Who's up for a little
ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY I?
Ok class, say it together:
I DO NOT KNOW EVERYTHING.
Don't be too proud. And if you're reading this at work, then that's on you, but I'm dead serious. Say it out loud before moving on. I DO NOT KNOW EVERYTHING. AND ADMITTING I DON'T KNOW EVERYTHING IS OKAY. (I certainly don't know everything, so don't blame me if I made a mistake. I'm totally open to comments that help me correct things!)
Yes. It's true. It is OKAY to not know everything. So just shrug it off.
Next, we were all supposed to get some kind of health education in school. Or for those districts that decided you didn't need it, they assumed that your "parental figures" were supposed to cover all the important stuff. However, we know that stuff was NOT talked about, is still not talked about, and everyone is scared to ask what wasn't talked about!
So here is your first day of Anatomy and Physiology, RGU-style. We're gonna start with vocabulary. You're gonna have to suck it up and say all of these out loud, too. Why?? BECAUSE THEY ARE THE CORRECT WORDS. Defining a body part does not make you a dirty person. But let's face it, some of you can't even say "dirty word" without giggling.
GET PAST IT. How are you going to be able to talk to your partner, doctor, kids, friends, or ANYONE about important stuff if you can't even say the words for it? If you attach a stigma to the word itself, then you are also making that part of the body stigmatized and that leads to shame, embarrassment, and absolutely leads to potential medical issues down the road if you aren't educated about those parts.
(I won't deal with it in this blog, but Parents!!! Embarrassment or shame about the words also leads to kids not being able to confidently talk to you about stuff that happens. Consider that. Keep that in mind when kids have questions.)
SO HERE WE GO! It's vocabulary time.
These are NOT WebMD definitions, but rather RGU translations of them. Feel free to practice saying these out loud. Sometimes a glass of wine helps.
Disclaimer: This is also not a commentary on gender definitions, but the use of women/man is strictly for familiarity and any questions about transitioning should be done with your doctor.
- Bladder: the thing that holds your pee. You need to empty it often. Especially after sex. Trust me.
- Vagina: the tunnel that is inside a typical woman's body and leads to the uterus. FYI, the uterus is where babies grow, not the vagina. Also, the vagina is not something you can see without some kind of medical tool. Do NOT confuse the outside genitals with the vagina. Don't do it.
- Circumcision: When the skin (foreskin) at the end of the penis (see penis definition) that covers the head you see when it's erect (glans) is cut back to allow the glans to be exposed at all times. There's too much research and information about this to go into further detail about whether this practice is good, bad, required, optional, religiously required, safe, dangerous, etc. I'm just defining what it is. Just trying to remove the mistaken concept that it's literally chopping the head off a penis.
- Clitoris: When a woman lays on her back, this is located near the top of her external genitals, usually covered with a "hood" of skin. It's actually above the vaginal opening and the urethra (a.k.a. pee-hole) yet not under the second layer of skin/lips. And yes, for someone who doesn't have one, it can be difficult to find because, well, there's a lot of skin to surf through down there, let's be honest. (Don't forget to pee after sex!) But it's worth getting to know more about. It's historically under-studied in medical fields, but we're getting there! For you and your partner. It's virtually an iceberg type of body part, with implications of... TITANIC proportions. If you get my drift. If you want a little help, feel around for the hard lump and then be gentle. It's not a light switch. It's more like a turkey wishbone, where the peak of the wishbone is the only thing you can actually feel. Work it right, and she'll be the one getting her wish. Naw I'm sayin?
- Conception: For definition purposes, when a sperm and egg join to form a single cell. You'll find a lot of discussion on whether or not this is the start of a baby, or whether the implantation into the uterus wall is the start of being pregnant. I'm not a doctor. I have no control over the religious definition of it either. I don't have a dog in that fight. I'm just trying to help you realize that there's a lot of words out there. Make sure when you talk that you're using the right ones or people might draw their own conclusions. Mkay?
