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Why 'Vaginal Mapping' Needs To Be Part Of Your Healing Journey

Your vagina deserves some extra special care. Just like the rest of your body does.

Wellness

Something that I enjoy about writing for women's platforms is it puts you in the position of discovering all kinds of things that you might not ever discover otherwise; even about yourself. Take vaginal mapping, for example. A quick show of hands (via letting us know in the comment section) if you're familiar with what that is. Shoot, bonus points if you've ever done any vaginal mapping before.

If you've heard of it and your guess is that vaginal mapping is masturbation—actually, it's not. If you're wondering if it's a vaginal self-exam—you're getting warmer but not exactly. However, if you give me roughly 5-7 minutes of your time, I'll share with you what vaginal mapping is all about and why it's such a beneficial thing for all of us to do, at least a couple of times every year.

Here’s the Vaginal Mapping Breakdown

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Here's the interesting thing about vaginal mapping, right out the gate. While masturbation is about stimulating your genitalia for the sole purpose of sexual stimulation and vaginal self-exams are about checking out the external part of your vagina (your vulva), along with the opening of it and your anus, in order to see if there are any abnormalities (basically it's a breast exam for down below), vaginal mapping is more like a therapeutic massage for your vaginal area. Really, your entire pelvic region.

In fact, there are many health and sex experts who say that, by partaking in this particular act, it can actually help to bring forth a certain level of healing and release if you've experienced some past sexual trauma or if you've got some sort of anxiety as it relates to that particular part of your body.

As far as the technique itself, as you're actually massaging your vagina via deep breathing and light stroking, it's important to feel for areas that might feel numb, tense or even somewhat painful. In a way, think of it as reflexology for your vaginal area. Vaginal mapping is all about caressing both the outside and inside of your vagina—again, not so you can climax but so you can feel more at ease and at peace with yourself.

Some of the proven benefits of vaginal mapping include:

  • It can help to loosen up tight pelvic floor muscles that can sometimes make sex uncomfortable.
  • It can help to break up any congestion or mild adhesions that could be binding up the connective tissue around your pelvic floor muscles.
  • It can also help to speed up the healing process of a mild pelvic or vaginal injury (like one that may occur during sex).
  • It can help to free up emotional tension, stress or pent-up energy that is oftentimes "trapped" within your pelvis.
  • It can make you feel more comfortable with your body overall.

If any of these benefits have further piqued your curiosity and you're wondering how you can become a vaginal mapping master, I've got some tips for you that can help you to achieve your goal:

How to Do Vaginal Mapping for Yourself

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Again, because vaginal mapping is all about massaging your vaginal area (in fact, some people actually call it a "yoni massage"), that's the mindset you need to be in while doing this particular exercise. Get quiet. Light some soy-scented candles. Get into an area of your home where you feel fully comfortable with totally disrobing. Try and avoid any distractions (like loud music or your television). For this to be effective, you've got to truly hone in and focus solely on your pelvic area. That said, here are the steps.

Get to know your pelvis. Before even getting into the massage part, let's do a quickie anatomy class, focusing solely on your pelvic region. Where you typically put your hands on your hips, that is known as your ilium. The two bones at the front of your pelvis make up your pubic bone. The bones that you literally sit on are your sitz bones (the technical word is ischium). The triangular-shaped bone at the base of your spine is known as your sacrum. And, the base of your sacrum, where your tailbone is, that is called your coccyx. All of this is relevant because knowing the different parts of your pelvis will make doing the next things a lot easier.

Lie down on your back with your knees bent and your legs open. Then begin massaging your stomach and inner thighs. Before getting to your actual vagina, it's a good relaxation technique to first use an oil like coconut, grapeseed or olive (all of them are high in antioxidants and are non-irritating to the inside of your vagina) to gently rub your stomach (which will also play a role in vaginal mapping) as well as your inner thighs and the crevices that connect your legs to your vulva (the outer part of your vagina). Once you feel more relaxed, it's time for the next step.

Insert a lubricated index finger into your vagina. With the hand that you use more (meaning if you're left-handed, use that hand or if you're right-handed, use that hand), put some oil on its index finger and then gently insert that finger into your vaginal opening. Then place your other hand on top of your stomach, so that you can feel what you're doing, both inside as well as out. Next, press the inner part of your finger towards your pubic bone; if you pay close enough attention, you might just feel your urethra. Be intentional about looking for signs of tension or discomfort. If so, see if gently massaging those areas helps. Spend a good 5-7 minutes in this area. Then, while breathing slowly and deeply, move your finger towards the back part of your pelvis where your sacrum is and repeat the same process.

Once you're done with that area, massage the internal part of the left side of your pubic bone, then the right, all the while keeping your other hand on your stomach because the added external pressure will make it easier for you to detect if there is any "tightness" within. Also, pay close attention to whether or not you can feel your muscles relax as you're massaging the inside of your vagina; if you are doing everything properly, you should. This entire practice should take between 30-60 minutes. Just remember not to rush. This is all about self-exploration, being gentle with your pelvic area, and mastering how to deep breathe and massage simultaneously.

Consider investing in a pelvic wand. When you're first starting out with vaginal mapping, your finger is honestly enough; you want to make sure you know what is comfortable for you when it comes to where you go and how deeply.

But once you get used to doing this type of massage, something that you might want to invest in is a pelvic wand. It's an easier way to reach the deeper parts of your pelvic floor muscles, so that if you have any tender areas that may be resulting in mild pelvic pain, they can be massaged easier and the tension can be released quicker. If you'd like to look more into this particular purchase, click here.

Journal about the experience, if you wish. Something that I've written on before is the benefits that come with sex journaling (check out "The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)"). While a lot of it consists of writing down thoughts, memories, patterns and even sexual desires, if you want to reserve a section for vaginal mapping, that certainly wouldn't hurt; especially the first couple of times that you do this kind of massaging. Write down how the exercise made you feel, the areas where you may notice are more tender, numb or firm than others and if any particular memories came to mind while you did it. Again, a big benefit that comes with vaginal mapping is it helps you to release any emotional stress or trauma that you might've been carrying in your pelvic area that you didn't even think about.

Then you're done. While the first time that you vaginal map, "awkward" might be the best way to describe how it felt to do it, again, if you make it a part of your self-care routine (even if it's only seasonally or bi-annually), you'll start to feel more comfortable with doing it because it will calm you, help you to know your vaginal area so much better and, if you journal through it, it can provide you with some epiphanies about your self-esteem, sexuality and emotional processing when it comes to both.

I know this isn't something that comes up often, but it is a hidden gem that is well worth considering. After all, the best maps lead to the most profound treasures, right? My sentiments exactly.

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Jamie Foxx and his daughter Corinne Foxx are one of Hollywood’s best father-daughter duos. They’ve teamed up together on several projects including Foxx’s game show Beat Shazam where they both serve as executive producers and often frequent red carpets together. Corinne even followed in her father’s footsteps by taking his professional last name and venturing into acting starring in 47 Meters Down: Uncaged and Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family and Good Times as Thelma.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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