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!

 

 

 

Guess Whose Back, Back Again, Cells Are Back, Tell a Friend!

Guess whose back back, back again, ABNORMAL CELLS are back back, tell a friend friend. Yep. That’s right. They’re back.

In the words of Catherine Tate’s Nan, “what a load of old *BEEEEEEEEEEEP!*

 

BUT on the up side, hello! I’m back too ! Slim Shady Sophie is the name, vagina problems seem to be my game. This isn’t quite the entrance I had in mind after taking a 2 month hiatus but life has a funny way of pushing you towards the things you’ve neglected. I’m taking this recent piece of particularly crappy news as a chance to fall back in love with writing about fanny and come back to my beloved Gash Gossip. 

If you follow me on social media, you’ll know that I’ve been hinting at a possible podcast with episodes specifically for Gash Gossip. That will still be happening (along with some more writing bits) so just hold on to your panties, I’m working on it! But before that kicks off, this girl is marching her cervix back to the hospital for further inspection in its own one off episode, “Cells Are Taking Over My Life – Part II.”

I received my smear test results this weekend and the results show more abnormal cells. I also tested positive for the HPV virus. Double whammy. Huzzah, hooray, many congratulations to my vagina for passing the test with flying colours! I managed to tick all of the boxes available: abnormal cells AND HPV. 

 

I feel like before I begin properly, a quick run down on HPV would be good (although I do plan on writing something separate about it too as it’s a bit of a minefield and different for men and women.)

“Human papilloma virus (HPV) is the name for a group of viruses that affect your skin and the moist membranes lining your body. There are more than 100 types of HPV. Around 40 types of HPV infection can affect the genital area. Genital HPV infections are common and highly contagious. They’re spread during sexual intercourse and skin-to-skin contact of the genital areas. The virus can cause abnormal tissue growth and for women, changes to cells within the cervix – this can sometimes lead to cervical cancer. About 80% of sexually active people are infected with HPV at some point in their lives, but most people never know they have the virus.” 

And yes, I was vaccinated when I was 14. And yes, a strain has still found its way into my system. Now back to the blog!

 

Just imagine a crisp, sunny afternoon back in February. Sophie and her cervix turn up for their first smear test together. Yes, this is their first real one. How exciting! Feeling light, refreshed and full of hope they lie down in the familiar sticky leather seat, legs akimbo and await the familiar sensation of a stranger crawling into their nether regions. They’ve been here before, this is not their first rodeo but it feels like a monumental moment given last years dramatic events. *Swish swoosh* and the swab is done, the knickers are back on and the nurse cheerily says as the door opens, “let’s hope everything is better this time around!

Cut to a drizzly, grey Sunday in March. Sophie and her cervix are full of roast potatoes and Pinot Grigiot – they are both feeling very happy and content. 

SMACK. The letter arrives. (‘Smack‘ for dramatic effect, as if it landed on the door mat unexpectedly and full of impact… But everyone knows post doesn’t arrive on Sunday and actually it was just handed over to me, gracefully.) 

Sophie already knew as she was opening it that it was not going to be the news she hoped for. It’s true about that gut instinct thing. 

“The laboratory found some slightly abnormal, ‘low grade’ cells.”

“The laboratory also tested your sample for HPV and found that you have the HPV infection.”

A colposcopy referral has been made for you.

“Sucks to be you, babe.” 

 

Since opening the letter I have cried on and off hourly. Twice on the train, once on the tube and a lot on my sofa whilst eating grapes sandwiched between chocolate buttons because I’m trying to maintain a healthy balanced diet, obviously. 

What does this all mean you ask? Truth is, I have absolutely no idea. But I can tell you it feels like I’m back in 2018 when my life first became about vaginas, cells, blood, doctors, clinics and massive sanitary pads. I don’t want to be back there, it wasn’t fun. I want to be here in 2019 with my chocolate grape sarnies.

Safe to say I’m feeling pretty pants. More than pants. 

Right now I’m awaiting an appointment at the colposcopy clinic. I’m guessing this is where I’ll get more of an idea of what my next step is and just how badly HPV is effecting my cervix. I’m hoping for a bit of reassurance too, please. 

