“I’m Never Going To Stop Talking About Fanny.”

“I’m never going to stop talking about fanny.” 

These words seem to tumble out of my mouth pretty much every week, but it’s true. I shall never stop going on and on about vaginas, or penises for that matter. Nowadays when people see me, they don’t ask me how I am or how the acting is going, it’s all about my vagina! (That just shows how much I go on about it) but how nice is that? I think that’s lovely. We should be asking one another more frequently how each other’s genitals are doing. Are they well? Have they had any recent catastrophes? Do they need any help? Then we could banish that stupid abbreviation, ‘TMI’ from the English language.

This little train of thought is part of my ongoing, never ending, very frank, open, honest, sometimes gory, frustrating, glorious and certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, vagina mission.

Don’t stop me now, I’m having such a good time, I’m having a BALL!

 

Right. I know what you’re all thinking; I can’t just stroll back into your lives like that allusive, chiselled lover who never texts you back and you want to forget about. I know, I know, I know I’m sorry. I’m walking back into your life unannounced and still as inconsistent as ever, but I do still like you I promise! I’ve not been neglecting you for somebody else, I’d never do that baby, you gotta believe me… That would only happen if Beyonce called and asked me to be her live in nanny, then you really would never hear from me again. Boy bye. 

Anyway, bloody hell Soph get to the point. Here is a little update on what’s been goin’ on, hence my slight neglect over here on the blog. Mainly hospital appointments and fanny admin but I’ve also been cooking up a few project ideas with some fellow vagina babes and all round creative goddesses and that’s something to celebrate! I also understand that some of you probably don’t care and that’s completely fine, but if you do…  

  • I went back to the gynae clinic and had my follow up colposcopy appointment after more abnormal results cropped up on my smear test. I was, as always, a nervous wreck leading up to my appointment and no amount of mindfulness or yoga was working. It’s my own fault, I’m a self diagnosed over-thinker. But actually, I was pleasantly surprised by my recent trip down gynae lane. After a small cry in the lift up to the ward, I had the world’s loveliest, no sh*t, no nonsense nurse who lifted me up off the floor and told me I had nothing to worry about. And for the first time ever, I believed her. She examined the abnormal cells, told me to pop my knickers back on and to come back in a year as she thinks these pesky cells will have chilled out by then. There was no “oh, this looks a bit worrying”. No biopsies. No “come back in July for another look just to be safe”. So yay, thank you vagina gods! Now if you could just keep looking over me for the next year that would be grand too! 

 

  • I took my first ever pregnancy test. They’re a bit terrifying aren’t they?! I weed into a cardboard pot, filled it up to the very top even after telling the nurse I’d just been for one and wouldn’t be able to get anything out. 

 

  • I wrote a blog post (that I was really proud of) talking about smear test results, abnormalities, the HPV virus etc etc. I had all the facts and figures, it was beautifully colour coded ready to go in my drafts and then I deleted it by accident. Thanks Mum for giving me your technology incompetence gene.

However, in hindsight it was probably way too long and ain’t nobody got time to read all of that, so it will be a dedicated podcast episode instead… 

 

  • THE PODCAST! The podcast which you probably think is never going to happen, but IT IS! IT IS, I can assure you. I’m currently recording what will hopefully be a little podcast for your ears, how exciting! I’m not doing it alone either, I’ve managed to rope in one of my best pals and we’re just finding our groove at the moment e.g spending hours chatting (about things we know nothing about) into a microphone. The podcast itself is not about vaginas so for those of you who have had more than enough fanny talk, you will be safe to listen if you so wish. But there will be special ‘GASH GOSSIP’ EPISODES! Yippee!

Coming soon to (hopefully an accessible, legal) platform (that isn’t going to give your device a million viruses) near you! 

 

  • I have come off the contraceptive pill. Woop woop! For the first time in 10 years, I am minus a couple of extra hormones and I feel foocking fantastic. Again, another reason to get this podcast up and running because there’s so much positive stuff to say on my pill-free experience so far. 

 

  • Whilst not writing here on the blog, I’ve been exhausting my Gmail with email after email in order to connect with some fab vagina crusaders out there. The most exciting person I’ve been harassing is Karen Hobbs, who you might have heard me bang on about before. She is a comedian, writer and ‘Info Babe’ at the Eve Appeal. Most recently she appeared in the C4 documentary, ‘100 Vaginas’ and she’s a full time smasher of all the stigmas surrounding gynaecological cancers. We’ll be doing a recorded episode with Karen about her journey to ultimate ‘vagina babe’ status and how/why she got there. This will involve some of my ramblings on the HPV virus – something that Karen knows a lot about and I think it will be really useful for everyone to soak up her wisdom.

 

  • I brought a coffee table for £15. Nothing to do with vaginas, but what an absolute bargain?! 

 

  • And finally, I’ve been thinking: “What can I be doing to get more education on vagina health out there in to the world, as well as over here on my beloved blog?” There needs to be more information on subjects such as HPV, how HPV effects the cells in the cervix (and other parts of the body too) and why abnormalities aren’t as scary as one may think. There should be more education on cervical screenings, gentling introducing the subject way before the first “invitation” arrives. Let’s just give the people out there with little to no knowledge on their vulva, vagina, cervix, womb, clitoris, flaps, bits, everything between your legs, some more bloody information! 

Because where is the line between too much information and not enough? 

IS THERE ONE?!

 

I don’t know. All I know is that the info I’ve accumulated over the last two years from doctors, nurses, consultants, women’s health charities and women’s health campaigners is essential information that everyone with a vulva deserves to hear, read, know.

I had to chase it to know it but knowing it already would change the way our health system works. It would change the education system. It would mean the difference between preventative and reactive medical care. It would help to prevent catastrophes happening to our genitals. It would mean that women were more confident and less afraid of their intimate health. It would mean we would be taken seriously at our appointments. It would mean less worrying and more control as we would be armed with the knowledge that we need

And knowledge is power. 

That’s my vagina mission.  

Soph xx

If you would like to join said mission please do drop me a message and join in the party, the more the merrier!

 

 

 

Guess Whose Back, Back Again, Cells Are Back, Tell a Friend!

Guess whose back back, back again, ABNORMAL CELLS are back back, tell a friend friend. Yep. That’s right. They’re back.

In the words of Catherine Tate’s Nan, “what a load of old *BEEEEEEEEEEEP!*

 

BUT on the up side, hello! I’m back too ! Slim Shady Sophie is the name, vagina problems seem to be my game. This isn’t quite the entrance I had in mind after taking a 2 month hiatus but life has a funny way of pushing you towards the things you’ve neglected. I’m taking this recent piece of particularly crappy news as a chance to fall back in love with writing about fanny and come back to my beloved Gash Gossip. 

If you follow me on social media, you’ll know that I’ve been hinting at a possible podcast with episodes specifically for Gash Gossip. That will still be happening (along with some more writing bits) so just hold on to your panties, I’m working on it! But before that kicks off, this girl is marching her cervix back to the hospital for further inspection in its own one off episode, “Cells Are Taking Over My Life – Part II.”

I received my smear test results this weekend and the results show more abnormal cells. I also tested positive for the HPV virus. Double whammy. Huzzah, hooray, many congratulations to my vagina for passing the test with flying colours! I managed to tick all of the boxes available: abnormal cells AND HPV. 

 

I feel like before I begin properly, a quick run down on HPV would be good (although I do plan on writing something separate about it too as it’s a bit of a minefield and different for men and women.)

“Human papilloma virus (HPV) is the name for a group of viruses that affect your skin and the moist membranes lining your body. There are more than 100 types of HPV. Around 40 types of HPV infection can affect the genital area. Genital HPV infections are common and highly contagious. They’re spread during sexual intercourse and skin-to-skin contact of the genital areas. The virus can cause abnormal tissue growth and for women, changes to cells within the cervix – this can sometimes lead to cervical cancer. About 80% of sexually active people are infected with HPV at some point in their lives, but most people never know they have the virus.” 

And yes, I was vaccinated when I was 14. And yes, a strain has still found its way into my system. Now back to the blog!

