This article discusses a mature topic. Our 17-year old and younger readers are encouraged to read this with an adult.
I’m fascinated by reality TV for so many different reasons, but lately I’ve been most intrigued by the various sexual health issues portrayed and the outrageous headlines that ensue. “Khloe Kardashian Suffers Sex Toy Mishap!” “Kendra Wilkinson Stops Birth Control!” “Kim and Troy Yank Out Kim’s IUD!” Though I’m excited that these issues are getting discussed on TV, I’m not sure viewers are getting accurate information. So, in this month’s Ask Elizabeth column, I’ll be addressing some of the topics and misconceptions that have come up on these shows.
Do you have a question that you’d like to see answered in this column? Send them to me at AskElizabeth@pp-la.org.
What exactly are those balls that Khloe “lost” inside her?
For those of who haven’t kept up with the Kardashians, one episode featured Khloe putting a weighted ball into her vagina to make her vagina “tighter.” While these balls won’t necessarily make the vagina “tighter,” they are designed to strengthen the Kegel muscles. These muscles are in the pelvic floor of a female’s body, and they are the same muscles that you’d use to stop urinating mid-stream. Strengthening these muscles can prevent and improve urinary incontinence and improve sexual sensation. Kegel exercises are easy to do, and, just like at the gym, there are a variety to tools and weights that can help. Kegel balls, like the ones Khloe used, are one example. Contrary to the headline, these balls can’t get lost or stuck inside the vagina. (Remember high school anatomy class?) And, if someone was still worried, there are plenty of options that come with a string attached for easy removal.
Though Kegel exercises do have important health benefits, I’d like to add a quick note about gender roles and society’s obsession with “tightness.” Just as some women feel pressure to have large breasts, others may feel pressure for their genitals to look or feel or a certain way. We often hear myths about a “loose” vagina meaning that someone has a lot of sex or a lot of partners. In reality, your vagina doesn’t say anything about who you are or how much sex you’ve had. The vagina is very elastic, and when a female is aroused, the vagina actually loosens and lubricates. Feeling tight could sometimes be a sign that a female isn’t ready for sex or doesn’t feel comfortable. Communication, respect and comfort with a partner are key to a positive, pleasurable experience, not how “tight” someone is. Like with all aspects of health, Kegel exercises should be done because you want to improve health and strengthen muscles, not because of pressure to look (or feel) a certain way.
Can you really take out your own IUD?
One of the Real Housewives, Kim Zolciak, decided she didn’t like her birth control method, the IUD, so she asked her husband to help her pull it out. We see them go into the bathroom and come out with an IUD dangling from her hand. This is a classic example of “don’t try this at home!” Though it may be technically possible to remove an IUD at home, medical professionals advise against it. It’s best to follow your provider’s instructions and make sure to have it removed by a trained, licensed health care provider. You can always come to a Planned Parenthood health center for this.
Though Kim didn’t like her IUD, many women love this method. Like with all methods, each person has a different experience and a different preference. There are a lot of great options for someone interested in a long-term method, like the implant, the shot and 3 types of IUDs. Talk to a health care provider or visit our website to find out more about these methods. And remember, these methods don’t protect against STDs or HIV, so be sure to use a condom or latex barrier as well.