The Google Searches Every Woman Does (But Shouldn't Have To)
It shouldn't be this hard to learn about our bodies, am I right?
What do you get when you combine anything-but-comprehensive sex education and society’s subtle shaming of women’s sexuality? A lot of ladies entrusting Google with their so-embarrassing-I-couldn’t-possibly-ask-any-of-the-women-in-my-life questions.
Think about it: you probably knew about boners and wet dreams long before you understood periods or vaginal discharge–and if we’re being honest, you still might not understand periods or vaginal discharge. In fact, a shocking 70% of women in one recent study couldn’t correctly identify their lady parts on an anatomical diagram. It’s no wonder that we sheepishly resort to to Google for these body basics, only to erase the browser history immediately after (can’t have anyone stumbling across that recent search for “asshole bleaching" now).
“Does my vagina look normal?”
When it comes to the appearance of our vaginas, every woman has wondered if what she’s workin’ with is normal. Quick answer: Yep. So why do we worry?
Tight, white vaginas are the norm in media, porn, and even Google image search (for real–Google “vagina” if you dare and behold the whitewashed page before you), and requests for labiaplasty (plastic surgery to shorten the labia) are at an all-time high. But the fact is, there is no norm. The color, size, and labia length of every vagina is different. Yours is special, one-of-a-kind–and yes, totally normal.
“Do I have HPV / is HPV a big deal?”
HPV is a conundrum for the modern woman. On one hand, it’s an STI that can lead to cervical cancer and that’s scary as hell. On the other, we’ve heard that everyone has HPV and it will go away on its own. So which is true?
Both. An estimated 75% of reproductive-age men and women have had HPV at some point, and in many cases it causes no symptoms or health issues and goes away on its own. This stat is so high because condoms don’t actually protect against HPV, and symptoms can present years after HPV has actually been transmitted. Most men never experience symptoms–but HPV can lead to genital warts or cervical cancer in women. There isn’t even a test for HPV (though an abnormal Pap smear may point to HPV as the culprit), and the only way to truly prevent HPV is to get vaccinated.
Quick answer: Yes, you probably have HPV. Nope, it’s probably not a big deal–but check with your gyno anyway.
Chances are you’ve heard about menstrual cups before, but only 2% of women are actively using a menstrual cup (and I have to assume that’s because the other 98% are not properly informed on its wonders).
The menstrual cup–a flexible, reusable, silicone cup–is the eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative to pads and tampons. Simply insert one into your vagina when you’re on your period to collect menstrual blood, then remove and clean at least twice a day. A menstrual cup can safely stay in your vagina for 12 hours and can last up to 10 years if properly cared for.
A few reasons this hasn’t gone mainstream yet: One, periods are still seen as “shameful” and “gross”–even to women–and the menstrual cup is a slightly more hands-on approach to menstrual management. Two, menstrual cups undercut the $20,000,000/year that tampons and pads generate for the companies and stores that sell them.
Quick answer: Using a menstrual cup is an easy way to normalize periods, save money, save the planet, and stand up to the man. Stop Googling and go get one.
“Can I get pregnant…”
Sad but true: women really have no idea what, exactly, can lead to pregnancy. We can somewhat blame this on abstinence-only sex ed. (To quote Mean Girls, “Don’t have sex. You will get pregnant and die.”)
Popular Google searches include the following:
Can I get pregnant from precum? Quick answer: Yes.
Can I get pregnant on my period? Quick answer: Yes.
Can I get pregnant if he pulls out? Quick answer: Yes.
Can I get pregnant with my tubes tied? Quick answer: Most likely no, but yes.
Can I get pregnant on birth control? Quick answer: Yes, there’s a 1% chance you will.
Can I get pregnant from oral sex? Quick answer: Nope.
There’s a good amount of information out there about having traditional sex for the first time: it will probably hurt, you’ll bleed a little bit, you most likely won’t orgasm. But there is a full-on dearth of information on anal sex. How do we do it? What potentially embarrassing things are going to happen? Do I have to bleach my asshole in preparation? The questions are infinite and the answers are scarce–even on Google.
Quick answer: Anal sex requires lots of lube. Use a condom, even if you’re monogamous, to prevent the spread of bacteria. It will hurt the most in the beginning as the tip goes in. You will probably feel like you’re pooping (you’re not). Just like with vaginal sex, you should go to the bathroom afterwards. No bleaching required.
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