 

Just imagine a crisp, sunny afternoon back in February. Sophie and her cervix turn up for their first smear test together. Yes, this is their first real one. How exciting! Feeling light, refreshed and full of hope they lie down in the familiar sticky leather seat, legs akimbo and await the familiar sensation of a stranger crawling into their nether regions. They’ve been here before, this is not their first rodeo but it feels like a monumental moment given last years dramatic events. *Swish swoosh* and the swab is done, the knickers are back on and the nurse cheerily says as the door opens, “let’s hope everything is better this time around!

Cut to a drizzly, grey Sunday in March. Sophie and her cervix are full of roast potatoes and Pinot Grigiot – they are both feeling very happy and content. 

SMACK. The letter arrives. (‘Smack‘ for dramatic effect, as if it landed on the door mat unexpectedly and full of impact… But everyone knows post doesn’t arrive on Sunday and actually it was just handed over to me, gracefully.) 

Sophie already knew as she was opening it that it was not going to be the news she hoped for. It’s true about that gut instinct thing. 

“The laboratory found some slightly abnormal, ‘low grade’ cells.”

“The laboratory also tested your sample for HPV and found that you have the HPV infection.”

A colposcopy referral has been made for you.

“Sucks to be you, babe.” 

 

Since opening the letter I have cried on and off hourly. Twice on the train, once on the tube and a lot on my sofa whilst eating grapes sandwiched between chocolate buttons because I’m trying to maintain a healthy balanced diet, obviously. 

What does this all mean you ask? Truth is, I have absolutely no idea. But I can tell you it feels like I’m back in 2018 when my life first became about vaginas, cells, blood, doctors, clinics and massive sanitary pads. I don’t want to be back there, it wasn’t fun. I want to be here in 2019 with my chocolate grape sarnies.

Safe to say I’m feeling pretty pants. More than pants. 

Right now I’m awaiting an appointment at the colposcopy clinic. I’m guessing this is where I’ll get more of an idea of what my next step is and just how badly HPV is effecting my cervix. I’m hoping for a bit of reassurance too, please. 

(Now I’ve cried a total of 12 times. Dang it.)

I’ll also be able to ask all of my questions! Is this HPV going to kill me eventually? Can I still eat cheese? Why hasn’t my body fought off the virus already? Will I have it forever? How long have I had it for? Is this all because I had a bout of smoking in my teens? I thought it was cool!! Are these abnormal cells new or old? Little bits left over from last time? Are they changing quickly? Are they changing right now?! Are they everywhere?!

Will you have to cut out another chunk of my cervix?

Will I still be able to have children?

(13 times.)

I’m scared. And I’m embarrassed. HPV feels shameful. Why is that? It makes me feel like an unhealthy, greasy…. ball of bad. Apparently your immune system is the front-line soldier that should be fighting the virus off, but mine hasn’t so far. I’ll have to start drinking green tea, which I hate, make broccoli smoothies for breakfast and do yoga 6 times a day.

But I don’t think HPV is as simple as just being able to “fight it off”. It’s not a cold, it’s a bit nastier than that. Creeping about in your body mostly undetected and causing havoc.   

I’ve probably just got a bad case of the ‘unluckies’ (yes that’s a thing, I’m making it a thing.) 

(Oh man, 15 times.)

Right snap out of it, dry your eyes and quickly come up with some positives Sophie. When life gives you lemons, make a gin and tonic for goodness sake, girl! 

Positives:

1. Last year they found moderate abnormal cells in my cervix, which are effectively in the middle of the ‘good to bad scale’. Now I have mild abnormal cells, which are at the bottom of the scale. So at least it’s not as bad as last time. 

2. I am only aware of these changes because I went for my routine smear test. It’s a big reminder that the smear is one of the most important tests a woman will take in her life. It could save a life and that isn’t me being over dramatic for once. 

3. The wonderful BAE brought me chocolate buttons… and then ginger, mangoes and spinach to make morning smoothies (no broccoli in sight) to try and boost my immune system by 100! 

4. I am going to be an expert in abnormal cells and HPV when this is all over and it will be over. You hear me HPV? I’m coming for you, don’t get too comfy down there! 

 

Okay, that feels a bit better. I needed to write all of that. Clear my head a bit. 

This will not make me miserable like it did before. 2019 wasn’t going too badly and I refuse to let a repeat of 2018 happen, I REFUSE! 

 

I really hope all of you that received your test results failed miserably. In other words I hope you got 0 marks! If you haven’t had one yet, get one. I’m serious. And if you’re a person that doesn’t need a smear test, I hope you’re holding someone’s hand that might need it after having one. 

Throwing a lot of pussy positivity at you. I’m sprinkling it all over myself today too, it’s sparkly. 

Be back soon, 

Soph and her formidable cervix. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018 – Broken Genitalia & Shattered Dreams

Disclaimer: This post was written within the throws of Christmas. The chocolate was a flowing, the wine was a pouring and the heightened anticipation for the year ahead was a rising. Nether the less, it’s 97.9% all still relevant…

 

2018 – Broken Genitalia & Shattered Dreams. I know, not the most positive title ever. Very dramatic. But as I lay in bed last night, after stuffing myself stupid with chocolate orange and mystery ‘chocolate balls’ from the village bakery, I thought that ‘broken genitals’ and ‘shattered dreams’ summed up my year quite nicely. It truly was the first thing that came into my head. But most importantly it can only mean onward and upwards for 2019, right? (Please tell me that’s right.)  

I thought I would do a look back on 2018 as it was quite the bumpy ride. I’m kind of glad it is over. At the end of each year the negatives of 12 months stick fastest in my mind (hence the over egged title) and the small achievements just float away, never to be remembered again. But I’m hoping that writing some of them down will help me to hold on to them as 2019 begins. After all, that is what turned many negatives into true positives in 2018, writing them all down and starting a whole blog dedicated to them! Plus my Mum always says, “if in doubt, write it down.” So although I actually feel like screaming 2018 YOU LITTLE *$%”/!’#… I’ll refrain and instead open my palms heavenward and say to myself in a gentle, meditative tone, “but what have you learned, Sophie?”

 

Gash Stuff 

RECAP! This time last year I was experiencing bleeding after sex. Every time. Bleeding after sex and pain during could be a sign of cervical cancer, especially if it happens frequently. I was given a number of internal examinations and my GP found an ectropion on the entrance to my cervix which was causing the bleeding. 6 months later, I was still bleeding and it was giving me 0 confidence and a bad sex life. I requested a smear test, but was denied one because of my age so my doctor referred me for a colposcopy. This is when the consultant found a collection of CIN 2, mild abnormal cells in my cervix that were later removed by loop excision treatment. The cells were believed to have changed due to the HPV virus which I had been vaccinated against when I was 17. I was then bleeding for a total of 6 weeks post treatment and felt like poop. It took me a long time to recover mentally. Sex became scary. I lost a lot of confidence and I spent the rest of the year comfort eating. 

CUT TO NOW. I haven’t bled after sex IN AGES. Go vagina! And lube has been a life saver. I’m going for my first actual smear test this month and that will tell me whether I have anymore abnormal cells/if I still have the HPV virus in my system. Let’s hope not. I still worry. I still check my pants for unexpected blood and examine the tissue carefully after going for a wee. But my vagina and I are friends I think, we’ve come to an understanding. As long as I know how to help her, she is happy. I’ve also understood the hype behind smear tests. They are life savers. If you haven’t already, book your smear test this month and let’s all go together. One big smear party!

 

Other Stuff

My epiphany of 2018 is that our mental and physical health is much more intertwined than we think. Whilst my body was experiencing the ups and downs of a semi-functioning cervix, my mind was having a mini meltdown. Even after everything was fixed and the problem solved, my head was all over the shop. I felt sad, scared, overwhelmed – all the emotions I didn’t want to feel after being put back together! It’s taken me a while to get through that. I’m now not frantically checking to see if there’s blood on the bed sheets using my phone torch and I’m certainly not crying quietly on the toilet at midnight worrying my tits off.

However, after spending so much time concentrating on the needs of my lady bits and the effect it was having on my peace of mind, I’m now faced with the real question of: what the hell am I actually doing? What will 2019 bring? As some of you may or may not know I’m an actor, currently not in work and at one point I was working 3 different other jobs, none of them to do with the arts or theatre making. In fact, I had only 6 days paid acting work in 2018. The rest of the time I was having existential crises about whether I am good enough to do it. That is still a battle I have with myself daily but I am ready for a fresh start. I’ve got to keep going! Just all the vag related stuff didn’t help. At all.

