Inevitably, multiple patients will come to my office every day apologizing for a variety of things:
“I’m so sorry I didn’t have a chance to shave.”
“Don’t look at my toenails! I’m sorry, I didn’t have time for a pedicure!”
“I didn’t have time to wax.”
“I have boob sweat.”
“I’m on my period.”
“I had unprotected sex.”
Listen to me very carefully: STOP APOLOGIZING!
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We, as OB-GYNs, have heard and seen it all. What may seem awkward to you is completely normal to us.
Pubic hair? Normal. Armpit hair? Normal. Sweating under the breasts? Totally normal? Curvy bodies? Normal. Different sized labia? Normal. Period blood? Absolutely normal (and also kind of our thing). Diversity in sexual practices? Normal!
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Society has us programmed to strive for an unattainable ideal, so much so that we forget that normal bodies and sexuality ARE acceptable and that normal bodies SHOULD be the ideal. Normalizing normal becomes harder and harder when we are bombarded with marketing and messaging that tells us otherwise.
Cleansing products tell us our vulvas and vaginas are dirty and need “balancing.” Shaving and waxing products tell us that smoother is cleaner and better. TikTok has trends of “innies” vs. “outies”, implying that one is uglier or less desirable than the other. All of these dichotomies of good vs. bad only serve to make us insecure about being on the wrong side. But there is no wrong side.
For example, pubic hair is actually healthy and protective. It protects delicate vulvar skin against chafing and infection. It protects natural skin oils and provides a natural skin barrier. Shaving or waxing it leaves our skin vulnerable to rashes, microabrasions and infections. Certainly, removing pubic hair has become trendy and there is nothing wrong with personal preferences. But somehow, a bare vulva has also become a symbol of “cleanliness” or even “purity.” This couldn’t be further from the truth.
So feel free to do whatever you want with your hair down there (or on your legs or armpits), but also be free to come as you are.
I can also promise that toenails and feet are not at all important to your OB-GYN. I don’t know anything about feet and could not care less about them.
Boob sweat is also not important or bothersome to us – unless you have hot flashes, and in that case, let’s discuss it more!
I am not here to judge anything about your body. I’m here to support you and help you become the healthiest and happiest version of yourself. I am here to reframe your perspective of what your body should be and instead celebrate what your body already is. Your body has done a lot for you, and we should appreciate its power.
And finally, normal bodies also may have sex. Diversity in sexual preferences, experiences and partners is very normal. I don’t care what you do to pleasure your body, again, as long as you are safe and healthy. It doesn’t matter how many partners you have had, or who your partners have been or what kind of sex you are having. But let’s talk about it without fear of judgment because what matters to me is that your relationships are consensual, safe and healthy. I can help ensure that your sexual health is optimized and protected.
Our exam rooms are incredibly intimidating at baseline, so I want to set the record straight ahead of time: a good healthcare provider will do their best to decrease fear and shame around these traditionally taboo and embarrassing topics.
So I promise, I’m not paying attention to your pubic hair, leg hair, toenails or anything else besides what we need to address.
Please feel free to come to my office just as you are and feel good about it, feel confident about it.
Because you have entered a judgment-free zone.
If you found this article useful, learn about three dangerous sexual health myths making the rounds on TikTok.
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