Wednesday, January 21, 2009
"My vagina is dying," my friend told me on the phone yesterday.
"Come on!" I replied as I put down my tea and instantly started doing kegels.
"No, really. My vagina is literally wasting away. My doctor says I have vaginal atrophy."
"No, shit!" I said as I pictured gravity having it's way with my friend's once taut pelvic muscles. "What's it from?"
"No estrogen. Fucking menopause...sucks."
My friend is a few years older than me and close to (if not already at) the dreaded "M". Which is actually just the closing ceremony for the preceding and interminable PM. All the mood swings, hot flashes, painful sex, weight gain, and other fun hormonal fluctuations that lead up to actual menopause are the real work of perimenopause, it's evil younger sister. Otherwise known as the P.M. of your life. Otherwise known as Pretty (freakin') Miserable.
"You have an angry vagina, the doctor told me," my friend continued. "My fucking vagina is red and swollen, shedding away, and withering on the vine. My vagina's angry? I'm the one who's fucking angry!"
Of course, I couldn't stop thinking about our conversation long after we hung up. I'm in my mid-late '40s and have had some signs of "PM," so naturally I couldn't help but think "there but for the grace of a few years go I." I googled vaginal atrophy and did some armchair research. Here is the Mayo Clinic's definition:
Vaginal atrophy (atrophic vaginitis) is a thinning and inflammation of the vaginal walls due to a decline in estrogen. Vaginal atrophy occurs most often after menopause, but it can also develop during breast-feeding or at any other time your body's estrogen production declines.
Symptoms include dryness, burning, painful intercourse, incontinence and a host of other "shoot me now" ailments. The silver lining on this dark and itchy cloud is that the discomfort is treated quickly and simply with creams or medication. The discomfort. Not the fact that your genitalia is dying.
My morbid curiosity got the best of me and I linked to other related sites (thanks Google); sites about pelvic organ prolapse, vaginal rejuvenation, and other side-slapping, life-affirming topics.
Nothing makes you feel your mortality like a decomposing vajayjay.
The research states that many women suffer from this ailment in silence, out of ignorance or embarrassment. It made me wonder, where's Oprah? Shouldn't she be out there warning us about this? Obviously her producer's let this one slip through the lady business cracks.
I mean, who is going to support us in our post baby factory years if not the big "O"?
And for that matter, where's Dr. Oz? I feel betrayed. Abandoned. Is this just another brick in the wall of the male conspiracy to keep women down? I don't see mens' penises shriveling up. Ohhhh noooooo. And, please, at the first signs that their machinery was aging, the pharmaceutical companies (run by men) and male medical researchers were up and adam developing Viagra, Levitra, and whatever else to keep those joy sticks pumping. But women? Nobody's rushing out to help us with our plunging pelvises and volatile vj's. Instead, we're told that the way to prevent having to dead-head our lady gardens is to have more sex. Lots and lots of sex. Ugh. Sound suspicious?
So where does this leave us? I'll tell you where...with husbands running off to find young, blushing pink, smiling privates, while we stand alone at the funerals for ours.
So, Oprah and Oz, you've got the world talking about evolution's reason for pubic hair, the size and color of our poop, and most recently (thank you) hormone therapy. Here is my suggestion for your next topic:
TAKING BACK OUR VAJAYJAYS.
The world is ready. We have you and Eve Ensler to thank for that.
We women want our vaginas back. NOW.
*photo courtesy of google images
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