 

Achievements

Now, the best bit. I urge you all to do the same before the New Year properly kicks in. The first week doesn’t really count after all, does it? As well as writing down all of your hopes and dreams for the year ahead, write down all those achievements you made possible last year.

  • I started a blog dedicated to vaginas with the aim to make talking about fannies normal. I shared my own story in the hope that other women would go to the doctors for answers if they thought something was wrong. I wanted and will continue to try and open up all conversations related to women’s health in 2019.
  • I quit one of my ‘muggle’ jobs and found a different one that makes me happier and gives me my weekends back. 
  • I fell in love and made the move out of London. Now I live in a teeny cottage with the sweetest man on the planet and we have a terrarium. 
  • I spent 6 months of the year concentrating on my vagina, followed my gut instincts on getting the right diagnosis and recovered from an invasive procedure that had left me feeling pretty yucky. 
  • My blog posts encouraged friends to book the smear tests and appointments they had been putting off. 
  • I became a surrogate auntie to baby Z and the proudest, most emotional best friend EVER. 

 

My Goals/Hopes/Dreams/Aspirations/Desperation’s

Don’t give up. Get some acting work. Keep my cervix and vagina healthy. Watch Handmaid’s Tale Season 2 somewhere!!! Pass my driving test. Keep Gash Gossip going, make it bigger and better than before. Write more. Worry less. Go on bike rides with BAE. Eat more spinach.

 

Thank you 2018, for teaching me how to be open, cry until I laugh, the art of wearing sanitary pads, conquer my fears, attend hospital appointments without having panic attacks and take control. Even when I wanted to give up, you kept kicking me up the proverbial bum to stick with it. I would have said a kick up the proverbial vagina to be topical, but that would just hurt. A lot. 

So many of my favourite women in this world have had their fair share of challenges this past year, whether it be in the nether regions or not. The power of us all sticking together like those two emoji’s that wear kitten heels and devil horns is paramount. Never under-estimate the power of hugs and WhatsApp messages to each other. 

Thank you for all of your kind words throughout 2018, it has meant the world and more. If I could buy you all ‘chocolate balls’ from the bakery I would, but BAE and I would end up eating them all before I gave them to you. 

Stick around for exciting things to come this year, including more writing, more vaginas, stuff you can get involved with and maybe even a couple of different exciting mediums to spread the Gossip. And as always, if you have anything you want to talk about here on Gash Gossip you know where to find me.

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas & here’s to A Happy Healthy Vagina.

Sophie xxx

 

 

 

 

 

A Fanny Emporium – Florence Schecter & Her Vagina Museum

A couple of months ago I was pointed in the direction of Florence Schechter. ‘Schechter’ said with as much gusto as you can muster! Because this woman is full of said gusto. Amongst all of her many other attributes, she is the director of the world’s first Vagina Museum. Yep. An actual Vagina Museum. Isn’t that the best thing you’ve ever f****** heard?

What a completely magical, pussy positive idea. A museum for vaginas – something that hadn’t occurred to me didn’t exist. There is a Penis Museum in Iceland. There is a Sex Museum in Amsterdam (full of giant penises). There are penis shaped bottle openers in Tenerife. But where is our giant hall with high ceilings filled with vagina anatomy sculptures? Oh yeah, it doesn’t exist. Even with all the best efforts of some exceptional women out there, vaginas and everything that comes with them are still taboo! But Florence and her team are another organisation striving to make this particular societal change.

First let me introduce you to the woman herself. Florence is a comedian, presenter, video producer and trainer. She has a BSc in Biochemistry, her own solo comedy show called “Queer by Nature” and an a-symmetrical labia. She makes science weird and hilarious – because it is. Florence also fills all of the gaps in one’s knowledge about fannies/the patriarchy/making a change/how to juggle jobs/remain as cool as a cucumber etc etc. We like her a lot. 

Now she is embarking on creating the world’s first brick and mortar Vagina Museum. A museum that will provide knowledge and understanding of the female anatomy, as well as the vaginas place in our culture and history through various different mediums. All of this (and more) under one roof, inclusive for EVERYONE. It is going to be epic. So I went along to Vagina Museum HQ to find out more. 

Since announcing the project, Florence has been inundated with emails from women telling her that they had wanted to do the same thing, but other commitments had always got in the way. Of course other women have wanted to make a Fanny Emporium. It feels like the world needs this. We need it. I need it. I needed it a year ago! There are hundreds of pictures of fannies plastered all over the internet, yet little conversations about them. And so yes, we definitely need a place, a community, a base for the vaginas of the world to come together. 

So how is this exciting space shaping up so far? Well, Florence and the team have already held temporary exhibitions, e.g a pop up art exhibition, appropriately named “Exhibitionist” and now they are moving on to the next part of the project, honing down on an interim space. This would involve taking over a space for a couple of years and turning it into a museum as a proof of concept”Florence explained. “We can show the world that this is what we can do and this is what we can achieve. After the temporary space where will be able to build up support, we can then get a more permanent space for 10 years or a permanent permanent space.” A forever space. Although, Florence is in no hurry, building a permanent museum takes 10 years. Right now it is about showing the world why we need it. 

Florence recently toured a 60 minute talk called “Why The World Needs a Vagina Museum” and so I had to ask her WHY? “Why? Because we don’t have one and it’s not very fair. Vaginas are such an important part of our history and heritage. They massively effect our lives. They are life-centric things that we need to understand because there is so much missed information out there.” A lot of missed information and a lot of shame. To fight the shame, Florence believes there needs to be a big societal change. “This kind of change will start at a grass roots level but must translate into something bigger. That’s what this is. Museums are used by society to flag post what they think is important. Why is there not a single society that says vaginas are important to us?” 

Before meeting with Florence, I knew there was a lot of change that needed to happen with regards to the way we talk about our intimate health and experiences, but whilst chatting it became apparent that it is bigger than that. The environment around us tell us how we are allowed to engage with our bodies. Society and religion play a massive part in the way some women think and talk about their vaginas. It is crazy to think that those sources control our most intimate organs, but as Florence said “that is the point.” 

“I grew up in a religiously conservative environment. I went to a religious school so I had a lot of ‘you can’t talk about this sort of thing’. For example, when I was in Jewish studies class we were being taught by a Rabbi that masturbation was a sin because it was a ‘waste of seed’, meaning the semen could have been life. I put my hand up and said ‘what about female masturbation? That doesn’t waste seeds.’ He replied that it was an inappropriate sexual feeling and that masturbation was bad full stop.

Religion will always control who you have sex with and who you have children with and these are massively vagina related. They have certain rules that control our bodies. For example, in Judaism there’s this thing called the Mikvah. If you are having your period you are untouchable [you can’t engage with sexual activities.] When your period is finished you go to get it certified by your Rabbi and then you go to the Mikvah, which is essentially a baptism pool, where you can spiritually cleanse yourself. When this is done, you can have sex again.”

It dawned on me during this chat that the reasons for our vagina taboos run deeper than just not being able to talk about them through embarrassment. There are rules and regulations too. And anyway, how can we base knowledge and open up conversations on something we know very little about. Especially when that ‘something’ happens to be part of our anatomy and the reason we are all here on this planet.

“I would like to learn more of the history of vaginas. It has been brushed under the carpet and often deliberately erased because historians don’t know how to deal with it. It can be hard to find actual vagina history.”

If you happen to know anything about vagina history, let us know! Because there has never been a lesson on it. Sure it’s great to know about all the male leaders of the world in history GCSE but I can bet your bottom dollar I would have got an A* if I was learning about the so far surprisingly, very brief history on our vaginas.

Lastly, I asked Florence to tell me 3 things she loved about her own vagina and 3 things she didn’t love so much. Mainly because I like to be nosey but also it seemed only fair as we’d spent most of the time discussing all other vaginas but her own.  

LOVING: 

  1. It is unique because I have an a-symmetrical labia.
  2. I like the fact it can do great things e.g give me pleasure and one day have babies.
  3. It doesn’t mind when I tell stories about it. I tell stories about it all the time. I’m very open about it.