(Now I’ve cried a total of 12 times. Dang it.)

I’ll also be able to ask all of my questions! Is this HPV going to kill me eventually? Can I still eat cheese? Why hasn’t my body fought off the virus already? Will I have it forever? How long have I had it for? Is this all because I had a bout of smoking in my teens? I thought it was cool!! Are these abnormal cells new or old? Little bits left over from last time? Are they changing quickly? Are they changing right now?! Are they everywhere?!

Will you have to cut out another chunk of my cervix?

Will I still be able to have children?

(13 times.)

I’m scared. And I’m embarrassed. HPV feels shameful. Why is that? It makes me feel like an unhealthy, greasy…. ball of bad. Apparently your immune system is the front-line soldier that should be fighting the virus off, but mine hasn’t so far. I’ll have to start drinking green tea, which I hate, make broccoli smoothies for breakfast and do yoga 6 times a day.

But I don’t think HPV is as simple as just being able to “fight it off”. It’s not a cold, it’s a bit nastier than that. Creeping about in your body mostly undetected and causing havoc.   

I’ve probably just got a bad case of the ‘unluckies’ (yes that’s a thing, I’m making it a thing.) 

(Oh man, 15 times.)

Right snap out of it, dry your eyes and quickly come up with some positives Sophie. When life gives you lemons, make a gin and tonic for goodness sake, girl! 

Positives:

1. Last year they found moderate abnormal cells in my cervix, which are effectively in the middle of the ‘good to bad scale’. Now I have mild abnormal cells, which are at the bottom of the scale. So at least it’s not as bad as last time. 

2. I am only aware of these changes because I went for my routine smear test. It’s a big reminder that the smear is one of the most important tests a woman will take in her life. It could save a life and that isn’t me being over dramatic for once. 

3. The wonderful BAE brought me chocolate buttons… and then ginger, mangoes and spinach to make morning smoothies (no broccoli in sight) to try and boost my immune system by 100! 

4. I am going to be an expert in abnormal cells and HPV when this is all over and it will be over. You hear me HPV? I’m coming for you, don’t get too comfy down there! 

 

Okay, that feels a bit better. I needed to write all of that. Clear my head a bit. 

This will not make me miserable like it did before. 2019 wasn’t going too badly and I refuse to let a repeat of 2018 happen, I REFUSE! 

 

I really hope all of you that received your test results failed miserably. In other words I hope you got 0 marks! If you haven’t had one yet, get one. I’m serious. And if you’re a person that doesn’t need a smear test, I hope you’re holding someone’s hand that might need it after having one. 

Throwing a lot of pussy positivity at you. I’m sprinkling it all over myself today too, it’s sparkly. 

Be back soon, 

Soph and her formidable cervix. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018 – Broken Genitalia & Shattered Dreams

Disclaimer: This post was written within the throws of Christmas. The chocolate was a flowing, the wine was a pouring and the heightened anticipation for the year ahead was a rising. Nether the less, it’s 97.9% all still relevant…

 

2018 – Broken Genitalia & Shattered Dreams. I know, not the most positive title ever. Very dramatic. But as I lay in bed last night, after stuffing myself stupid with chocolate orange and mystery ‘chocolate balls’ from the village bakery, I thought that ‘broken genitals’ and ‘shattered dreams’ summed up my year quite nicely. It truly was the first thing that came into my head. But most importantly it can only mean onward and upwards for 2019, right? (Please tell me that’s right.)  

I thought I would do a look back on 2018 as it was quite the bumpy ride. I’m kind of glad it is over. At the end of each year the negatives of 12 months stick fastest in my mind (hence the over egged title) and the small achievements just float away, never to be remembered again. But I’m hoping that writing some of them down will help me to hold on to them as 2019 begins. After all, that is what turned many negatives into true positives in 2018, writing them all down and starting a whole blog dedicated to them! Plus my Mum always says, “if in doubt, write it down.” So although I actually feel like screaming 2018 YOU LITTLE *$%”/!’#… I’ll refrain and instead open my palms heavenward and say to myself in a gentle, meditative tone, “but what have you learned, Sophie?”

