Your Vagina Is Perfect—Here’s Why

Collage photos via Getty Images

Pussy power

It all started when my friend Sarai sent me an Instagram direct message. It was a photo of a girl, a pretty one, who appeared youthful and happy. In her hand, she held a small bottle filled with pink-colored pills. The caption above her photo read: "When bae tells you that you tasted better than ever, but he has no idea that you're using MySweetV." Saria's DM said: "SMH, another product telling us we're not good enough as we are." I replied, "I think you just gave me my next story idea."

MySweetV, I later learned, was a company that created "all-natural, FDA-approved" supplement pills for women designed to make vaginal secretions taste "sweeter." Their website, a seemingly hastily put together Shopify account, claimed that the product not only will provide a "semi-fruity" taste, but would maximize female performance and sex drive. Hmm.

Let me be clear: My issue isn't with this specific product or brand. (That said, anyone with eyes and Wi-Fi connection can see there's something suspicious about this company; its Instagram account, I found, is deactivated, its website looks like the online version of some creepy dude selling strange things out of his trench coat, and the so-called rave reviews are memes.) Rather, my larger issue is (and will always be) with all companies that create, sell, and promote products that tell women and girls that we are inherently flawed and need products to fix what's wrong with us.

I thought about what companies like MySweetV would look like if they were actually executed professionally; if the testimonials were approved by celebrities, or influencers, or widely-received by women across the globe. And then it dawned on me—they already exist. 

Flower or fruit-scented vaginal soaps, pills, drinks, and countless other items can be found easily online, at your local grocery store, or bodega, and are marketed toward women, only smarter this time, using scientific terms like "pH balancing" or "gynecologist-approved" to make women feel like we're making a health-conscious choice by taking our vaginal hygiene routine a step further.

The truth is, contrary to what the labels say, you only need one thing to properly clean yourself: water. But with products as convincing as these, who would want to feel insecure with a plain, old vagina-scented vagina, when you could feel as beautiful as a flower and taste as delicious as fruit?

While there have been incredible strides in the body positivity movement over the past few years, it doesn't eliminate the work we have left to do to rid of these toxic narratives for good. Unfortunately, that work can't happen overnight, so I decided to debunk some of these vaginal health myths that prey on our insecurities—you know, the same ones that force us to think that we smell or taste bad, the same ones that make us think our vaginas are ugly or odd-looking, and the same ones that allow spaces for ridiculous products like MySweetV to exist. 

I enlisted the help of Dr. Jennifer Aquino, clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at NYU Langone Medical Center, to learn everything you need to know about your vagina but were afraid to ask.

What is vaginal discharge? Is it good or bad? Or both? Is it normal to have some discharge every day?
Vaginal discharge can be absolutely normal. In fact, most women have a small amount of clear white fluid produced by the vagina daily. This normal fluid coats the vaginal tissue with moisture and contributes to overall vaginal health. The frequency, amount, and consistency of this normal discharge can change as a woman goes through her menstrual cycle. In addition to the normal discharge, the vagina also has healthy amounts of bacteria that allow the vagina to fight off infections. Estrogen, a hormone, also plays an important role in vaginal health because it increases glycogen, which is sugar, content in the vagina encouraging lactobacilli bacteria to grow; lactobacilli use sugar as their source for growth. The increased level of lactobacilli leads to production of acid, allowing our vagina to maintain a healthy acidity or pH. For reference, the pH or acidity level of the vagina is normally 3.5 to 4.7. The vagina’s natural acidity keeps bacteria from growing out of control. Changes in hormone levels, douching, sex, infection, or use of irritating products like spermicides can lead to an imbalance in the types of bacteria that live in the vagina. When the balance is disrupted, patients will often develop symptoms of vaginitis including itching, burning, irritation, and abnormal discharge.

What is vaginitis? Should I use over-the-counter products to treat it?
The culprits of vaginitis are the bacteria that “take over” during the time of imbalance and include bacterial vaginosis [22 to 50 percent], yeast [17 to 39 percent], and trichomoniasis [4 to 35 percent]. Evaluation of vaginitis begins with a thorough examination of the vagina. However, symptoms of vaginitis can be very uncomfortable for many ladies, and sometimes patients will self-treat themselves with over-the-counter medications prior to the visit. If this happens, our evaluation and diagnosis may be compromised. I usually encourage patients to come to the office first before seeking any self-treatment. Once the diagnosis is made, medical treatment is given based on what bacteria is overgrowing. Uncomplicated infections usually require one-time therapy, however recurrent infections may sometimes require ongoing treatment. 

How can I maintain pH levels in my vagina? Do soaps, supplements pills, or changes in diet help?
There are also different ways one can try to maintain a healthy vaginal acidity and bacterial balance. This is includes eating yogurt and garlic, maintaining a low-carbohydrate diet, and hormonal manipulation, especially if patients are on birth control pills. 

