“What’s that smell?” is always an ominous phrase regardless of the person asking the question. Nine times out of ten, the source of such an unsavory miasma can be traced directly to my dog.

What can I say? She farts a lot.

As my daughters have grown into their preteens and teens, that question has often carried a far more personal nuance, quietly referencing the barrage of bodily changes that occur during that age and usually mentioned in hushed whispers well out of their father’s earshot. I have made it my life’s mission as a mother to always maintain an open line of communication with both of my girls. We’ve spoken freely about subjects that, if I’m being completely honest, would probably make my fellow PTA mothers blush.

Body hair. Drug use. Verbal and physical abuse. Dingleberries and how to avoid them. Sexual pressures. Bullying. Oral sex. And most recently, vaginal health.

“Is this normal?” my youngest asked me last week, wondering why her nether region felt intensely itchy. She’s not pleased at the development of pubic hair to begin with, and now she’s dealing with another uncomfortable aggravation whose primary solution involves deeply furrowed eyebrows and a heavy dose of acute scratching.

I assured her that it was indeed normal at times — it’s just one more perk of being a woman, get used to it, kid — and we talked at great length about cleanliness, odors or discharges to watch out for, and effective solutions to remedy the causes of any discomfort. Being a 12-year old who’s not a huge fan of showers, she visibly balked at my suggestion of washing herself daily. I recommended the same product I use (Vagisil Daily Intimate Wash, with additional emphasis on the “daily” part, much to her vexation) and for times when there’s an itch that just won’t quit, I keep Vagisil Extra Strength Anti-Itch Creme in the medicine cabinet. It’s safe for ages 12 and over, and since you apply it to your fingertip first, it’s safe to share between mother and daughter.

After we had finally exhausted the subject (about an hour later), I tucked her into bed because nothing makes for a soothing bedtime story quite like useful tips for maintaining vaginal comfort.

I retired to the living room to sip hot tea and relish in the fact that I am the world’s greatest mother, a bold woman unafraid of sharing even the most intimate details of her life with her nearest and dearest. As I sat on a leather cushion of sanctimoniousness, I slowly began to realize that I am actually… well, kind of a hypocrite.

Just weeks after my youngest was born, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer, a disease whose treatment required a radical hysterectomy and left me facing a series of difficulties long after I healed from the surgery. The shock to my body made vaginal dryness a pretty regular occurrence for a very long time, a private issue I chose to combat through the use of a sneaky bottle of “intimate moisture” I purchased incognito and buried deep inside a drawer.

I used it constantly for about two years, and I never said a word about it. To anyone — not even the man I married.

The entire situation was an embarrassment, as if I were somehow less of a woman because I was incapable of being intimate with my husband without reaching for a little help first. Where was that “bold” and “unafraid” woman back then?

Perhaps her daughters had to grow up a bit, just long enough for her to realize the importance of frank discussion where sexual and vaginal health is concerned.

For many women (myself, included), we hold our sexuality in exceedingly high esteem because it is tied directly to our femininity; when our sexual parts are broken, the psychological damage can be devastating. Whether it stems from shame or embarrassment, we just don’t talk about these things openly and I’m breaking the silence.

Vaginal dryness can result from a host of issues that include hormone imbalance, medications, pregnancy, IVF treatments, post-natal hormone shifts, peri-menopause/menopause, stress, and reproductive surgery. Women may find themselves in such alarming situations at almost any age, and many will experience vaginal dryness at some point during their lifetime. It’s a fact of life and it’s time we faced it like the badass women we are.

Ever the loyal brand-whore, my favorite product is Vagisil ProHydrate Natural Feel Moisturizing Gel. It relieves vaginal dryness without the use of added estrogen, and without any irritating perfumes, dyes, or preservatives. It feels completely natural and it’s incredibly easy to use; pre-filled applicators are a discreet way to apply the product exactly where it needs to go, and no one will ever know — unless you tell them.

Vagisil ProHydrate Natural Feel Moisturizing Gel relieves dryness instantly and it actually lasts a really long time. For continuous comfort, you only need to apply it every three days because it’s designed to adhere to the vaginal wall, releasing moisture slowly as if your body were producing it on its own. The product uses a unique blend of moisturizers that include hyaluronic acids (HA’s), which sound complicated but are nothing more than a naturally-occurring hydrator that’s already found in our skin. Even a tiny amount of HA holds up to 1,000-times its weight in water, naturally attracting and retaining moisture. As we age, the amount of hyaluronic acid in our skin decreases and that can lead to dryness and fragility.

If you’re dealing with vaginal dryness, spontaneous intimacy is much more comfortable with regular use of Vagisil ProHydrate Natural Feel Moisturizing Gel because it feels exactly like your own natural moisture..and it doesn’t interrupt “the moment”. It’s never greasy or weird, and for those of you who are wondering about detection during oral sex, I took one for the team and tasted it. You can’t even tell it’s there.

(You’re welcome.)

We never know what life is going to throw at us, but vaginal dryness doesn’t have to throw sand on our personal comfort or our sex lives. Life’s too short and easy solutions are right there for the taking.

If there’s one lesson I’ve learned as a woman and as a writer, it is this: No matter what you’re going through in your personal life, there is someone out there who is, has, or will go through the same thing. Women are a tribe, a not-so-secret society of warriors who wield the gifts of vulnerability, compassion, and honesty. There is no problem too big, or too icky, that we can’t conquer as a team if we open up to one another and share our experiences.

You never know who you might help in the process.

This post is sponsored by Vagisil and I received complimentary products. I disclose this information in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions (FTC) guidelines regarding the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. All of my experiences and opinions are my own.



A lover of lapsang souchong tea, unnaturally-colored hair, and Oxford commas, Alison’s stories are written with a signature blend of humor and brutal honesty. She often jokes that she became a writer so she could speak to the masses without actually having to TALK to them face to face, but words are indeed her greatest strength. She revels in weaving them together to tell an entertaining story, rouse laughter, offer reassurance, provide sympathy, or just to give the world a piece of her mind.


  1. Not sure it was possible to shoehorn the brand Vagisil in there any more.

  2. I prefer coconut oil to pharmaceutical’s…. and after 4 years the smell of coconut still drives my husband wild LOL.

  3. Sarah Smith Reply

    Good for you Alison. We as women do need to stand up for our bodies and stop being so afraid and embarrassed. We are a strong (and complicated) species and I hope this article helps a lot of women, young and old, overcome whatever femininity has to throw at them!

    P.s where were you when I was a developing teen? Lol 😉

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