 

Gash Stuff 

RECAP! This time last year I was experiencing bleeding after sex. Every time. Bleeding after sex and pain during could be a sign of cervical cancer, especially if it happens frequently. I was given a number of internal examinations and my GP found an ectropion on the entrance to my cervix which was causing the bleeding. 6 months later, I was still bleeding and it was giving me 0 confidence and a bad sex life. I requested a smear test, but was denied one because of my age so my doctor referred me for a colposcopy. This is when the consultant found a collection of CIN 2, mild abnormal cells in my cervix that were later removed by loop excision treatment. The cells were believed to have changed due to the HPV virus which I had been vaccinated against when I was 17. I was then bleeding for a total of 6 weeks post treatment and felt like poop. It took me a long time to recover mentally. Sex became scary. I lost a lot of confidence and I spent the rest of the year comfort eating. 

CUT TO NOW. I haven’t bled after sex IN AGES. Go vagina! And lube has been a life saver. I’m going for my first actual smear test this month and that will tell me whether I have anymore abnormal cells/if I still have the HPV virus in my system. Let’s hope not. I still worry. I still check my pants for unexpected blood and examine the tissue carefully after going for a wee. But my vagina and I are friends I think, we’ve come to an understanding. As long as I know how to help her, she is happy. I’ve also understood the hype behind smear tests. They are life savers. If you haven’t already, book your smear test this month and let’s all go together. One big smear party!

 

Other Stuff

My epiphany of 2018 is that our mental and physical health is much more intertwined than we think. Whilst my body was experiencing the ups and downs of a semi-functioning cervix, my mind was having a mini meltdown. Even after everything was fixed and the problem solved, my head was all over the shop. I felt sad, scared, overwhelmed – all the emotions I didn’t want to feel after being put back together! It’s taken me a while to get through that. I’m now not frantically checking to see if there’s blood on the bed sheets using my phone torch and I’m certainly not crying quietly on the toilet at midnight worrying my tits off.

However, after spending so much time concentrating on the needs of my lady bits and the effect it was having on my peace of mind, I’m now faced with the real question of: what the hell am I actually doing? What will 2019 bring? As some of you may or may not know I’m an actor, currently not in work and at one point I was working 3 different other jobs, none of them to do with the arts or theatre making. In fact, I had only 6 days paid acting work in 2018. The rest of the time I was having existential crises about whether I am good enough to do it. That is still a battle I have with myself daily but I am ready for a fresh start. I’ve got to keep going! Just all the vag related stuff didn’t help. At all.

 

Achievements

Now, the best bit. I urge you all to do the same before the New Year properly kicks in. The first week doesn’t really count after all, does it? As well as writing down all of your hopes and dreams for the year ahead, write down all those achievements you made possible last year.

  • I started a blog dedicated to vaginas with the aim to make talking about fannies normal. I shared my own story in the hope that other women would go to the doctors for answers if they thought something was wrong. I wanted and will continue to try and open up all conversations related to women’s health in 2019.
  • I quit one of my ‘muggle’ jobs and found a different one that makes me happier and gives me my weekends back. 
  • I fell in love and made the move out of London. Now I live in a teeny cottage with the sweetest man on the planet and we have a terrarium. 
  • I spent 6 months of the year concentrating on my vagina, followed my gut instincts on getting the right diagnosis and recovered from an invasive procedure that had left me feeling pretty yucky. 
  • My blog posts encouraged friends to book the smear tests and appointments they had been putting off. 
  • I became a surrogate auntie to baby Z and the proudest, most emotional best friend EVER. 

 

My Goals/Hopes/Dreams/Aspirations/Desperation’s

Don’t give up. Get some acting work. Keep my cervix and vagina healthy. Watch Handmaid’s Tale Season 2 somewhere!!! Pass my driving test. Keep Gash Gossip going, make it bigger and better than before. Write more. Worry less. Go on bike rides with BAE. Eat more spinach.

 

Thank you 2018, for teaching me how to be open, cry until I laugh, the art of wearing sanitary pads, conquer my fears, attend hospital appointments without having panic attacks and take control. Even when I wanted to give up, you kept kicking me up the proverbial bum to stick with it. I would have said a kick up the proverbial vagina to be topical, but that would just hurt. A lot. 