NOT SO MUCH LOVING:

  1. I can’t orgasm when I need to pee and I can’t just stop in the middle of it!
  2. It took me a long time to enjoy penetrative sex because I was so nervous about it. My vagina would close up and it would really hurt. Once I had waited to find a partner that I really liked, that’s when I started to enjoy it. I hate the fact that it happened and I wish I had known that when I started.
  3. And lastly, if my pubic hair gets too long it gets matted and tangled. I’m terrified when I’m having sex that my partner will go down there and his fingers will get stuck. I make sure I trim but I also sneakily comb it out before sex. 

You heard it here first ladies. A quick and easy fix to silky smooth pubes is the old fashioned finger comb.


 

I can safely say I learnt more about fannies in this 45 minute chat than I have done from any educator, book or lesson EVER and I think that’s sh*t. There is vital information out there that every one with or without a vagina should know. This will make it possible for us all to understand, experience and communicate with each other on them. We would also be able to tackle problems head on whether it be health related or societal, rather than ignoring them. 

I urge you all to go and pledge your support over on the Vagina Museum website. This is proof to potential partners that the museum isn’t working in isolation and that we all agree “YES, WE ABSOLUTELY NEED THIS!” There will also be lots of information on their site in the new year about other ways you can get involved, for example attending an embroidery workshop where you learn to embroider A VAGINA. I’m so in. 

Also make sure to check out Florence and all the exciting stuff she is up to. Her solo comedy show, “Queer by Nature” is going to the Vaults Festival in February and it sounds like an absolute blast as well as educational. What more could you want? 

Spread the Vagina Museum word and obvs tell your mates about the Gash Goss, 

Your forever pussy pal, 

Soph x

For ALL the information: 
http://www.vaginamuseum.co.uk
https://www.floschechter.com/
Twitter: 
@vagina_museum 
@floschechter

 

Hormones 1, Me 0.

This is something I wrote a while back during the ‘month from the fire-y flames of hell‘.  I was reminded it was still in my drafts after a recent run in with hormones and an unexpected period. Everything pretty much still applies. Hormones happen. Every day. And every month, they get multiplied by 1000. Enjoy.
– Sophie x

“A hormonal mess? Me? No. I’m not. I’m not. Nope. Never! How dare you say something so rude and quite frankly insensitive. Am I coming on my period? Oh boy, you just keep digging, don’t you? Am I coming on my period? Well let’s see, judging from the huge white head on my chin, that also appears to be sprouting a thin black hair, the uncontrollable tears, bloating, constipation and need for affection I would say yes. YES, FOR A MATTER OF FACT. YES. I. AM. 

(Beat)

It’s just because I’m a woman isn’t it? My low mood means I must be menstruating mustn’t it? Because all women who aren’t smiling must be on the rag! Is that it? I’m a feminist you know. A REALLY STRONG, FEM…*starts crying* I’m not finished with you yet, I just need to go and cry for a little bit because it’s true, I am a hormonal mess. 

“There is not enough willpower to push through a hormone imbalance, your hormones will always win.” – Said someone once. 

Hello my name is Sophie and I have been bleeding for 4 weeks, so far. The other day I cried because my boyfriend had his arm around another woman in a photo, my pad was stuck to my leg instead of my pants and I am just one big walking hormonal catastrophe. There I’ve said it. And what I’ve learnt recently is that it is completely okay to admit that. You know what, no I’m not great today, I’m feeling particularly hormonal, teary and I just need some space and Friends on Netflix. Sure, you might be able to tell I am coming on my period or that it is currently in motion, but that doesn’t actually bother me because I can still do everything you can, whilst bleeding. 

Saying that, this has to be the worst period I have had since I was 16. Having not taken my normal break from the pill after my surgery, I knew it was going to be a messy one. On doctor’s advice I continued taking the pill for an extra month. I know this is completely normal for some women as this is one of the positives of the contraceptive, you don’t have to have a period every month. However, I have always chosen to. I will admit that this is mainly to make sure it works and I’m not growing a baby but also because to me, my period is natural and without one, my body goes into meltdown. So having bled for 3 weeks post surgery, I’ve just entered my 4th week of bleeding, this time it’s my period and boy oh boy… I’ve been bad.
Hormones

I’m an emotional person anyway, pretty sensitive, love to let it all out but good god, it’s like I have been watching the dog die in Marley & Me on repeat. If I don’t let the tears out at least once a day, my ducts would probably explode and I would die. So I don’t have much of a choice. I wake up, sit up, cry. Shower. Cry. Get to work. Cry. Customer says something flippant and irritating. Cry. Look at the blood in my pants. Cry. Tube. Cry. Bus. Cry. Bed. Cry. You get the picture. I know, it sounds really sad. Most of the time I don’t even know what I am crying about. I just know I am sad. Then I cry because I think, oh I’m a sad person, I don’t want to be a sad person, this is so shit. Cry. Yay for the cry cycle! 

Another thing that has made this experience all the more joyful has been the sanitary pads. I am usually a tampon user. I’m sorry, I should be using moon-cups I know. But the thought of being in a public place and spilling it all over me in an attempt to get it out terrifies me. I’ll try it at some point, but I can’t promise a miraculous conversion. I’m definitely not convinced on pads either. I’ve been using them since my surgery (as I haven’t been able to use tampons) and I have the leakage fear every hour. Of course it’s whatever works for you and whatever is going to make you feel the most comfortable during your 5-7 day trip to hell. Tampons do it for me. They keep it all up there out of sight! Out of sight out of mind. Plus my pants are not suitable for pads. I had to take a trip to Primark, buy the largest pants that give camel toe galore and took away any dignity I had left. (Sophie talking in the present day, “I have since thrown these pants in the bin. Ugly cretin pants!”)

I just cannot put into words, without a lot of bad language, how horrible this menstruation has been. The emotional instability, the incomprehensible phone calls to BAE, the bloody knickers, the pains deep in my womb and the constant churning of vital organs. It is a miracle I  have lived to tell the tale. Okay, that’s a bit dramatic, but it has been les miserables. How many of you experience a period like this, but every bleedin’ month?

However, on a positive note it has made me think about how great us vagina wearers are. We go to work, teach, save people’s lives, bring new life into the world, compete, debate, run for trains, nod when a customer is wrong whilst bleeding, cramping and doubling over in pain. When really we wish we were at home in a hot bath or our beds, preparing to do it all again the next day. We’re incredible. And so, whilst trying to maintain our positive attitudes and complete daily duties, we do sometimes feel the need to get emotional, angry, frustrated and sometimes a little impatient to be honest… given the circumstances, I think that’s fine. Completely fine. 

So let the hormones win! They make us human. They give us drive and determination as well as running mascara and cravings for Dominoes cookies. They make us different. Powerful. I love my hormones. I’d be nothing without them. I love my period and I bloody love being a woman.

Well.. I’ll let you know if I still feel the same in 2 weeks time when the red sea parts once more.

– Written some time in August.


Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this bonus post. It’s nearing the end of 2018, the year I started Gash Gossip and started sorting out my vagina woes. I want to continue sharing the fanny love well in to the next year and the year after that. Sharing more stories and helping more ladies book that appointment they’ve been meaning to with the hashtag, #GashTag.
Share something funny, serious, a question, whatever you want on Twitter or Instagram and use the #GashTag. Support each other and give each other the same love you’ve given me. Because without all of your support, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this. When someone is going through something scary, and they’re in the waiting room at their hospital appointment, there is nothing better than receiving a message or a heart emoji from a friend. Or even a stranger. Coming from a gal who knows.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cat Vaginas, Natural Yogurt and Blood In Your Knickers! – Meet the ‘Bitch Hoes’ (Part 1)

You’re probably wondering what the F I’m on about from reading the title of this post. WELL. Let me explain. I have a couple of blog posts coming up, a series if you’re fancy, written and worded by some of my oldest, dearest, maddest mates. This particular group of girls I will introduce you to I have known collectively since the age of 11. But some of them are my home girls from the tender age of 5. So you know, we are tight. We joined forces in Year 7 and have been getting drunk in fields ever since. They are wonderful. The girl group to end all girl groups. These are their stories. Their vaginas. Let me introduce you to the Bitch Hoes

Bitch Hoes on Wikipedia: 

Bitch Hoes, a group on WhatsApp made up of 7 really brilliant women. The group was founded on Facebook and WhatsApp between 2015-2017, but previously members of the group have been chatting daily since 1998. The name originates from…. well there is no origin. It is what it says on the tin. The Bitch Hoes. Take that as you will. The group discussions usually focus on, believe it or not, vaginas, penises, goats and a shit ton of photos and memes. Also included in the highly important group chat are conversations on physical and mental health, women, love, heaps of advice, undying support and general adoration for one another. A popular theme currently is the ‘Friday Positivity Message’ where each member of the group shares a positive of their week. All of the members originate from a small town in Hertfordshire and are currently spreading their wings and putting out fires in all areas of life. Basically being complete bosses.

