The Secret Garden

Today was devoted to the flora of the vagina: what’s normal, what’s not, what happens when yeast decides to take up residence, or when the lactobacilli flee in droves, or when all sorts of unfriendly sexually transmitted diseases invade. Our professor referred to the vagina as the secret garden, and that’s such a beautiful name for it that I think I’m going to have to steal it and start using it myself. It really IS a secret garden, full of amazing quantities of healthy bacteria that keep the pH nice and low, self-clean and prevent unfriendly bacteria from taking over: such a delicate, yet tenacious, balance. Honestly, the more I learn about the female body, the more amazed I become. We’re so friggin’ cool! I already thought we were cool before school even started, but now the coolness quotient is somewhere up near the “awe” level. I can’t wait to become a midwife and teach other women about just how cool their bodies are. What a dream job.

You know you’re in midwifery school when you find yourself examining your own vaginal secretions under a microscope during your class on microscopy. All of us dutifully trooped off to the bathroom with our Q-tip swabs to collect our specimens, then hurried back to the classroom to make our slides—there were a few nursing students in the hallway watching us with puzzled looks on their faces. It reminded me of the time last semester when a fellow student got told off by a nursing instructor for washing her speculum in the bathroom sink after the peer pelvics. You’d think that by now they would have gotten used to the whacky midwives they share the 7th floor with. Anyway, in theory, I can now distinguish between yeast buds, trichomonas and bacterial vaginosis under the microscope, but thankfully, the only thing I saw on my slide were normal squamous epithelial cells from the walls of my very own secret garden.

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