So many of my favourite women in this world have had their fair share of challenges this past year, whether it be in the nether regions or not. The power of us all sticking together like those two emoji’s that wear kitten heels and devil horns is paramount. Never under-estimate the power of hugs and WhatsApp messages to each other. 

Thank you for all of your kind words throughout 2018, it has meant the world and more. If I could buy you all ‘chocolate balls’ from the bakery I would, but BAE and I would end up eating them all before I gave them to you. 

Stick around for exciting things to come this year, including more writing, more vaginas, stuff you can get involved with and maybe even a couple of different exciting mediums to spread the Gossip. And as always, if you have anything you want to talk about here on Gash Gossip you know where to find me.

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas & here’s to A Happy Healthy Vagina.

Sophie xxx

 

 

 

 

 

A Fanny Emporium – Florence Schecter & Her Vagina Museum

A couple of months ago I was pointed in the direction of Florence Schechter. ‘Schechter’ said with as much gusto as you can muster! Because this woman is full of said gusto. Amongst all of her many other attributes, she is the director of the world’s first Vagina Museum. Yep. An actual Vagina Museum. Isn’t that the best thing you’ve ever f****** heard?

What a completely magical, pussy positive idea. A museum for vaginas – something that hadn’t occurred to me didn’t exist. There is a Penis Museum in Iceland. There is a Sex Museum in Amsterdam (full of giant penises). There are penis shaped bottle openers in Tenerife. But where is our giant hall with high ceilings filled with vagina anatomy sculptures? Oh yeah, it doesn’t exist. Even with all the best efforts of some exceptional women out there, vaginas and everything that comes with them are still taboo! But Florence and her team are another organisation striving to make this particular societal change.

First let me introduce you to the woman herself. Florence is a comedian, presenter, video producer and trainer. She has a BSc in Biochemistry, her own solo comedy show called “Queer by Nature” and an a-symmetrical labia. She makes science weird and hilarious – because it is. Florence also fills all of the gaps in one’s knowledge about fannies/the patriarchy/making a change/how to juggle jobs/remain as cool as a cucumber etc etc. We like her a lot. 

Now she is embarking on creating the world’s first brick and mortar Vagina Museum. A museum that will provide knowledge and understanding of the female anatomy, as well as the vaginas place in our culture and history through various different mediums. All of this (and more) under one roof, inclusive for EVERYONE. It is going to be epic. So I went along to Vagina Museum HQ to find out more. 

Since announcing the project, Florence has been inundated with emails from women telling her that they had wanted to do the same thing, but other commitments had always got in the way. Of course other women have wanted to make a Fanny Emporium. It feels like the world needs this. We need it. I need it. I needed it a year ago! There are hundreds of pictures of fannies plastered all over the internet, yet little conversations about them. And so yes, we definitely need a place, a community, a base for the vaginas of the world to come together. 

So how is this exciting space shaping up so far? Well, Florence and the team have already held temporary exhibitions, e.g a pop up art exhibition, appropriately named “Exhibitionist” and now they are moving on to the next part of the project, honing down on an interim space. This would involve taking over a space for a couple of years and turning it into a museum as a proof of concept”Florence explained. “We can show the world that this is what we can do and this is what we can achieve. After the temporary space where will be able to build up support, we can then get a more permanent space for 10 years or a permanent permanent space.” A forever space. Although, Florence is in no hurry, building a permanent museum takes 10 years. Right now it is about showing the world why we need it. 

Florence recently toured a 60 minute talk called “Why The World Needs a Vagina Museum” and so I had to ask her WHY? “Why? Because we don’t have one and it’s not very fair. Vaginas are such an important part of our history and heritage. They massively effect our lives. They are life-centric things that we need to understand because there is so much missed information out there.” A lot of missed information and a lot of shame. To fight the shame, Florence believes there needs to be a big societal change. “This kind of change will start at a grass roots level but must translate into something bigger. That’s what this is. Museums are used by society to flag post what they think is important. Why is there not a single society that says vaginas are important to us?” 

