Guest post by Jillian Currie
Back in 2010, no one gave me the heads up that, as soon as I was old and ready enough to start having sex, I would be bombarded by one gynaecological issue after another. Nor did I get any heads up of the laborious and heartbreaking journey that lay ahead of me. Or, above all, that a decade later I would still be being slapped in the face by problems that apparently had no answers.
It is strange to me that the vagina – a body part shared by about half of the world – is so taboo that even saying the word out loud is received with disapproving looks or embarrassed giggles. How have we got to a stage where a part of our bodies is so neglected that even medical professionals know next to nothing about it? Why do our health concerns and real life pain get ignored or overlooked as nothing but psychological? And why is no one talking about it? All of these questions were exactly the reasons that led me to sit down one day and birth my website and Instagram, ‘Queens of Eve’.
I had just found a solution to one of my two serious gynaecological issues (which I think could now be returning for a third time), and wanted nothing more but to share my journey and story with the world, in the hopes of helping somebody else. For four years I had been experiencing extremely heavy vaginal discharge that left me feeling like an unattractive and disgusting mess, and it should not have taken two GPs, five gynaecologists, one dermatologist and two surgeries to realise that my issue was only cervical ectropions.
Alongside this, it has been six years and counting of experiencing sex that was painful to the point of ripping and tearing my skin open, in a manner similar to post-birth trauma. It has reached a point where I physically can’t have sex, because it results in a deep bleeding wound that then leaves me unable to walk and sit down properly for a good week afterwards (and not for the right reasons). If I dare attempt to have sex, I have to drown my vulva in steroid ointments for days prior, in the hopes that my tear will be ‘not as bad as usual’. This is now my normal.
Even without having sex my skin is constantly on fire, irritated, itchy at times, and prone to cutting in random places extremely easily. (And the weirdest part is, there is nothing to visibly see?) Gone are the days of being able to wear remotely sexy underwear (a thong would quite honestly cut me in half) and I spend my life in huge M&S cotton pants and wonder why I am still single.
Yet again, I’ve been passed from pillar to post, told that my pain is in my head, and asked if I’ve considered relaxing more – as you know, if you are relaxed then it is a given that your vagina magically stops burning (please note my sarcasm… because that was very much a joke). I can’t even explain that heart sinking feeling where you look into the doctor’s eyes, telling them that there is something seriously wrong and that you are in huge levels of pain, for them to turn around and tell you that it is normal. I am now 26, and for six years I haven’t had a sex life.
I hoped, more than anything, that having the courage to share such personal and emotional details would shorten someone else’s journey if they were experiencing the same issue. I took to Instagram initially thinking that no one would actually want to follow a page about my vagina – because, well, why would anyone want to know? But it shocked me to the core that it wasn’t long until I started receiving messages from scared and heartbroken girls all over the world. What did we share in common? Owning a broken vagina. Why were we upset? Because no one understands or validates our pain. Why were we scared? Because we have no idea about what is happening to our bodies and why they are creating such a burden on our lives. Are we going to live like this forever? What is my diagnosis? Why does no one seem alarmed?!
All of this showed me the huge gap that exists in today’s society; the fact that girls (and anyone, for that matter) are not educated on the female body. Girls are expected to suffer in silence and accept ‘just take a paracetamol’ as a cure, whilst living our lives thinking we are going crazy because everyone around us is telling us that we are fine. I wanted Queens of Eve to be a place that women could not only turn to for answers, but be inspired by other women’s stories. I want to give women their voice back, give them a platform where they can express their perfectly valid concerns and not be judged by a single soul.
Already, with my 1,050 Queens to date, I have built such a strong and positive community that it really makes me feel hopeful for our future (and not to mention incredibly loved and grateful). I could preach about the strength that women hold forever, but it really is incredible what we are capable of, and that even in our darkest and hardest times we continue to come together and battle on with our lives despite our bodies doing everything they can to make it difficult to. My biggest dream is to make significant change within the women’s health industry, reach more Queens, and give women what they’ve always deserved (oh, and a proper diagnosis for myself and all of my followers would be fab).
To anybody reading, first and foremost please remember you are a Queen, and may 2020 bring you health, happiness and a flawless vagina. ✌️