You've talked to your teen about reproduction and basic sex education, but have you talked to her about her vagina? These days, more and more teens have easy access to adult materials that promote an overly sanitized, highly groomed look. As you make your daughter aware of common issues like yeast infections and UTIs, teach your daughter that vaginas come in all shapes and sizes.

As scary as it might seem, sooner than later your daughter is going to have access to pornography. Before she's exposed to a sanitized ideal of what a woman's body "should" look like, talk to her about body positivity and her vagina.

If you're embarrassed to say vagina, start practicing now

As a mom, you can model lack of shame when it comes to talking about your body.

Does the idea of talking about vaginas make you blush? Start practicing. As a mom, you can model lack of shame when it comes to talking about your body. Keep in mind that there's nothing weird or gross about discussing vaginal health. You can help your daughter develop confidence and shed insecurity when it comes to her own anatomy. When you start these discussions, have a gentle sense of humor and acknowledge that you're both learning.

Talk to your daughter about how vaginas look

Salon recently highlighted the labia pride movement. While this may seem like it's an extreme way to promote body positivity, it's what these women felt compelled to do to battle the images commonly seen in mainstream pornography. With this in mind, dial the movement back to what you're comfortable discussing with your daughter. Let her know that bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Tell her that the shape of her anatomy is perfectly normal, even if she thinks it looks weird or she's heard peers or others say negative things about vaginas.

Encourage body positivity

Don't think girls need to be taught that their bodies are beautiful? Consider that women head to the plastic surgeon to have their labia snipped and their genitals bleached. Think about the way women are told by marketers that vaginas need to be deodorized to be sanitary. With this in mind, be a voice of positivity. Discourage language like “gross” when you and your daughter talk about health related to her vagina. When you discuss menstruation, make sure you're not giving her messages of disgust. (On the other hand, let's all acknowledge that cramps can take a hike.)

Discuss basic vaginal health

Even young girls can develop issues like urinary tract infections and yeast infections. Talk to your daughter about the right way to wipe after she uses the restroom. Teach her to avoid scented bubble baths and harsh soaps. Let her know that it's OK to come to you with concerns, such as itching or burning. Talking about vaginal health with your daughter may be uncomfortable, but it's a huge step toward promoting positive self-image.

More teen health

How to talk to your teen about safe sex
When do you talk about masturbation?
Does your teen daughter want plastic surgery?

Topics: