog?” There needs to be more information on subjects such as HPV, how HPV effects the cells in the cervix (and other parts of the body too) and why abnormalities aren’t as scary as one may think. There should be more education on cervical screenings, gentling introducing the subject way before the first “invitation” arrives. Let’s just give the people out there with little to no knowledge on their vulva, vagina, cervix, womb, clitoris, flaps, bits, everything between your legs, some more bloody information! 

Because where is the line between too much information and not enough? 

IS THERE ONE?!

 

I don’t know. All I know is that the info I’ve accumulated over the last two years from doctors, nurses, consultants, women’s health charities and women’s health campaigners is essential information that everyone with a vulva deserves to hear, read, know.

I had to chase it to know it but knowing it already would change the way our health system works. It would change the education system. It would mean the difference between preventative and reactive medical care. It would help to prevent catastrophes happening to our genitals. It would mean that women were more confident and less afraid of their intimate health. It would mean we would be taken seriously at our appointments. It would mean less worrying and more control as we would be armed with the knowledge that we need

And knowledge is power. 

That’s my vagina mission.  

Soph xx

If you would like to join said mission please do drop me a message and join in the party, the more the merrier!