Since beginning my Gash Gossip journey, the Bitch Hoes have been a constant for support, words of encouragement and of course fanny tales. It felt only right to include them all in a couple of special posts dedicated to them and their vaginas. Funnily enough every one of us 7 members of the group have a vagina, and so every one of us should get the opportunity to chat about it, right? Right.

This post, as you can see by the title, is Part 1 where you will be introduced to the first two members of this very exclusive group. Be prepared to think about cat vaginas and natural yogurt up your flange! 

First up it’s Charlotte. The Jill to my Marion. A 24 year old digital marketing strategist living her best life in the Big Apple! With a “wonky, wobbly, perfectly imperfect little wonder” of a vagina. 

Do you have any vagina related conditions? If yes, how does this affect your day
to day life?
I used to be really susceptible to thrush after too much sex which got REALLY
frustrating. I remember once at uni a friend caught me buying Canesten in Boots and I
lied and pretended it was for a skin condition which is madness looking back on it now.
Own it! Oh and I also once tried sticking a tampon slathered in natural yogurt inside me
because I read somewhere that it was a natural remedy. Don’t try it: it’s messy, smelly
and doesn’t work.

How often do you seek medical advice regarding your lady parts?
Rarely. The first time I got thrush I spent two whole days working myself up to go to the
docs about it, and then when I finally did I spent the whole time sweating profusely. I
also refused to see a male doctor and probably would still only see a female about my
fanny to this day.

How often do you speak to friends, family, your partner about your vagina?
Omg all the time. I swear 90% of the topic of conversation with Bitch Hoes is fanny
focused. I’m very open with my boyfriend as well – if I’m sore I’ll get him to stick his head between my legs in a totally un-sexy way and check it out (poor fella). Growing up with my mum and sister meant vaginas were discussed pretty frankly at home as well.

What is one thing you would like to see change about the way women talk about
their vaginas?
I would love us to lose the stigma and shame attached to our vaginas. So many women
(myself included) find it uncomfortable to publicly discuss them, but they are SO
powerful and important. They are self-cleansing, orgasm-inducing, keys to new life! We
should be screaming from the rooftops about how wonderful they are!

What do you dislike about your vagina?
I don’t like how paranoid it makes me. Does it smell funny? Does it look like other vaginas? Have I shaved? Will my new underwear irritate it? Have I bled through my knickers? WHO CARES?!

What do you love about your vagina?
I love that she is my gateway to intimacy with my boyfriend (and myself!). I love that she
is smart enough to send me signals when things aren’t quite right down there, and that
one day (hopefully) she is literally going to be able to pass new life into the world.

A big warm Gash Gossip welcome to Lauren too! Our 25 year old veterinary nurse, diagnosing all our pets problems on the reg. via WhatsApp! 

Lauren, hi! 

Hi! I’m a 25-year-old single pringle still living with my rents and spend most of my life
working – just like most 20-somethings I know. My vagina knowledge is minimal – I know
more (too much) about dog and cat vaginas than I do my own. (n.b I’m a veterinary
nurse and a general understanding of animal vaginas and penises is occasionally
required for certain parts of my job. Definitely not some weirdo who looks up animal
genitalia for fun…)

What does your vagina get up to at the moment?
It leads a pretty boring life, but it’s functional, does what it’s told and rarely has any
issues. I don’t have any vagina related conditions at present – apart from loneliness and sexual neglect. 

Have you had any recent health related issues concerning your lady parts? 
No, thankfully. But I really really need to book my smear test!

How often do you speak to friends, family, your partner about your vagina?
It’s a pretty taboo subject in my household – mainly because I live with my rents and it
very rarely comes up in dinner conversation, but it’s up and coming with my Bitch Hoes.

What do you dislike about your vagina?
It’s a pretty ugly organ and shaving/waxing rash is literally the most annoying thing in the world!

What would you like to see more of on the Gash Gossip blog?
Maybe stuff regarding contraception? I feel like there are so many choices and lots of nasty side effects that need to be discussed. 

Thank you Charlotte and Lauren for sharing a little bit about your minge and for being open, honest and unfiltered. That’s what the gossip is all about! 

What I love the most about these girls is that there was a time when NONE of us would discuss these sorts of intimate topics with each other. Now, it is all we talk about. And so it should be. These women are just as much a part of my mission to make talking about our fannies normal. Especially when 50% of the time, nothing about a fanny is normal. They do stuff on their own accord and having friends at the other end of WhatsApp is literally a god send on the days when the minge is misbehaving.

Part 2 coming soon! 

 

Thank you so much for coming back. Working on this wee blog brings me SO much joy I cannot tell you. It brings a bit of light to my week when there is too much bloody dark. I hope it is helping some of you with your fanny troubles or it is making you book your smear test (Lauren! I’m looking at you!) Reading about other vaginas, in a non-scary/you’re going to die way, really helped me this year. And even if you’re not experiencing anything at the moment, I hope you’re laughing and nodding along with the rest of us. 

Throwing loads of girl power at you today. Go and give your best mates a big squeeze!

Soph x

07/11/2018

 

 

“The Delivery Mechanism For Three Beautiful Children” – Anonymous

Gash Gossip was always intended to reach every woman out there. Every vagina out there. No matter the size, age, haired, hairless or history. And to be honest, it was a chance to broaden my own knowledge of my vagina and what might happen to it in the future. I am becoming increasingly aware that the answer to that is, quite an effing lot

Now, I have always been told that I think too much about the future. Or the past. And I should just think about the now. “Live in the now. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Forget yesterday.”

But excuse me for wanting to be prepared! Preparation never hurt anybody, in fact, it will probably save many a fanny to think about the things it might have coming. Which is why I am so pleased our next Gossip Queen got in contact with me. Prepare for some insight into a vagina that has so far given birth to 3 children, had a diagnosis of endometrial cancer, a full hysterectomy and plenty of experience about what we should be using on our bits, and what we really shouldn’t. E.g Using E45 cream down there! Something I’ve been using after shaving ever since my first pube with no awareness of the effects it could be having on my young, blooming vag. 

So without further ado, let me introduce you to our next wonder woman.

Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself and your vagina, you know the drill.

I’m 66, happily married for 40 years, with three grown up children and two
gorgeous granddaughters. I have a job working for a company making and selling
organic intimacy products.

All was fine until I had my first baby with a nasty episiotomy (a surgical cut made at the opening of the vagina during childbirth, to aid a difficult delivery and prevent rupture of tissues). I breastfed for nearly a year, which caused vaginal dryness and therefore a lube was needed. KY jelly was all there was and little did I know that it caused irritation which doctors thought was thrush. 25 years later after misdiagnosis and biopsies, I finally worked out that it was due to using chemically based lubricants rather than to a thrush infection. Standard sanitary products that are bleached with chlorine also caused problems but I didn’t know this at the time. There are organic cotton products now such as Natracare and Organyc. I was finally able to sort the problem using YES organic lubricants and after the menopause, I no longer needed tampons or pads.

The aforementioned problems which affected the vagina and the vulva are now
sorted due to using YES, but an endometrial cancer diagnosis and total
laparoscopic hysterectomy which removes the ovaries, womb, fallopian tubes and
cervix led to a shortened vagina which makes sex painful. Add to that, post
menopausal vaginal dryness and recurrent UTIs and you don’t have a great recipe
for blissful sex in the twilight years when it should be good with no kids and
approaching retirement! Penetrative sex is just about possible with gallons of
organic lube for both of us! Topical oestrogen and an oestrogen patch help too. Some days are better than others but the sad thing is the loss of spontaneous relaxed and enjoyable love-making. Regular use of a vaginal moisturiser is good for general activity such as walking, cycling and tennis.

How often do you speak to friends, family, your partner about your vagina?