Before meeting with Florence, I knew there was a lot of change that needed to happen with regards to the way we talk about our intimate health and experiences, but whilst chatting it became apparent that it is bigger than that. The environment around us tell us how we are allowed to engage with our bodies. Society and religion play a massive part in the way some women think and talk about their vaginas. It is crazy to think that those sources control our most intimate organs, but as Florence said “that is the point.” 

“I grew up in a religiously conservative environment. I went to a religious school so I had a lot of ‘you can’t talk about this sort of thing’. For example, when I was in Jewish studies class we were being taught by a Rabbi that masturbation was a sin because it was a ‘waste of seed’, meaning the semen could have been life. I put my hand up and said ‘what about female masturbation? That doesn’t waste seeds.’ He replied that it was an inappropriate sexual feeling and that masturbation was bad full stop.

Religion will always control who you have sex with and who you have children with and these are massively vagina related. They have certain rules that control our bodies. For example, in Judaism there’s this thing called the Mikvah. If you are having your period you are untouchable [you can’t engage with sexual activities.] When your period is finished you go to get it certified by your Rabbi and then you go to the Mikvah, which is essentially a baptism pool, where you can spiritually cleanse yourself. When this is done, you can have sex again.”

It dawned on me during this chat that the reasons for our vagina taboos run deeper than just not being able to talk about them through embarrassment. There are rules and regulations too. And anyway, how can we base knowledge and open up conversations on something we know very little about. Especially when that ‘something’ happens to be part of our anatomy and the reason we are all here on this planet.

“I would like to learn more of the history of vaginas. It has been brushed under the carpet and often deliberately erased because historians don’t know how to deal with it. It can be hard to find actual vagina history.”

If you happen to know anything about vagina history, let us know! Because there has never been a lesson on it. Sure it’s great to know about all the male leaders of the world in history GCSE but I can bet your bottom dollar I would have got an A* if I was learning about the so far surprisingly, very brief history on our vaginas.

Lastly, I asked Florence to tell me 3 things she loved about her own vagina and 3 things she didn’t love so much. Mainly because I like to be nosey but also it seemed only fair as we’d spent most of the time discussing all other vaginas but her own.  

LOVING: 

  1. It is unique because I have an a-symmetrical labia.
  2. I like the fact it can do great things e.g give me pleasure and one day have babies.
  3. It doesn’t mind when I tell stories about it. I tell stories about it all the time. I’m very open about it.

NOT SO MUCH LOVING:

  1. I can’t orgasm when I need to pee and I can’t just stop in the middle of it!
  2. It took me a long time to enjoy penetrative sex because I was so nervous about it. My vagina would close up and it would really hurt. Once I had waited to find a partner that I really liked, that’s when I started to enjoy it. I hate the fact that it happened and I wish I had known that when I started.
  3. And lastly, if my pubic hair gets too long it gets matted and tangled. I’m terrified when I’m having sex that my partner will go down there and his fingers will get stuck. I make sure I trim but I also sneakily comb it out before sex. 

You heard it here first ladies. A quick and easy fix to silky smooth pubes is the old fashioned finger comb.


 

I can safely say I learnt more about fannies in this 45 minute chat than I have done from any educator, book or lesson EVER and I think that’s sh*t. There is vital information out there that every one with or without a vagina should know. This will make it possible for us all to understand, experience and communicate with each other on them. We would also be able to tackle problems head on whether it be health related or societal, rather than ignoring them. 

I urge you all to go and pledge your support over on the Vagina Museum website. This is proof to potential partners that the museum isn’t working in isolation and that we all agree “YES, WE ABSOLUTELY NEED THIS!” There will also be lots of information on their site in the new year about other ways you can get involved, for example attending an embroidery workshop where you learn to embroider A VAGINA. I’m so in. 

Also make sure to check out Florence and all the exciting stuff she is up to. Her solo comedy show, “Queer by Nature” is going to the Vaults Festival in February and it sounds like an absolute blast as well as educational. What more could you want? 

Spread the Vagina Museum word and obvs tell your mates about the Gash Goss, 

Your forever pussy pal, 

Soph x

For ALL the information: 
http://www.vaginamuseum.co.uk
https://www.floschechter.com/
Twitter: 
@vagina_museum 
@floschechter

 

Hormones 1, Me 0.

This is something I wrote a while back during the ‘month from the fire-y flames of hell‘.  I was reminded it was still in my drafts after a recent run in with hormones and an unexpected period. Everything pretty much still applies. Hormones happen. Every day. And every month, they get multiplied by 1000. Enjoy.
– Sophie x

“A hormonal mess? Me? No. I’m not. I’m not. Nope. Never! How dare you say something so rude and quite frankly insensitive. Am I coming on my period? Oh boy, you just keep digging, don’t you? Am I coming on my period? Well let’s see, judging from the huge white head on my chin, that also appears to be sprouting a thin black hair, the uncontrollable tears, bloating, constipation and need for affection I would say yes. YES, FOR A MATTER OF FACT. YES. I. AM. 

(Beat)

It’s just because I’m a woman isn’t it? My low mood means I must be menstruating mustn’t it? Because all women who aren’t smiling must be on the rag! Is that it? I’m a feminist you know. A REALLY STRONG, FEM…*starts crying* I’m not finished with you yet, I just need to go and cry for a little bit because it’s true, I am a hormonal mess. 

“There is not enough willpower to push through a hormone imbalance, your hormones will always win.” – Said someone once. 

Hello my name is Sophie and I have been bleeding for 4 weeks, so far. The other day I cried because my boyfriend had his arm around another woman in a photo, my pad was stuck to my leg instead of my pants and I am just one big walking hormonal catastrophe. There I’ve said it. And what I’ve learnt recently is that it is completely okay to admit that. You know what, no I’m not great today, I’m feeling particularly hormonal, teary and I just need some space and Friends on Netflix. Sure, you might be able to tell I am coming on my period or that it is currently in motion, but that doesn’t actually bother me because I can still do everything you can, whilst bleeding. 

Saying that, this has to be the worst period I have had since I was 16. Having not taken my normal break from the pill after my surgery, I knew it was going to be a messy one. On doctor’s advice I continued taking the pill for an extra month. I know this is completely normal for some women as this is one of the positives of the contraceptive, you don’t have to have a period every month. However, I have always chosen to. I will admit that this is mainly to make sure it works and I’m not growing a baby but also because to me, my period is natural and without one, my body goes into meltdown. So having bled for 3 weeks post surgery, I’ve just entered my 4th week of bleeding, this time it’s my period and boy oh boy… I’ve been bad.
Hormones

I’m an emotional person anyway, pretty sensitive, love to let it all out but good god, it’s like I have been watching the dog die in Marley & Me on repeat. If I don’t let the tears out at least once a day, my ducts would probably explode and I would die. So I don’t have much of a choice. I wake up, sit up, cry. Shower. Cry. Get to work. Cry. Customer says something flippant and irritating. Cry. Look at the blood in my pants. Cry. Tube. Cry. Bus. Cry. Bed. Cry. You get the picture. I know, it sounds really sad. Most of the time I don’t even know what I am crying about. I just know I am sad. Then I cry because I think, oh I’m a sad person, I don’t want to be a sad person, this is so shit. Cry. Yay for the cry cycle! 

Another thing that has made this experience all the more joyful has been the sanitary pads. I am usually a tampon user. I’m sorry, I should be using moon-cups I know. But the thought of being in a public place and spilling it all over me in an attempt to get it out terrifies me. I’ll try it at some point, but I can’t promise a miraculous conversion. I’m definitely not convinced on pads either. I’ve been using them since my surgery (as I haven’t been able to use tampons) and I have the leakage fear every hour. Of course it’s whatever works for you and whatever is going to make you feel the most comfortable during your 5-7 day trip to hell. Tampons do it for me. They keep it all up there out of sight! Out of sight out of mind. Plus my pants are not suitable for pads. I had to take a trip to Primark, buy the largest pants that give camel toe galore and took away any dignity I had left. (Sophie talking in the present day, “I have since thrown these pants in the bin. Ugly cretin pants!”)