What is the proper way to clean a vagina or vulva? How does douching come into play?
Things to avoid when trying to maintain a healthy vaginal environment include douching. Douching can disrupt the balance of your vagina and actually put you at risk for inflammation of your cervix. You should try to avoid feminine hygiene sprays or scented deodorant tampons. Using condoms during sex will also prevent semen from changing the vagina’s composition. I tell my patients to avoid soaps and detergents when cleaning their vaginas and just use plain water. I also advise them to always wipe front to back and encourage them to not wear tight underwear and clothes.

How can sex education better inform women of their menstrual cycles?
I am often times surprised that many women do not know much about the menstrual cycle. Most patients know that they should have a menstrual cycle every month. However, there is so much more to it! I usually go over the menstrual cycle with my patients to help them understand how it works, and that way they can differentiate what is normal and what is abnormal. I definitely believe the menstrual cycle should be covered in sex education, especially because teens often go through many bleeding irregularities when they first start to have their periods. 

How can I keep better track of my period? Is something wrong with my menstrual cycle if it is irregular? 
The average age of menstrual cycle onset is 12 years of age. The length of the cycle is considered the first day of a period to the first day of the next period. The normal length of the cycle is usually between 24 days and 38 days. Anything shorter or longer may be abnormal. I usually have my patients chart their cycles, especially if their periods irregular and/or if they are trying to get pregnant. Phone apps are often useful in these cases, including Ovia Fertility and Period Tracker!

Photo by Rachel Dennis


"What do girls even do together?" This question, or some iteration of it, is frequently posed to me once someone finds out I'm bisexual or hears me mention my girlfriend, or if I make any reference to being interested in girls. I would be annoyed by it, but I have empathy because I know how hard this kind of information can be to find. In fact, the details of how two people with vaginas have sex isn't very widespread information. And, I know that I didn't really have all that much information about girl-on-girl sex before, well, actually having it myself. It's precisely this kind of situation that queer sex educator Stevie Boebi is trying to fix.

Boebi has gained a big following for her informational YouTube videos about how to use a strap-on, how to scissor, how to fist someone, how to choose a vibrator for yourself; any question you could have, she will get you an answer. She doesn't shy away from topics that people wouldn't be quick to ask someone about IRL, either, like BDSM. And she covers the kind of things that are definitely not what we're taught in sex education classes—likely not even in the most progressive curriculums. A study from GLSEN notes that only 4 percent of teens reported learning anything positive about queer sex in their sex ed classes, and points out that in some states, it's actually prohibited to mention queerness at all.

Particularly when it comes to sex with two vaginas, the lack of available public education leads to a general lack of understanding of how we have sex, which then leads to a lack of understanding in the queer community, too. "I just think that lesbian sex is so oversexualized, and we're the least educated," said Boebi when I asked her recently why it's so important for her to spread knowledge about queer sex in particular.

Boebi said that she started out on YouTube making videos about technology, but after she came out as a lesbian, her audience flipped from mostly male to mostly female, though she would prefer a less rudimentary gender breakdown ("the algorithm only deals in binaries, sorry," she quipped).

Ultimately, her sexuality led her to change her content entirely, because she wanted to educate people who couldn't find answers to their questions anywhere else—even on the internet.

"I started getting a lot of what I called 'stupid questions' from very confused teenage girls saying, like, 'How do I do it? Can I get AIDs from fingering someone?'" Boebi told me. They were questions that probably should have had easily Google-able answers, but, when Boebi looked for lesbian sex education content to send to fans who were asking her, she came up empty-handed. "I couldn't find anything. I think I found, like, two articles on Autostraddle, and that was it," she said. "And then I was like, Well, shit! If no one else is going to do it, then I guess I will."

Boebi's audience is mainly comprised of 13- to 24-year-olds, so she keeps in mind that she's helping people who may not be experienced, or even out yet. She uses her own experiences to inform her work sometimes, but also researches extensively and talks to people she knows who "have fancy Ph.Ds in sexology and shit," who can answer her questions or point her to resources she should be referencing.

Boebi's charm is in her relatability; even if she's talking about things we've been conditioned to feel shame around, she does it in such an open and honest way that all that shame disappears—as it should. She does this by perfectly meshing professional talk with jokes and sarcasm, and even uses characters based on star signs. She knows the importance of taking on taboo topics, because there are so many people who won't otherwise find answers to their questions. "I don't actually struggle in my everyday life asking people if they've ever been anally fisted before," Boebi joked with me. "I'll take that burden."

And keeping her tone light and humorous is of the utmost importance to her. "When people are laughing, they're comfortable, and I want people to feel comfortable," Boebi said. "And I want people to know that I'm comfortable talking about sex, and they can be, too." It helps also, Boebi told me, that her audience is separated by a screen, and she's not "in a room with a 12-year-old talking about my labia."

Beyond instructional sex videos, Boebi also deals with other rarely discussed facets of sexuality and physicality. Boebi is polyamorous, and talks openly about it, confronting the stereotypes and the misinformation about the identity head-on. And, she was also recently diagnosed with Ehler's Danlos Syndrome after going years without a diagnosis, and she aims to start working more with disabled queer sex educators to make her work more inclusive of people with disabilities. Though she pointed out to me that her work was already encompassing of disabilities, she "hasn't been a part of the disability activist community for very long," and so she has a lot to learn.

