The Childbearing Year is an excellent resource for any pregnant women, whether she has never considered herbal remedies before, dabbles in them occasionally, or is a full-fledged herbal practitioner, but it is very friendly to the newcomer to herbal medicine.
The Vulva, Part One
by Susun Weed
read part two
We are the first guardians of the inner treasures. We hold the keys to your creative power. Proudly we show ourselves, fiercely we protect.
We look delicate, flowing and floating, waving and weaving — and so beautiful in our gowns of mauve and pink, pearl and coral. Like the blush of dawn, we blush. Like the glow of health, we glow. Like the dusky sky of evening, we are dusky. We are satiny. We are silken. We are velvety. We are smooth and strong. We are taffeta. We are suede. We are closely woven and tough. We are the ones who open and close the outer gates. We are the muses who sing to those who journey within.
We dance protection. We sparkle with joy. You call us lips, and like your lips, we have our moods. We mirror the health of what we enclose. When you feel abraded by life, we hurt. When you spread us without tender care, we cry. When you refuse to refuse on your own that which harms you, we scream in agony.
We will not be neglected. We will pin up our dresses and flash our red petticoats. We will scream. We will rage. We will burn with an unquenchable fire. We will wake you in the night. We will be heard. We will be respected. We will always, and ever, be here to remind you of your own worth, your own power, your own beauty.
The vulva, Latin for “covering,” includes all the external female parts, including the mons veneris (Mound of Venus), the clitoris, and the lips that surround the vagina. However, most women, and this article, understand the vulva to be only the lips (singular: labium, plural: labia).
There are two sets of vulval lips: the thicker outer labia major, and the thinner inner labia minor. The size and shape of the labial sets varies enormously from one woman to the next. Like snowflakes, each labium and each pair of labia are unique.
The vulva, like the lips of the mouth, is colorful, plump and moist when healthy. Betty Dodson’s and Tee Corrine’s pioneering art in Self-Loving and The Cunt Coloring Book provide beautiful drawings of vulva if you wish to see some (besides your own).
Herpes, warts, alkaline vaginal discharges, infections, parasites, and irritations of various sorts can disturb the vulva, causing itching, burning, and pain. Women may also have chronic pain in their vulva without the presence of any infection or skin disease.
Herpes, genital warts, alkaline vaginal discharges, yeast infections, parasites, and irritations can disfigure the vulva, leaving her lumpy, bumpy, itchy, burning and upset. Yogurt and sitz baths of soothing herbs are general remedies for easing vulvar problems.
Although rare, cancer of the vulva does occur. It kills about 800 women a year in the USA, out of the 3,200 new cases diagnosed.
The best ways to prevent all cancers are:
• eat miso and tamari daily,
• consume red clover infusion and burdock root regularly,
• eat four or more servings of cabbage-family plants a week,
• enjoy lavish amounts of onions and garlic,
• don’t smoke.
If you get lice in your pubic hair, your vulva will itch and get red. This parasite travels easily from one warm body to another; no sex is required for transmission.
Getting rid of lice does not require chemicals. They can be suffocated with generous applications of any oil, though thick oils like castor oil or coconut oil work best. Some herbalists opt to add a drop or two of essential oil (any kind will do) to the smothering oil in the hopes that it will poison the lice.
Do not sleep with anyone while you are dealing with crabs. Instead, spend your time at the laundry; wash all your underwear, pants, and sheets with a little bleach. If possible, dry them in the sun to completely eradicate all lice eggs. Then vacuum your bedroom well. Lice can’t live long away from you, so you don’t have to change your sheets every night.
This parasite is also known as the seven-year itch. The mite usually begins in the webbing between the fingers and the toes and spreads up the limbs until it burrows into the nice warm folds of the armpits and the groin. The itch is particularly intense at night, and you may awaken having injured yourself scratching.
• The Vulvodynia Survival Guide, Dr. Howard Glazer, Harbringer Press, 2002
• The University of Michigan Center for Vulvar Diseases
• The National Vulvodynia Association offers regional networks of women, two newsletters, conferences, a content-rich website (www.nva.org), and a CD-ROM for doctors covering diagnosis and treatment of chronic vulvar pain disorders.
Copyright 2008 © Susun Weed
read part two