My poor partner is very supportive and also knowledgeable about the issues. My
kids don’t know too much about the detail but I talk to my close friends and try to
encourage them to share any issues because I know how to support and
guide them towards the help they may need from the NHS.

I would like women to talk openly with friends, family, and health professionals
without being embarrassed. Also important, is not just the ability to talk about it
but to know what is normal for you.

What do you dislike about your vagina?

I don’t really dislike anything about it – it is just another part of my body that like
any other has its own problems that are part external (products that irritate) and
partly due to disease.

What do you love about your vagina?

It was the delivery mechanism for three beautiful children.

What would you like to see more of on the Gash Gossip blog?

  • Spreading the word about the best way to maintain a healthy vagina and vulva
    with some real facts and evidence based information warning about products that
    can cause thrush, BV and UTIs due to the wrong PH balance. Campaigning
    for all women to have their regular smear tests and be aware of the signs and
    symptoms of gynaecological cancers.
  • Explaining the difference between a lubricant and a moisturiser.
  • Info on the reasons for vaginal dryness would also be good, as they include:
    the contraceptive pill, diabetes, breast feeding, anxiety and stress, anti-depressants, cancer treatment, Sjögren’s Syndrome, as well as the menopause due
    to the lack of oestrogen.

And if you think you might be able to help shed some light on some of the last pointers, please don’t hesitate to get in contact. I’d love to hear from you. Every minge matters. Period. 

If you are interested in the YES products mentioned in this post, visit the website for more information and all of your intimate, natural, organic product needs! https://www.yesyesyes.org/ 

 

Phwoar, I know, a lot of information hey? 66 years of vagina experience coming at you on this Monday afternoon. Thank you to my wonderful lady for sharing and baring all.

I’ve been struggling a bit to focus on GG. BUT have no fear, it is still brewing like a good Yorkshire Tea. I’ve been listening to podcasts, reading, engaging with other organisations on a similar mission for fannies and I guess just taking my time to gather everything I need to make sure the gossiping continues. Hopefully you’re not bored yet! And as soon as I get internet in my new home I hope to be branching out, spreading the word (and legs) and one day I can sit with Holly and Phil, on their sofa, at 10:30am talking about VAGINAS. That’s the dream anyway.

Lots of pussy positivity to see you through the week, 

Soph x

12/10/2018 

“Even If My Vagina Is Faced With Adversity… She Has Given Me Some Damn Good Times.” – Meet Gemma

I know, can you believe it? I’m like that annoying rash that just won’t go away! I’m sat here uploading another post in the space of a week. I call it: my vagina calling. That’s right. I’ve realised that if there is one thing I can control in my life, it is this little safe haven of brilliant fanny chat. A place where I can come and ironically relax. An excuse to open a packet of biscuits and accidentally inhale the lot. An excuse to stay in my room all day listening to 90’s classics and a good distraction to the swollen lymph-node in my neck that is causing me mahoooosive anxiety.

If only Gash Gossip was a full time job. I wish that every day I could be that stylish, hot to trot ‘blogger’ flitting between trendy coffee shops, sipping on flat white’s, wearing fake glasses that make me look like I know what I’m doing. Out on the streets of London, talking to women of all ages, going into schools, communities, health groups, raising awareness, finally changing the sexual education young women and men receive, walking into the house of commons in just my pants! But alas, I am an out of work actor, manager, box office assistant, nanny and I’m moving house – my time is a bit stretched at the moment. So before I am able to traipse around looking for the best writing spot, in the best cafe and meet with the best ladies to talk about their lady parts, striving to make a difference, I’ve decided to go digital in true millennial style. The power of the almighty internet! Not only can you search your symptoms on Google, you can send emails too. 

I recently created a fancy questionnaire and sent it out to some wonderful women to complete. The hope was that from these I could then create short blog posts about their vagina problems, dilemmas, wants, needs, stories, sex lives etc. And the ladies did not disappoint! We finally have some other stories to tell and share with you all. On that note, I will stop rambling on and let someone else do the talking. 

Meet Gemma.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am now finding it really hard not to just talk about myself in relation to my vagina. I’m
Gemma, I’m 26 (same age as my vagina), I love to travel (always with my vagina), and I
am a charity worker (so many potential jokes not enough time.) Much of my happiness
revolves around cats, books, plants, snacks, rearranging furniture, and licking bowls.
(There is real potential there for people to hear that as “licking balls”… or to read it as
“licking bowels”… Ah I do amuse myself.)

Now is the part you can talk about yourself in relation to your vag! 

My vagina enjoys long walks on the beach, candlelit dinners, open fires, Ryan Gosling
(especially in Blade Runner 2049), and all activities involving coconut oil. Although she
has many good qualities, she is not always a particularly great hostess and will
sometimes outright refuse entry to visitors such as tampons, moon cups, medical
instruments and penises. This is not ideal.

I have endometriosis which is pain in the arse. And vagina. And stomach. I had a
laparoscopy at the start of 2015 and am currently on the waiting list for another one so
the endometrial-like tissue which is growing in all the wrong places can be burned away
with a laser. Fun.

I [also] have a retroverted uterus (which might be contributing towards sexual pain), a cervical ectropion (which might be contributing towards sexual pain), and endometriosis (which most definitely is contributing towards sexual pain plus impacts on what I’m putting in my stomach as well as in my vagina). The biggest impact on a day to day basis is dietary: I have already cut out alcohol and dairy and need to come to terms with the fact that gluten and refined sugar need to go, too. I can’t eat very much at once without being in pain, and I have to stick to fairly strict intermittent fasting to be my best most comfortable self (and to fit in my jeans without a crazy painful bloated tummy.)

Sexually speaking there is an everyday impact too, but not necessarily a negative one.
Sex is rarely pain free, so everyday fierce cuddling and shared showers with my man are
just a couple of ways we make sure we get our intimacy fix in a non-sexual way, in case
sex isn’t an option that day/week/month. I think it has actually made us a better, stronger
team.

Also… big also… the impact that the combination of pain, potential pain, sexual stress,
possible infertility and even just the frequent bloating have on my ability to properly
human is huge. I suffer from anxiety when the endometriosis flares up, which in some
ways can be even more painful than the physical symptoms. Luckily, I’ve had time to
learn how to handle my endometriosis and bad days are less and less frequent, but even
so, I normally have to take at least one or two days off work a month because of the
combination of pain and anxiety. A standard 9-5 office job isn’t really an option for me.

How often do you seek medical advice for your lady parts?

Less frequently since being properly diagnosed with endometriosis, but the process of
diagnosis was so long winded that I now consider myself pals with my doctor and always
ask her how she is before she asks me. This is equal parts heart-warming and heart-
breaking.

What would you like to see change about the way women talk about their vaginas?

I think eventually it would be bloody great if we could all be as in love with our vaginas
as men are with their penises, and have the way we talk about them reflect this positive,
confident outlook.

What do you dislike about your vagina?

Nothing. I think vaginas are pretty great little portals for multiple orgasms not to mention
new freaking humans(!) and even if my vagina is faced with adversity in the form of various medical problems, she has given me some damn good times.

Any final fanny thoughts?

I think it’s SO important that we talk about all the problems around women’s health and remove any stigma around it, but I also think there is a danger of getting sucked into this negative space of thinking “Fuck I wish I were a man”. And men don’t get to grow humans! Men don’t get a clitoris (the only body part designed JUST for pleasure), they don’t get half as many nerve endings as we do, and they don’t get multiple orgasms! Even periods can be thought of as something that connects us to nature – I think latest scientific studies suggest that menstrual cycles don’t actually link to the lunar cycle, but I still think it’s kinda magical that they are almost the same length because it means you can use the phases of the moon to know where you are in your cycle! We get to feel like earth goddesses with a
connection to the universe. We should be feeling sorry for the men!

And on that note, in the words of Arnie, I’ll be back.

Soph x

 

 

There Is A Light At The End of My Tunnel.

Yes ladies, and lads if you’ve managed to stick around, there is a light at the end of my fanny tunnel. Finally people of Gash Gossip, I have some good news to share. Some rather unexpected, good if not slightly ironic news. In short, my pesky CIN 2 cells which were removed a month ago came back from their most recent biopsy as a CIN 1… which technically means I didn’t need to have them removed in the first place. Isn’t in ironic? Don’t you think! I was in the 70%. The 70% of women whose cells will change naturally back to “normal” or “nearly normal”. GO VAGINA!  

