If the thought of holding a mirror to your vagina (if you have one) makes you uncomfortable, you’re not alone. However, there are a lot of health-related benefits to scrutinizing your parts with a vaginal mirror on a regular basis. Here are seven reasons why, from sex therapist Megan Fleming, Ph.D.
You can discover what’s normal for you
All labia are unique—there is no one “standard” or “normal” way for them to look, so don’t be surprised by yours if all the only vulvas you’ve seen are from porn or classical art. However, it is important that you get to know your anatomy, so grab your mirror and scrutinize your goods. Identify your clitoris, your urethra, and your vagina, and pay attention to what you look like, taking note of any details like moles, hair, or even discharge. Dr. Fleming also suggests checking in at different points during your menstrual cycle so you can get familiar with the subtle changes you go through depending on the time of the month.
You can check for ingrown hair
An ingrown hair occurs when your hair is trimmed and grows back into the skin. You’ve probably already come across a couple of ingrown hairs if you shave or wax down there, but they can also pop up if you don’t remove hair. Ingrown hairs aren’t too worrying, but they can cause inflammation, bumps, and pain because your body recognizes them as foreign objects, like a splinter.
Checking your vulva regularly will help you keep on top of your ingrown hairs. Most of the time, they go away on their own, but they can sometimes get infected. If you notice an ingrown hair or two during these regular checks, then apply a bit of tea tree oil or use an exfoliator to try to coax the follicle to the surface.
You can monitor vaginal discharge changes
Every person with a vagina will produce discharge—it’s completely normal and serves to keep the vagina clean and lubricated. How your discharge looks and feels will vary through your cycle, so it’s important to become familiar with what your “normal” is. Once you determine that, you can more easily tell if something isn’t right.
Knowing what your discharge looks like during different points of your cycle can also be helpful if you’re trying to get pregnant, because “cervical mucus really changes as you approach ovulation,” according to Dr. Fleming, so being able to identify the change will let you know when your best chances are of conceiving.
You can spot abnormal moles or warts
While doing a self-exam, the University of Michigan Health advises you to keep an eye out for suspicious moles, genital warts, vaginal tears (more common in the years leading up to menopause), redness, and swelling. Do a sniff check as well, because you may notice changes in how everything smells down there too.
You can groom yourself safely
Accidentally catching your skin with a razor isn’t fun, especially when occurs in the ever-so-sensitive pubic area. Setting a mirror between your legs will allow you to see exactly what you’re doing so that there’s less of a likelihood of hurting yourself.
You can watch yourself insert period products, dilators, or diaphragms
Unfamiliarity with the pubic region, especially as a new menstruator, is quite common so if you know anyone in your life going through this momentous step, then gifting them a vaginal mirror might be a good idea.
Mirrors can also be helpful for those who need to insert vaginal dilators, which are devices that people insert to relax and engage pelvic floor muscles gradually. Transgender women who’ve gone through gender-affirming bottom surgery, or someone suffering from a condition like vaginismus use them and may benefit from a vaginal mirror so that they can better navigate the device.
You can get more acquainted with what turns you on
Sexologist Megan Stubbs, EdD recommends individuals who are interested in sex to grab their vaginal mirror so that they can watch themselves masturbate and learn exactly what they like. “It’s pretty cool if you haven’t seen it before,” she says.
This won’t just benefit you, but if you watch and pay attention to certain techniques and how they make you feel, then you’ll be able to take some pressure off a partner and direct them to some foolproof tricks.