It's important to become as familiar with the appearance of our sexual organs as we are with other parts of our bodies. Have you squatted in front of a mirror to look at your vulva? Ever wanted to see your own cervix? Let us guide you...
FROM "OUR BODIES, OURSELVES"
A Self-Guided Sexual Anatomy Tour
In talking with other women about our bodies and learning the biological facts, we arrive at a new respect for the beings we are. We equip ourselves with information of use to us in our daily lives and become active participants in our own health and medical care.
Supplies Needed for the Tour:
- Self-standing mirror (or one you can prop up).
- Flashlight or self-standing spotlight style lamp.
- Plastic vaginal speculum (ask your gynecologist for an extra one or purchase one online for $10).
We have found that with just a mirror we can see how we look on the outside. The women's self-help movement encourages us to look inside at our vaginal walls and cervix (lower part of the uterus). To examine ourselves, we use a mirror, flashlight and a clean plastic speculum, an instrument that we insert into the vagina and gently open up. We can do self-exams alone or with others, once or often. With practice we can see how the cervix and vaginal walls change with the menstrual cycle, with pregnancy or with menopause, and learn to recognize various vaginal infections.
It has taken a while for some of us to get over our inhibitions about seeing or touching our genitals.
Still uncertain about checking out your sexual anatomy? Read one woman's story about her first self-guided anatomy tour -- it might inspire you to try it for yourself.
When someone first said to me two years ago, "You can feel the end of your own cervix with your finger," I was interested but flustered. I had hardly ever put my finger in my vagina at all and felt squeamish about touching myself there, in that place "reserved" for lovers and doctors. It took me two months to get up my nerve to try it, and then one afternoon, pretty nervously, I squatted down in the bathroom and put my finger in deep, back into my vagina. There it was, feeling slippery and rounded, with an indentation at the center through which, I realized, my menstrual flow came. It was both very exciting and beautifully ordinary at the same time. Last week I bought a plastic speculum so I could look at my cervix. Will it take as long this time?
the vulva, labia and clitoris >>>
Last reviewed: June, 2001
Material is excerpted from "Our Bodies, Ourselves for the New Century, A Book by and for Women" by the Boston Women's Health Book Collective and published by Simon & Schuster, New York (May 1998). Our Bodies, Ourselves may be purchased through the Boston Women's Health Book Collective for $24.00 (shipping and handling included). To obtain ordering information, go to the Boston Women's Health Book Collective's