- Labia: LIPS!!! Okay, not really. But if you're gonna find that next level of dirty talk, make sure you're using the right words otherwise in the heat of the moment you're gonna find things in a place you weren't expecting. Labia is the correct term for the "lip-like" folds of skin that surround that warm, soft, space between a woman's thighs that decorate the opening to her pleasure tube. (see "Vagina" above.) You know, now that I think about it, I wonder if they refer to labia as lips because they often seem to talk to you, much like a siren would speak to sailors. Things that make you go hmmmm.
- Penis: The man's tube-like, fleshy organ attached at the pelvis between the thighs that is used for peeing and for sperm release, and let's face it, for having fun and waving around like helicopter blades after you get out of the shower. It changes shape magically depending on how ready it is for sexual relations. AND...it looks as different for each person as there are differences in earlobes. (Have you googled earlobes?)
- Scrotum: a.k.a. testicles, testes, gonads, balls, ballsac, family jewels... not gonna go on. The scrotum is a male reproductive structure located under the penis with a shape of a "sac" and is divided into two compartments that holds the testicles (which are holding tanks for sperm). Just a reminder that the balls themselves are actually inside the scrotum, and it's packed with nerve endings and it's important to remember that it's THERE. Don't forget about it. We certainly don't forget about mammary glands (you know, those round squishy things on chests) so it's important to not ignore the "tackle box".
Not gonna overwhelm you in your first A&P class here at RGU, so I'll just let all that sink in.
But for those who want a little extra credit, here are some that are more rare. You might not have realized these even existed:
- Anorgasmia: not reaching an orgasm (even with adequate stimulation). Read that again. Yes, it happens, even when all the right things are done, and is not due to a lack of talent by the other person. Sometimes this is a medical issue, other times psychological. Possibly, sometimes simply a result of misled expectations? I challenge you to research this, but if you suffer from it, I challenge you further to try thinking of sex as an interesting way to pass your time and try not to judge yourself or anyone else if it doesn't result in orgasm. Sometimes, the trip is just as fun as the destination... think about that.
- Bacterial Vaginosis: this is not a yeast infection (Candida=yeast infection), but for women it's a really common infection and this is what is referred to when someone says that it smells "fishy" down there. If you want to check on it, and you're not a rhythmic gymnast, then you might have to just swipe it with your fingers and then smell your hand. Just remember, if your hands aren't clean, then swiper no swiping!! But the reason for me sharing this bit of info is so we can try to get rid of the fish vs. lady-part association, and realize that there are a whole variety of smells and fauna (???) that make up that fun "land between the limbs".
- Bartholin's glands: small glands on either side of the vagina that help to produce mucus. Another reason to make sure you work hard at keeping clean. There is a lot of stuff down there where bacteria can get trapped and if you want a partner that is happy to be with you, then you might want to be considerate about where you put your dirty hands. (a.k.a. Skein's glands) These glands are believed to secrete a substance to lubricate the urethra opening. This substance is also believed to act as an antimicrobial, but if blocked can cause hella issues.
- Cowper's glands: The Cowper's glands are only found in the male body and play an important role in the protection of sperm during ejaculation. This is where that fluid comes from when a guy gets excited (precum). It helps neutralize stuff to pave the way for the sperm that are about to come through. (a.k.a. bulbourethral glands) It's thought that these are homologues (similar to) to the Bartholin glands in women. It's a very neglected area of health practice but can cause similar issues as the Bartholin gland if obstructed or infected.
I can't stress enough, PEE AFTER SEX!!!
OKAY LOVELY STUDENTS: I think this is enough for A&P I, so we'll save more for another lesson. If you made it this far, I truly mean it when I say I AM PROUD OF YOU. So many people don't know basic health issues, or if they learned them in school they sure as heck were too distracted to remember any of it. This is important stuff, and your partner will be super impressed and feel cared for if you learn about their body. I know I would. (and I do. Let's just say I'm lucky.)
Check out the Sex Glossary on WebMD and see if there is anything there you find interesting. Post a new-to-you word in the comments below and explain why you found it interesting. I'm not expecting everyone to walk around talking like they're in an episode of Grey's Anatomy, but a little education goes a long way in feeling more comfortable about speaking openly.