I just cannot put into words, without a lot of bad language, how horrible this menstruation has been. The emotional instability, the incomprehensible phone calls to BAE, the bloody knickers, the pains deep in my womb and the constant churning of vital organs. It is a miracle I  have lived to tell the tale. Okay, that’s a bit dramatic, but it has been les miserables. How many of you experience a period like this, but every bleedin’ month?

However, on a positive note it has made me think about how great us vagina wearers are. We go to work, teach, save people’s lives, bring new life into the world, compete, debate, run for trains, nod when a customer is wrong whilst bleeding, cramping and doubling over in pain. When really we wish we were at home in a hot bath or our beds, preparing to do it all again the next day. We’re incredible. And so, whilst trying to maintain our positive attitudes and complete daily duties, we do sometimes feel the need to get emotional, angry, frustrated and sometimes a little impatient to be honest… given the circumstances, I think that’s fine. Completely fine. 

So let the hormones win! They make us human. They give us drive and determination as well as running mascara and cravings for Dominoes cookies. They make us different. Powerful. I love my hormones. I’d be nothing without them. I love my period and I bloody love being a woman.

Well.. I’ll let you know if I still feel the same in 2 weeks time when the red sea parts once more.

– Written some time in August.


Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this bonus post. It’s nearing the end of 2018, the year I started Gash Gossip and started sorting out my vagina woes. I want to continue sharing the fanny love well in to the next year and the year after that. Sharing more stories and helping more ladies book that appointment they’ve been meaning to with the hashtag, #GashTag.
Share something funny, serious, a question, whatever you want on Twitter or Instagram and use the #GashTag. Support each other and give each other the same love you’ve given me. Because without all of your support, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this. When someone is going through something scary, and they’re in the waiting room at their hospital appointment, there is nothing better than receiving a message or a heart emoji from a friend. Or even a stranger. Coming from a gal who knows.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cat Vaginas, Natural Yogurt and Blood In Your Knickers! – Meet the ‘Bitch Hoes’ (Part 1)

You’re probably wondering what the F I’m on about from reading the title of this post. WELL. Let me explain. I have a couple of blog posts coming up, a series if you’re fancy, written and worded by some of my oldest, dearest, maddest mates. This particular group of girls I will introduce you to I have known collectively since the age of 11. But some of them are my home girls from the tender age of 5. So you know, we are tight. We joined forces in Year 7 and have been getting drunk in fields ever since. They are wonderful. The girl group to end all girl groups. These are their stories. Their vaginas. Let me introduce you to the Bitch Hoes

Bitch Hoes on Wikipedia: 

Bitch Hoes, a group on WhatsApp made up of 7 really brilliant women. The group was founded on Facebook and WhatsApp between 2015-2017, but previously members of the group have been chatting daily since 1998. The name originates from…. well there is no origin. It is what it says on the tin. The Bitch Hoes. Take that as you will. The group discussions usually focus on, believe it or not, vaginas, penises, goats and a shit ton of photos and memes. Also included in the highly important group chat are conversations on physical and mental health, women, love, heaps of advice, undying support and general adoration for one another. A popular theme currently is the ‘Friday Positivity Message’ where each member of the group shares a positive of their week. All of the members originate from a small town in Hertfordshire and are currently spreading their wings and putting out fires in all areas of life. Basically being complete bosses.

Since beginning my Gash Gossip journey, the Bitch Hoes have been a constant for support, words of encouragement and of course fanny tales. It felt only right to include them all in a couple of special posts dedicated to them and their vaginas. Funnily enough every one of us 7 members of the group have a vagina, and so every one of us should get the opportunity to chat about it, right? Right.

This post, as you can see by the title, is Part 1 where you will be introduced to the first two members of this very exclusive group. Be prepared to think about cat vaginas and natural yogurt up your flange! 

First up it’s Charlotte. The Jill to my Marion. A 24 year old digital marketing strategist living her best life in the Big Apple! With a “wonky, wobbly, perfectly imperfect little wonder” of a vagina. 

Do you have any vagina related conditions? If yes, how does this affect your day
to day life?
I used to be really susceptible to thrush after too much sex which got REALLY
frustrating. I remember once at uni a friend caught me buying Canesten in Boots and I
lied and pretended it was for a skin condition which is madness looking back on it now.
Own it! Oh and I also once tried sticking a tampon slathered in natural yogurt inside me
because I read somewhere that it was a natural remedy. Don’t try it: it’s messy, smelly
and doesn’t work.

