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"Vagina" is not a bad word.

It's a real medical term, so why is it censored?


Vag, vajayjay, kitty, hoo-ha, box. These are just a few of the alternative ways society refers to the vagina. When I am talking about my arm or leg, I don't call them "stick" or "crutch." So why are people often embarrassed, or even worse not allowed, to use the word vagina?

Since I am obviously one of those people who use the word vagina on a regular basis (um, like every minute), it never dawned on me that vagina might be considered a bad word. Then I tried using it in paid advertising on social media for an FDA-cleared lubricant created by a physician (yes, me). As a doctor whose job is to make the vagina the best it can be, I assumed an advertisement for lubricants that I helped create specifically to improve women's sexual function on social media would go viral. Instead, the ads were repeatedly rejected. At first our team thought maybe the photos on our website were too racy or we forgot to make our target audience adults only, but that wasn't it at all. Since it's impossible to actually talk to anyone who on social media advertising side, we finally figured out it was the word vagina (a medical term) preventing us from advertising.

Not being able to use an actual medical term for a woman's body part sends a message that it's shameful and propagates the taboo surrounding sexuality and anything associated with the vagina. Why is a body part that is integral in sexuality and reproduction stigmatized? I was a guest on a talk show's medical segment and the topic was incontinence, but I wasn't allowed to say the word vagina. It seemed so silly and unprofessional to only be able to say "down there" when referring to the vagina.

Ladies, it's time for us to change the narrative surrounding the word vagina. Until we do, we can never really normalize conversations around sexual health, masturbation, and anything else the vagina is involved with. #vaginaisnotabadword

A HUGE thank you to my colleagues Dr. Una Lee, Dr. Shreeya Popat and soon to be Dr. Rainey Horwitz for taking on the task of uncensoring "vagina".


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