We had the pleasure of chatting with our dream OB/GYN, Dr. Sherry! She’s an award-winning OB/GYN, entrepreneur, women’s health expert and author of the book, she-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period. Pretty impressive, right? To top it off, she’s also the founder of Cycl, a wellness platform that helps people understand their health and the 7 distinct cycles menstruators experience.
Basically, she’s a #bosslady, and we picked her brains on all things vagina – because who doesn’t like talking about vaginas?
1. How important are pelvic floor exercises and what are the best ones?
“Well I’m a big fan of pelvic floor exercises, kegel exercises are the best! They help strengthen the pelvic floor, the bladder, the uterus, and they’re awesome to do right after you’ve had a baby. They’re easy to do. The way you find your kegel exercise muscles is, you urinate, you start to pee, stop the flow, start the flow, and do that a few times...and that is your kegel muscles! You can do those in reps of 10, five times a day. It will help in the future to prevent loss of urine – great with sex too by the way! It helps with orgasms when you do a kegel exercise at the same time. So learn your kegels people!”
2. What are things you wish would be taught in every sex ed health class?
“So the top things would be know your anatomy, know your vagina, know where you clitoris is, know the purpose of the clitoris and learn how to masturbate so you know what feels good. Also know to be sexually active on your terms, very important! Don’t have sex when you’re not ready. And lastly, most importantly, you are an equal partner in bed so you gotta ask for that orgasm! Make sure it happens it’s not just about your partner but it’s about both of you!”
We’d add that, as well as getting to know your body, you need to understand your cycle. And, when it comes to being equal partners in bed, keep the conversation flowing between you. Don’t make assumptions. Find out how to talk to your partner about period sex, for example.
3. What is queefing? Is it a bad thing? Is it healthy?
“Well queefing, vaginal fluctuants, varts, call it whatever you want, is just a phenomenon that happens when air gets into the vagina. The vagina is a dead end, there’s not much back there (haha). So if with fingers, or penis, or sex toys, you introduce air into the vagina, it’s gotta come out someway and it comes out in the sound of a queef (vaginal fart), the good thing is there’s no odor to it. If it happens with sex, don’t be embarrassed, just laugh about it, we all go through it!”
4. How can I measure the length of my cervix at home?
“You can just use your finger, the tip of the cervix feels like your nose and if you haven’t had a baby usually it’s on the smaller side. With each pregnancy it gets a little bit bigger, so you can generally go small [with a menstrual cup], depending on how much blood you’re having with your period because that might determine the size of the cup you want. If you’re bleeding heavily then you’re gonna go large, and if you’re at the end of your cycle you’re probably going to want to use the smaller size.”
5. Is waxing good or bad for the health of my vagina?
“I’m a big fan of waxing because it’s really good for the skin of the vagina, it takes those pubic hairs from the root and that’s a good thing in that it minimizes ingrown hairs even though they still can happen (worst with shaving!) but it is a nice way of keeping the vagina happy! It is painful but if you can do it and you can wait 3-4 weeks for the regrowth, it can be worth it!”
6. Do you ever recommend using natural birth control methods?
“Probably the most natural birth control method is the famous rhythm method, or the “fertility awareness method” as they’re often called, but they’re not the most reliable. If you have a regular cycle, meaning your period is coming monthly and you tend to know when you’re ovulating, if you do anything natural you want to use a period tracker because that’s going to highlight the high-risk time of your cycle and you want to avoid having sex. It’s available for people who are very good at keeping track of their cycle but also know there’s a likelihood of getting pregnant so be careful with it!”
Read our article on understanding your menstrual cycle.
7. Is the vagina really self-cleaning?
“This is a really great question, and the truth is the vagina is not really self-cleaning. I’m a big fan of a non-fragrant soap that you can use and clean the outside of the labia. And the inside I usually recommend the first of second knuckle of your finger, you put it into the vagina, you clean it a little bit, and it keeps the vagina clean and the skin clean as well!”
8. How important is it to have a happy vagina and keep up with the health of it?
“Well this is really important, you know very simply put, your vagina has to be a priority, you have to talk about it, you have to understand it and learn about it, and certainly talk about issues that may be uncomfortable at least initially. The more you talk about it, the more you embrace it, the happier vagina you will have!”
Since we met up with Dr Sherry, we had a couple more questions we were “itching” to know the answers to – so we did our own homework.
9. Why is my vagina wet/dry/itchy?
Vaginal lubrication mostly depends on the time of your cycle. Our article on fertility awareness explain all about the cervical mucus method. It’s amazing what you can work out from your vaginal discharge.
10. Why is my vagina big/loose?
There’s no such thing as a “normal” vagina. And definitely no right or wrong. It comes down to what you’re born with, like big feet or a big nose. In fact the shape of birth canals varies enormously around the world. The majority of textbooks focus on Western women and this may have skewed people’s perceptions on how different our bodies really are.