How often do you seek medical advice regarding your lady parts?
Rarely. The first time I got thrush I spent two whole days working myself up to go to the
docs about it, and then when I finally did I spent the whole time sweating profusely. I
also refused to see a male doctor and probably would still only see a female about my
fanny to this day.

How often do you speak to friends, family, your partner about your vagina?
Omg all the time. I swear 90% of the topic of conversation with Bitch Hoes is fanny
focused. I’m very open with my boyfriend as well – if I’m sore I’ll get him to stick his head between my legs in a totally un-sexy way and check it out (poor fella). Growing up with my mum and sister meant vaginas were discussed pretty frankly at home as well.

What is one thing you would like to see change about the way women talk about
their vaginas?
I would love us to lose the stigma and shame attached to our vaginas. So many women
(myself included) find it uncomfortable to publicly discuss them, but they are SO
powerful and important. They are self-cleansing, orgasm-inducing, keys to new life! We
should be screaming from the rooftops about how wonderful they are!

What do you dislike about your vagina?
I don’t like how paranoid it makes me. Does it smell funny? Does it look like other vaginas? Have I shaved? Will my new underwear irritate it? Have I bled through my knickers? WHO CARES?!

What do you love about your vagina?
I love that she is my gateway to intimacy with my boyfriend (and myself!). I love that she
is smart enough to send me signals when things aren’t quite right down there, and that
one day (hopefully) she is literally going to be able to pass new life into the world.

A big warm Gash Gossip welcome to Lauren too! Our 25 year old veterinary nurse, diagnosing all our pets problems on the reg. via WhatsApp! 

Lauren, hi! 

Hi! I’m a 25-year-old single pringle still living with my rents and spend most of my life
working – just like most 20-somethings I know. My vagina knowledge is minimal – I know
more (too much) about dog and cat vaginas than I do my own. (n.b I’m a veterinary
nurse and a general understanding of animal vaginas and penises is occasionally
required for certain parts of my job. Definitely not some weirdo who looks up animal
genitalia for fun…)

What does your vagina get up to at the moment?
It leads a pretty boring life, but it’s functional, does what it’s told and rarely has any
issues. I don’t have any vagina related conditions at present – apart from loneliness and sexual neglect. 

Have you had any recent health related issues concerning your lady parts? 
No, thankfully. But I really really need to book my smear test!

How often do you speak to friends, family, your partner about your vagina?
It’s a pretty taboo subject in my household – mainly because I live with my rents and it
very rarely comes up in dinner conversation, but it’s up and coming with my Bitch Hoes.

What do you dislike about your vagina?
It’s a pretty ugly organ and shaving/waxing rash is literally the most annoying thing in the world!

What would you like to see more of on the Gash Gossip blog?
Maybe stuff regarding contraception? I feel like there are so many choices and lots of nasty side effects that need to be discussed. 

Thank you Charlotte and Lauren for sharing a little bit about your minge and for being open, honest and unfiltered. That’s what the gossip is all about! 

What I love the most about these girls is that there was a time when NONE of us would discuss these sorts of intimate topics with each other. Now, it is all we talk about. And so it should be. These women are just as much a part of my mission to make talking about our fannies normal. Especially when 50% of the time, nothing about a fanny is normal. They do stuff on their own accord and having friends at the other end of WhatsApp is literally a god send on the days when the minge is misbehaving.

Part 2 coming soon! 

 

Thank you so much for coming back. Working on this wee blog brings me SO much joy I cannot tell you. It brings a bit of light to my week when there is too much bloody dark. I hope it is helping some of you with your fanny troubles or it is making you book your smear test (Lauren! I’m looking at you!) Reading about other vaginas, in a non-scary/you’re going to die way, really helped me this year. And even if you’re not experiencing anything at the moment, I hope you’re laughing and nodding along with the rest of us. 

Throwing loads of girl power at you today. Go and give your best mates a big squeeze!

Soph x

07/11/2018