And, though Boebi's happy that she has the platform she does, she wants a more inclusive array of sex educators to join the scene. "My voice is my voice, and it's unique to me, but I think there should be way more," she noted. "Especially people [with intersectional identities]. That would make me so happy if we could diversify sex educators."

And, though Boebi says there's no "ideal way" to educate people about sex, she's definitely on a better track than the public education system, and she makes clear that there's nothing shameful about sexuality—in fact, it's just a part of being human, and a really fun one, at that.

Photo by Nicholas Hunt / Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images.

This photo makes me so happy

It can't be understated how big of a phenomenon the Spice Girls were during the late '90s. Their impact was felt from the bustling streets of London to the dry desert land of Scottsdale, Arizona. The latter place is where a young Emily Jean Stone was so immersed in fandom that she asked her second-grade teacher to call her Emma, after Emma "Baby Spice" Bunton. Fast-forward a couple of decades, and Emily is the Academy Award-winning actress Emma Stone. What's even better, she's still a huge Spice Girls fan.

Stone went to the Spice Girls reunion tour at the Wembley Stadium in London and finally met the woman who inspired the name the actress is now known by. Bunton shared a photo of the two of them outside of the venue on her Instagram. She captioned the photo: "When Emma met Emma."And even added the hashtag #2become1. I can't figure out if I want to cry from sentimentality or serious envy.

As for Stone, she once cried when Mel "Scary Spice" B. sent her a video message so I can only imagine what this moment felt like for her. Let this be a reminder that even Oscar winners can be stans.

Screenshot via YouTube

The band shared details about their new St. Vincent-produced album that will drop "you into the world of catastrophe"

Sleater-Kinney just shared more information about their St. Vincent-produced album and dropped a new single.

Per Billboard, Sleater-Kinney revealed that their new album, which they've been teasing since early this year and will be their first since No Cities To Love from 2015, will be called The Center Won't Hold. It's due out on August 16 via Mom + Pop Records. "We're always mixing the personal and the political but on this record, despite obviously thinking so much about politics, we were really thinking about the person—ourselves or versions of ourselves or iterations of depression or loneliness—in the middle of the chaos," Carrie Brownstein said in a statement. Corin Tucker further noted that the new album will "[drop] you into the world of catastrophe that touches on the election."

Janet Weiss noted that the band will "explore a different sound palette" with this album, and pointed to St. Vincent as the reason behind it. She said that St. Vincent "has a lot of experience building her own music with keyboards and synthesizers so she could be our guide to help us make sense of this new landscape and still sound like us."

To satiate us until then, the band released a lyric video for new single, "The Future Is Here," which is very grungy. Bump it, below.

Sleater-Kinney - The Future Is Here (Official Lyric Video)

Asset 7

This is so satisfying!

Even Jon Snow knows just how unsatisfying the final season of Game of Thrones was, and he's ready to apologize. Well, a deepfake of him is at least. A heavily-edited version of Snow's speech from the fourth episode—just before the bodies of those lost in the Battle of Winterfell get burned—now features Snow apologizing for the conclusion of the show and lighting the script on fire.

"It's time for some apologies. I'm sorry we wasted your time," Snow begins. "And I know nothing made sense at the end. When the Starbucks cup is the smallest mistake, you know you fucked up! We take the blame. I'm sorry we wrote this in like six days or something," he adds, before signaling to his peers to light the script with torches and "just forget it forever." "Fuck Season 8," he says before the pages begin to crackle and burn.

If there were more lines left to alter, we would have loved to see Snow also tackle how messy Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister's story line ended up, as well as Bran's kingship, Cersei's boring demise, and the water bottle appearance.

Watch the entire deepfake and try to heal the wounds left by HBO below.


Photo by Darren Craig

It premieres today, exclusively via NYLON

In LP's song "Shaken," the most recent single from her 2018 record Heart To Mouth, she tells the story of seeing her lover out with someone else—ouch. Today, exclusively on NYLON, she releases a cheeky animated music video that pokes fun at the song's heightened drama and perfectly demonstrates all the angst that comes with falling hard for someone.

"She looks at you like I used to/ And I'm just sitting in the corner sh-sh-shaken," LP sings, as the visual—with art by Maayan Priva—depicts the singer hanging out in a bar, watching the girl she likes meet up with another girl. Despite the situation's inherent drama, "Shaken" is less of a ballad and more of an upbeat bop. LP told us she loves the way "this little video captures some of the fun of the song, and its inherent comical anxiety." Sure, heartbreak isn't that funny, but our (sometimes) overly dramatic reaction to it kind of is.

"'Shaken' feels like a bit of a wild card on this record," LP says. "It's the closest I've come to writing a musical, which I hope to do one day." We heartily endorse this idea: Please, LP, give us the queer jukebox musical we crave.

Until that day comes, though, you can watch the music video for "Shaken," below.