2020 has been… a lot. As people’s mental and physical health suffer, self-care has surged in popularity. But forget about the countryside walks and long baths because a different sort of self-care is predicted to take over in the new year: v-care.
The beauty of self-care is that it can mean almost anything to anyone, with the only definitional requirement being that it preserves or improves one’s own mental, physical or emotional health. A nationwide survey commissioned in August by The Body Shop revealed that self-tanning and luxury baths have been some of the nation’s favourite self-care activities during the COVID-19 lockdown, with millions extra in spending on self-tanning products, whilst the average person has spent an extra 15 minutes in the bath each month.
One thing missing from the survey’s findings, however, is the time spent on vaginal self-care (or v-care for short). Perhaps a reason v-care is often overlooked is that, honestly, it gets some bad press. Between Gwenyth Paltrow’s controversial jade egg claims and debates about whether or not too many hot baths are bad for your vagina, it has wrongly gained a diva-like reputation in recent years.
But it’s time to get comfortable with your vagina, as Stephanie Taylor, founder of the pelvic healthcare company Kegel8, and intimate health expert, predicts that in 2021 this will all change. Here are some of her predictions for what v-care trends we can expect to see.
V-beauty at home
Subjecting our intimate areas to tough hair removal rituals — including shaving, waxing and lasering — can upset or damage the sensitive skin over time. Even just wearing tight underwear can lead to issues like chafing, yeast infections and UTIs if bacteria and moisture become trapped against the skin.
Luckily, health and beauty brands are beginning to take notice of the gap in the market for accessible v-care products that women can use at home. 2021 will see products including intimate sheet masks and nurturing soothing balms being added to pamper-day wish lists.
Let’s talk about discharge
A viral TikTok video this year helped to start a conversation on the important (but often avoided) issue of discharge, teaching women all over the world why their discharge may be staining their underwear.
Vaginas have a different pH level to the rest of our body, with a healthy range being between 3.8 and 4.5, which is moderately acidic. Before menstruation and after menopause, a healthy pH tends to be higher than 4.5.
At times you may find bleach spots in your underwear if your vagina and its discharge are too acidic. But it is absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about and does in fact happen to a lot of women. Your vagina is generally pretty good at re-regulating itself but if this is something you regularly have issues with, try upping your intake of foods containing natural probiotics (including yoghurt). Alternatively, you could try investing in probiotic supplements containing ‘lactobacillus’ but do book an appointment to see your GP or a gynaecologist if your symptoms persist.
Investing in pleasure
Though self-pleasure is nothing new or ground-breaking, speaking up about it certainly is. Only in the last few years, women have finally been able to talk about masturbation, breaking down the taboo.
This year has seen some high-profile celebrities work to remove the stigma around female self-pleasure. Lily Allen released her own line of sex toys in October, with a mission to normalise conversations around women ‘deserving amazing orgasms.’ Just weeks later, Cara Delevigne announced that she had joined sex toy company Lora DiCarlo as co-owner and creative advisor.
In 2021 we will see even more influential women open up about self-pleasure, which will help encourage more women to talk about female self-pleasure without guilt or shame.
Pubic hair is back in fashion
Pubic hair trends have changed dramatically over the years, from the decade of ‘the bush’ in the 70s to the rise of the minimalist Hollywood wax in the 90s and noughties.
With salons forced to close for most of 2020 due to lockdown restrictions across the UK, many women were left with no choice but to embrace the au naturel look and grow out their intimate hair. We can expect this newfound freedom to certainly stick with us in 2021.
2021 will be the year of the pelvic floor thanks to the rise of at-home fitness regimes and increasing numbers of high-profile women opening up about their personal experiences.
Sales of pelvic floor toning and “Kegel” devices soared in 2020 as more women became aware of the importance of this type of training. This little-known muscle group holds all your pelvic organs in place and protects you against bladder incontinence, prolapse, and an unfulfilling sex life. Looking after your pelvic floor should be an important part of your daily routine, and a priority for the new year.
Words by Talya Honebeek, with thanks to Kegel8.
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