To recap:

CIN 1 – it’s unlikely the cells will become cancerous and they may go away on their own; no treatment is needed and you’ll be invited for a cervical screening test in 12 months to check they’ve gone.

CIN 2 – there’s a moderate chance the cells will become cancerous and treatment to remove them is usually recommended.

My little naughty cells must have already changed from a 2 to a 1 whilst I was waiting to have my Loop Excision Treatment so that by the time they were removed during the treatment they didn’t even need to be….. HA HA HA OH LIFE YOU ARE A FUNNY THING! 

It may have been the month from the fire-y depths of hell – copious amounts of blood, numerous mental breakdowns, I’m sure my boyfriend wanted to dump me, some small bouts of depression and I didn’t even need the f****** treatment anyway. BUT! Life is good. I’m lucky and I am so grateful for a piece of good news, at last. It is also helping aid the mind. For the past 6 months I have been thinking my body is failing me, I’m going to die, whereas now I am thinking, my body is a miracle healer! Go you cervix! You do your thaaang you nasty lady! 

The formal letter from the hospital described how I had 12 millimetres worth of cell-age removed, the biopsy showed they were in the CIN 1 category and all other margins were clear, meaning there were no other suspicious cells lurking about. I did some booty shakin’ in my room. And even though I’m slightly peeved I had the treatment done *side eye*, I’ve got to remember that at the time, I needed it and no one could have known for sure that this would be the outcome. Even though I feel like my brain took a bit of a beating this month, the only thing that did keep me going was knowing that I had done right by my body. It was just the other 86% of my brain that went on a short holiday to crazy town. 

However, today, writing this, I feel a lot less crazy. The least cray-cray I have done since this whole debacle started back in October 2017, nearly a year ago… (MAD!) I’ll always bang on about it, but it just shows persistence is key. You know your body, you have the power to get what you want and what your body part in question needs. Even if it takes 10 months. It was so worth it to open that letter and breathe. Breathe properly for the first time in a long time. And also, now I don’t have to completely hate on my fanny. I think we’ll always have a love/hate relationship but now I can get back to loving it rather than crying about it. Crying gets so boring.

I know that a lot of the crying has been my own general anxiety and health anxiety, but I think perhaps we under estimate how our mental health changes in keeping with our physical health. I did a wee bit of reading of other women’s experience with this procedure and a lot of them described feeling depressed, helpless and anxious, some of them were even given anti-depressants as result. It’s true. I fell out of love with myself and my body. I lost my confidence, a sense of myself, I couldn’t be intimate, I felt ugly, bloody, bloated, unworthy, you know, blah blah blah. But now I feel like I can get back to being a bit more me. I can see the light! And I’m hoping all women who are going through this or something similar are able to also find their light at the end of the tunnel. 

The other good thing about this result is that rather than going back for another camera up my chuff and biopsy, I shall be attending my smear and HPV test like everyone else in 6 months time just to double check on everything, so need for another hospital trip. Keeping my fingers, toes and everything else crossed that everything comes back the same or completely “normal”, but if it doesn’t, I know what to expect and I’ll be ready for battle, a little older, wiser and stronger (cringe-y but true.)

Hoping all the rest of you who may be facing your own fanny fights are able to keep in good spirits and maintain some positivity. If you’re not, I feel you babe. Be kind to yourself. Take your time. Eat nice food. Listen to funny podcasts. Get all the cuddles you can. You’re going to be okay. Xxx. 

And now to end this small chapter, to which I’m sure many more will follow, a small letter to my vagina as a conclusion to the last few months.

Dear Vagina, 

Firstly, kudos to you babe. You quite literally have been through the ringer. You’ve had several different people poke, prod, examine and insert foreign objects in to you without putting up a fight. You’ve seen swabs, vegetable peelers, cameras, lights, many a speculum and enough granny pants to sink a battle ship. Yet you remained fairly relaxed and well behaved throughout it all. You also looked as glamorous as you could for all of your appointments and meetings, even when things got tough. 

You have been the stronger one out of the both of us, taking your sweet, sweet time to heal but now I understand why. You were making sure that I would be okay. I won’t forget the mornings where I would stare down into the toilet and think I may be having a major internal bleed or the cramps deep in my pelvis that made me want to vomit everywhere. But I know this was your way of mending and so I forgive you. And most importantly, I thank you. 

I am forever grateful that you told me there was a problem and you kept letting me know. You were persistent. The driving force. The reason why I started this blog in the first place. And now look, your hard work has paid off and we are out of the woods for a little while. 

Lastly, I now wish you the best in your future endeavours. You deserve to be treated, pampered, sexed up and loved. I hope that if we ever face anything else together we will be able to fight it with dignity, humour and lots of extra comfy, slightly scented, sanitary pads. 

Forever yours (we are stuck together unfortunately for you),

Sophie

Now let’s get serious about women’s health.

https://www.stylist.co.uk/long-reads/health-women-doctor-nurse-nhs-cancer-diagnosis-breast-cervical-cancer-smear-test-advice/223525

Ain’t No Hole In My Cervix Gonna Stop Me!

HELLO!

Thanks for coming back. It feels like years since I sat down and wrote a post. Oh god I feel rusty crusty! I don’t get to sit down and type here nearly as much as I would like to. It’s been a roller-coaster couple of weeks and it is only just settling down. I did 10 days straight at my ‘everyday-boring-I-would-rather-be-watching-Greys-Anatomy-or-doing-anything-else-for-that-matter-job’ and then went straight back home to have a vegetable peeler inserted up my chuff (yup!) I then spent 5 days getting my chuff and life back to normal and actually watching Greys Anatomy, which was secretly lovely. AND THEN, I spilt a glass of water on my laptop and it died. SO what I’m trying to say is, please bare with me if it takes me a while to get back into the swing of things or if what I write is all just mind numbingly boring. Let me dust away the cobwebs, take a deep breath, have a sip of my tea…. okay, I’m ready.

Firstly, I must address the fact you probably thought this post was going to be dedicated to someone else’s poor, long suffering vagina. That is what I promised at the end of the last post. SHUT UP ABOUT YOUR OWN FANNY SOPHIE IT IS GETTING A BIT ANNOYING! I know, I’m so sorry. Those 10 days at my everyday job prevented me from having any life, sense of humour or simple brain activity. And since then if I haven’t been serving people stale popcorn, I’ve been going on gentle walks, recovering and eating a lot of fish and chips to bring back that sense of humour. I haven’t been able to pull myself together and schedule to meet with a lovely lady to talk about her ovaries yet. I promise it will be coming soon, just not as soon as I would have liked. But conveniently I have another tale to tell about my own catastrophic cervix (as always). Without further ado, buckle in and prepare for the ride of your life as I take you on a detailed, practically virtual reality experience of my cervix. My cervix that now has a teeny tiny hole in it. YAY.

QUICK RECAP! I opted for the CIN 2 abnormal cells to be removed. Biopsy results showed that I had CIN 2 (moderate abnormal cells) on the entrance of my cervix. I was given the choice to monitor them to see if they return to normal or have them removed. I opted for the latter. Ah, Luton and Dunstable Gynae Clinic, my old friend. I think I’ve marched in and out of your doors enough times to be given my own key. I know the drill. I know the exact time the shutters will open (8:38am usually), I know the floor number, (3) and I know which nurse will be standing waiting for me (the short Irish woman with blue eyeliner). What was different about this time however was that I genuinely had my biggest boots on. The biggest I’ve ever tried on. I was feeling brave, ready and I had done NO crying in the build it up. It was a bloody miracle. I also was going to enter the procedure without my Mum (BFF/vagina buddy/all round babe). No hand holding, no company, just me. 

I shuffled alone into the room with the big, blue, scary chair in the middle, took off my shorts and flip flops (it was the height of the heatwave. Everything was moist. MOIST) and put on that gown that feels as if you are wrapping yourself in sand paper. Thought about taking a selfie, then decided against it. I slid into the seat, my bare bum hanging out of the hole in the bottom and lay back as the chair started to ascend heavenward along with my heart rate. It was time for the treatment. Cue internal screaming. 

Loop Excision Treatment

“The most common treatment is large loop excision of the transformation zone (LLETZ).

