It’s time that we really got up close and personal with our body’s most delicate area, AKA our vulva. Some of us may feel shy about exploring our intimate regions, but we’re here to tell you that understanding and celebrating our bodies can be an incredibly empowering experience.
To dive deeper into the intricacies of the vulva-verse, we sat down for a candid chat with mother-daughter duo Tris and Zess to uncover the potential generational gaps in vulva care (how has intimate wellness changed over the years?) and discuss why the answer to loving our vulvas starts with being unafraid to learn more about it.
Growing up, did your mums talk to you about the female intimate region?
Z: “Nope, my mum didn’t speak to me about it. I only saw my mum’s bloody pad! [Laughs] When I got my first period, I kind of knew what to expect and I whispered to my mum, ‘Mum, I got my first period.’ She went ‘Oh’ and asked if I wanted ‘wings’.
T: “I got the pads for her by myself! I don’t recall my mum ever talking to me about the intimate region.
If someone were to mention vulva care when I was much younger, I’d assume it was something that was more openly embraced in Western culture. I’m still shy to even utter the term ‘vulva’ out loud as we’d simply call it ‘down there.’ I’d always known about the role of the vulva but wasn’t aware that there were products that were designed specially to care for it.”
Let's venture more specifically into the Y-zone. What do you know about the vulva and vagina?
Z: “I know that for the vagina, it’s self-cleaning so I try to avoid using harsh soaps. Otherwise, you may mess up the balance between the good and the bad bacteria for your area.”
What about the vulva itself? Do you look at your vulva? Why or why not?
T: “First, it’s located at such an ‘impossible-to-look-at’ place! Unless you use a mirror or something.”
Z: “I tried to look at it recently since I gave birth not too long ago. I wanted to see if my intimate area had any scarring but it looked like the same that I always had. [Laughs] I’m very comfortable with it!”
T: “If I were curious about something, I’d do my own Google research.”
Z: “I’d look at other’s I guess…”
T: *looks at Zess in shock*
Z: “On the internet, I mean! [Laughs]”
What comes to your mind when someone mentions intimate care?
T: “Vaginal wash?”
Z: “Shaving your pubic hair? We don’t have the habit of waxing, though.”
Have you initiated conversations about intimate care?
T & Z: “Nope!”
Z: “For myself, my friends and I would introduce to each other the types of feminine wash products that we like to use, but not to the extent of sharing overly personal experiences like ‘Which lubricant is better?’ [Laughs] My sister and I have talked about how to keep our intimate area clean by shaving, but that’s about it.”
Zess, what were your views towards vulva care before giving birth, and have they now changed after giving birth?
Z: “Before giving birth, I didn’t really do much in terms of vulva care. On days where my vulva area would smell a little funky, I’d use some feminine wash. When I got pregnant, my gynaecologist prescribed a feminine wash for me as well.
Other than that, I’d say that my vulva care routine is largely the same because there’s a lot about vulva care that I’m unaware of. My experience of giving birth has made me cherish my body a lot more though, so I’d be interested to learn if there’s a recommended routine that I can follow to care for it a little better.”
What’s one thing you wished you knew about vulva care but was always too shy to ask?
Z: “I think.. a good starting point would be for experts to tell us about what is there for us to learn!”
T: “Yes, such as the additional care we should be practising for it. Or something as simple as: What’s there to care about the vulva? I feel we can do our own research on what the vulva is, but perhaps we could use more guidance on how to care for it properly. I think many women, including us, are clueless about it.”
In your opinion, could you share some ways where you believe women can get this guidance from?
T: “I think that it’d be helpful for us to talk about vulva care to young girls both in school and at home. They should have access to such information so that they don’t feel self-conscious when learning more about it. As mums, I believe we’d want to be there for our girls during such intimate experiences as well.”
How do you think vulva care changed over the past two decades or so?
T: “I don’t think there’s any difference! It still feels like a very intimate and personal experience.”
Z: “I’ve seen supplements that will help to nourish the vaginal area or promote female intimate health!”
T: *looks shocked* “Okay…? Good to know!”
Zess, you mentioned you were surprised after coming across Two Lips’ line of vulva care products — what are your thoughts after learning about them?
Z: “They definitely piqued my interest! When you mentioned how Two Lips’ products are ‘skincare’ designed especially for our intimate region, it instantly clicked for me.
I’d love to try these out too but since I’m new to vulva care, I had questions about using them, such as ‘Will using these products ‘throw off’ my vaginal health?’ Or is this unrelated as the products are targeted specifically towards the vulva area and not the vagina?
However, after reading up on Two Lips, I found out that the products are safe to use since they’re for external use only, made without petrochemicals and sulphates and gynaecologically tested!”
Why do you think there’s a change (or lack thereof) in terms of vulva care?
T: “For our generation, I feel nothing much has changed. I think vulva care is not widely mentioned in mainstream media or even in our daily conversations. However, I think things are beginning to change and women will become more comfortable with talking about and embracing vulva care.
Zess was able to learn about intimate health because of social media, so these tools are giving young women more access to this information. It makes sense to me that more women are opening up about their sexuality and are celebrating how they feel about themselves.”
Do you think that conversations on the topic of vulva care during this era are still a difficult one to strike even between mother and daughters?
T: “Yes, it can be difficult especially in more conservative households but it’s not impossible.”
Z: “I agree. I can see why many would find it tough to have conversations about it. But it’d still be good if mums could consider taking the first step in initiating the conversation.”
Do you think that you will have more of such conversations in the future?
T: “Yes, I don’t see why not. Also, seeing how Zess is more informed about intimate health than I am, the roles might be reversed — maybe she can teach me something new instead!”
Triss, would you encourage fellow mums who wish to share their knowledge and initiate intimate care conversations with their daughters? Any advice for them?
T: “Yes, I’d encourage mums to take the first step towards talking about vulva care with their daughters, if they haven’t. It’s never too late to start. My first conversation about vulva care with Zess is during this interview! It may feel a little awkward at first, but it’s helpful for us as mums to remind ourselves of our objective: to be there for our girls and be their trusted role models.
I’m sure there’s a lot that I don’t know about vulva care, but at least by talking about it, we can learn more about it together.”
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This story was created in partnership with Strip.
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