Involves removing the abnormal cells using a thin wire loop that’s heated with an electric current. Local anaesthetic is injected into your cervix to numb it during the treatment. 

LLETZ is also called loop diathermy, loop cone, loop biopsy or loop excision.”

I actually got a bit emosh writing down that definition as it required me looking back at my notes and the dreaded internet to make sure I got all the medical facts correct. DO NOT DO IT! I KNOW I KNOW, BAD SOPHIE! Never look at the internet (I’ll never learn). On the internet the words CERVICAL CANCER just scream at me every time I click on a new link. Makes me want to cry. Sometimes when I’m writing or talking about this all, I only see the funny and positive side which is great I suppose. Then on reflection I think about how frightening it actually is/could be. About how the treatment I’ve had doesn’t mean the cells will never grow back. About how I might still have the HPV virus which means more biopsies, colposcopies and treatments. About how developing cervical cancer is still an option. URGH! It sucks when you know something isn’t 100% right. It’s just somewhere in your own body being a nuisance and it makes me sad. 

But, we don’t wallow in self pity over here on Gash Gossip for too long. We put on our gnarly big boots and forget the ifs, buts and maybes. Let’s lighten the mood instead, here is my own definition of the treatment and if I may say, a better one. 

Vegetable Peeler Up Your Chuff Treatment 

“Basically, getting rid of those cells that you just don’t need up there. They might cause havoc, they might not, but tell them to pack their bags anyway because a man in white is coming to scoop them out. 

Cue the vegetable peeler object that vibrates. Although this vibrating object isn’t remotely pleasurable. It looks like something Sylvanian’s would peel their carrots with. Up it goes, cuts out a tiny whole in your cervix where the unwanted cells are, and although you’ve had a vaginal speculum up there for 20 minutes keeping your cervix firmly open, you cannot feel a thing! Bob’s your uncle, it’s all done.”

That’s a bit better. 

The treatment itself is very straightforward, I didn’t need to panic and neither do you gals if you find yourself having one, promise. The longest part of the whole procedure is getting set up. Lights, camera, action, quite literally. I was lying back in the chair, my feet in the stirrups, doctor between my legs with a huge f*** off microscope for 25 minutes before anything had even started. Even with my legs clamped open, I was in quite a pleasant mood, chatting away to my nurse/new mate who had to spend 10 minutes scrubbing moisturiser off my legs. The pad that they put on your thigh to keep you ‘grounded’ whilst the electrical current is zinging through your fanny wouldn’t stick! Warning: do not put moisturiser on before having this treatment. Especially E45. You may think like me that your skin will smell peachy, look lovely in the most unflattering circumstances and make the situation more pleasant for the doctor, but don’t do it. They nearly had to call off my procedure because I’d laid it on Love Island, Dr Alex, Factor 50 thick and the pads wouldn’t stay put.

Once my legs were squeaky clean, the pad was in place and the doctor had adjusted and re-adjusted his camera angle and the light, the sound of the electric peeler began… in it went for 10 seconds and out it came again. MAGIC! All done. That’s it. See you in 6 months. Sorry, what?! After a mini wobble, a shot of orange juice and 3 biscuits I was in the car home already. That was that, or so I thought.

I’m not going to lie to you, the after effects of the procedure are kind of worse than the procedure itself. I started getting stabbing cramps in the car home and my stomach felt like it was made of cling film, delicate but tight. Unfortunately, the side effects didn’t stop there. Here is what I experienced over the next week or so/I’m still experiencing writing this post! Most of it was all on the leaflet I got handed after the procedure and some of it I’ve been finding out for myself. 

NHS leaflet says: 

  • Mild pain, similar to period pain – this should pass in a few hours and can be relieved with paracetamol or ibuprofen
  • Light vaginal bleeding and brown, watery vaginal discharge – this may last up to four weeks
  • No tampons, sex, exercising, swimming, heavy lifting whilst you are still bleeding  (4 weeks)
  • Risk of an infection – this can cause heavy or persistent bleeding, smelly vaginal discharge and persistent tummy pain
  • A slightly increased risk of premature birth (before the 37th week of pregnancy) in future pregnancies – this is more likely if you need repeated treatments or a lot of tissue needs to be removed  

Of course the long term effects of not having the treatment outweigh these short term effects and risks massively. I would rather have stomach cramps. HOWEVER. I feel that if we have a fanny and if that fanny is causing trouble, constantly being poked, prodded and peered at, we can moan just a tiny bit and talk about the irritating symptoms after procedures! 

Sophie says:

  • Constant period pain for 5 days, no break. A little gremlin was jumping up and down on my womb day and night. It twinged when I moved as if someone had taken a scalpel to my insides funnily enough.
  • I did a lot of lying flat. A lot. I felt zapped of any energy, getting up off the sofa was too much effort and it didn’t help that I felt a bit battered and bruised on my insides. 
  • I don’t know about you guys but I can do nothing for a maximum of 5 days and then I’m just restless, bored and want to get moving. For about a week I was still feeling the effects of the treatment, my energy was low and my whole body was having to re-calibrate what was going on. I was constipated, I couldn’t walk very far, I felt highly emotional, light headed and spaced out. It’s pretty crazy that even though this procedure was focusing very specifically on one part of my body, the rest of my organs and bodily functions had a bit of a freak out and a ‘WHAT DID YOU DO TO OUR FRIEND THE CERVIX moment’.
  • This is the grossest bit FYI. I essentially had an open wound up my vajayjay, like any wound, it scabbed over… but this scab falls out. Yep. 1 week later and out it came (which is completely normal but highly disturbing.) Flakes of blood disturbing. This is when I first started experiencing any bleeding. I think I was quite lucky to not have any straight after the procedure but now we’re on week 2, and it’s like “HEY! Didn’t escape me that easily and I’m going to be extra runny and unnecessary.”
  • Soooooooo many panty-liners, pads, tissues and period pants. I can’t get up from sitting down without a little rush. Hopefully this will stop by next week because there’s nothing worse than feeling like you are constantly dribbling. 3 words, loosey-goosey baby! 
  • It is minor surgery, local anaesthetic and so I could have gone back to work the next day which I’m sure a lot of women do (super women). BUT even a couple of days after the procedure I would wake up feeling sluggish and not myself. The last place I wanted to be was work. It is difficult to get the time off if you’re on a 0 hours contract and sick pay doesn’t exist. Also hard for people to take you seriously unless you divulge all the details and say you have a gaping hole on the entrance to your cervix (which is a slight exaggeration). Makes me wonder how women with conditions like endometriosis survive every day life. You girls are my heroes. Period pain is a thing. Endometriosis is a thing. Sore cervix’s and vagina’s are a THING. HAVING CELLS REMOVED IS A THING. Listen to the vagina’s that are saying “No, I cannot come into work today. I’m a mess” and give them the time off they need please and thank you. 

So in short, I now have a tiny hole in my cervix that is taking a while to heal but apart from that.. I feel pretty good. I’m nervous about when I’ll next hear from the clinic but hopefully I’ve managed to jump this little hurdle with no complications, now I just wait for the next one in 6 months. It’s a long race. Mentally and hormonal-ly I’ve been a bit cray-cray. I stopped my period from coming this month on advice from the doctor, more pain and bleeding wouldn’t have helped me recover. But as a result, I’m cray-cray. I’ve also got cabin fever because I can’t do activities yet. I want to go swimming in Hampstead Heath ponds! I want to do some yoga or just any exercise (the fish and chips are piling up already). And I want some sex!! Urgh. Only 2 more weeks to go. 

Anyway, now that I have my mojo back, I hope I’ll be bringing you some more goss very soon. And lots of different types of goss. I want to have a good natter about all sorts. Let’s talk period poverty! Let’s talk moon-cups! Let’s talk vaginal herpes! It’s all relevant. It all matters. Thank you for all your continued messages of love and support. It is the loveliest thing and brightens up my day every time I receive them. Some days I don’t feel brave. Some days I moan, cry and struggle to be an adult about it. Along with all the other crap. But your little messages or even just heart emoji’s give me the boost that I need to snap out of it. I’m doing this not only for my vagina, but for all vaginas. If I can help, offer support and advice, or just tell you what the hell goes on with my genitalia to help your genitalia, well that makes all my trouble worth while. 

Much love and so many heart emoji’s,

Soph x