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know yourself, one kegel at a time

I think about kegels maybe once a week. I think that’s about where kegels are in the culture, no? Somewhere between, Am I supposed to be doing these in my office chair? And, Kegel weights?? Cosmo wants me to stick pastel green weights in there like I’m Rhonda A-rousey?? (sorry).

First off, let’s dispel that loose vagina myth one more time for the people in the back. Give it the Cardi B treatment. The AOC treatment. Clapping emojis implied. No amount of sex loosens your vagina. Period. If you refuse to trust a reddit thread, ask a trusted male friend (or someone who has sex with vaginas). Preferably when he isn’t around that Kevin Federline-looking friend of his with the Supreme boxers. Tight pussy isn’t a thing. You can thank the good ol’ patriarchy for centuries of tight pussy (aka virginal, chaste, child bride) mania. A collective anxiety kept alive for the sake of porn search bars, vaginal surgeons, that horrifying opening scene in Kids, and the sale of jade eggs. (Of course, childbirth will likely leave it hanging loose, and many doctors and midwives do suggest various exercises to help you tighten up your pelvic floor muscles to help regain bladder control).

But the last time I thought about them I was admittedly on some Rhonda A-rousey shit. Somehow I had sex during a nasty case of bronchitis this week because men are insatiable sex monsters… No, obviously, it was me, I lost all self-control and seduced my partner with this kind of whisper purr thing I improvised through suppressed coughs. Something sly that said: Me? A death trap?

Then, in a delightful moment of sexual slapstick. At, er, peak pleasure a violent cough exploded out of me, shot my guy out like a cannon, but I caught it in the knick of time. Clung onto it— and his dick— like a prize claw and sucked that thing right back up.

First thought–Bow down bitch, I am so powerful!! Second thought, how did my vagina get so powerful? Have I been doing my kegels? I had not–never had–but now the thought was intriguing.

The main benefit Cosmo and the like tout out is a better orgasm for yourself and your partner. I’m weary of any mindset that treats an orgasm as a work hard, play hard mechanism.

It’s hard enough to get out of your head to solve that Rubik’s cube of a thing in the first place, so I prefer to explore the area without strategy…without a “gains=better sex” mindset, even if next-level orgasms are in reach, as advertised.

So I say, stay with the hippie stuff—fantasies of boa constricting bad boy dicks into oblivion aside, your vagina is more or less your body’s physical center. The sensation of familiarity and control over the tiniest muscles at my center felt like a useful anchor, and a good starting point to explore what else kegels could do for me. A lot of yoga classes and mindful meditation enthusiasts will tell you to start with becoming physically aware of every part of your body, to reacquaint yourself with it.

Use your kegels to reacquaint yourself with your sexual center. Sure, this could mean flexing all those little gals with your partner inside you, and maybe you guys will colonize a whole new orgasmic planet. It can also mean checking in with the space station and taking a breath with the whole team before all hands in, and blast off. Enjoy!

Mindfully Yours,
Neha Talreja, aka Rhonda A-rousey

Cultivating Big Vagina Energy

So multitudinous are the vagina’s luxury features, one could be forgiven for forgetting a few. Sex ed was a lot of info at once! Listen, I was obsessed with my new and extra perky boobs and I couldn’t learn everything! Risk-averse as I am, I memorized all the tragic fates that might befall my as-yet-untouched (except a lot by me) qt pie, and all the cool stuff went in one ear and out the other.

So it was with wide-eyed wonder that I recently re-learned about the vagina’s expansive powers. Literally. In case ye too forgot: when sexually aroused, the vagina becomes longer and wider, to better receive whatever might be incoming. The change is only a matter of an inch or two, but still! This vaginal ability has become my current obsession. I’m calling it Big Vagina Energy, or BVE, and it’s what I’m here for.

The vagina is an elastic, muscular canal that extends from the vulva to the cervix. The opening is technically called a “vulvular vestibule” like an entryway, like a mudroom, like a foyer. This tunnel of love is collapsed when you’re not turned on, with the front and back walls resting against each other. As you become aroused, your uterus lifts up, your vaginal walls grow longer and wider, and your cervix retracts, which some call the “tenting” effect. I call it the welcoming committee. I call it freshman orientation. I call it generosity of spirit. I call it shelter from the storm. Oh, do come in…

But we don’t really need another interpretation of vaginal-bodied humans as accommodating vessels, so I propose a different reading. BVE is growth energy utterly distinct from dicks. It’s growth that serves to include, to make warm, to contain complexity, to connect across the void, to create (life, joy, change, art), to understand, and to be understood. You don’t grow just to grow, you grow to hold.

Big Vagina Energy is a million things and this is not a comprehensive list. BVE could be nurturing a plant, a pet, or a person. BVE could be a juicy self-love session. It could be ping-pong-ballin’ around your BFF’s apartment using her beauty products as you wish. It’s Beyonce’s “Grown Woman.” BVE is how Oprah became Oprah. BVE is Stevie Nicks continuing to perform with Lindsey Buckingham long after their break up. BVE is the barista from the other day who genuinely forgave me for being very clueless about how the ordering line worked. It isn’t reserved for people with vaginas. But it also isn’t just the femme version of Big Dick Energy. Not everything has an exact opposite. Having grown up in a patriarchy, I know very well how to recognize power in terms of dicks/society’s definition of masculinity: stoicism, courage, volume, and endurance. This year, I want to notice power in different terms, moving along other channels, from less obvious sources.

This year, remember how big you are. Turn up your energetic volume and drown out the messaging from ads and the racistsexistheteronormativepatriarchy, and honestly, some of our moms. Fight whichever forms of internalized oppression haunt you. We don’t all experience misogyny the same way. But misogyny in all of its forms wants the same thing: to make us feel small and scared. You are much too complicated to be summed up like that. Stand tall, shoulders back, eyes wide, emotional AF, big vagina: ready?

Yours in Big Vagina Energy 💙


Self-care: my favorite way to justify a mid-morning nap, a late flake on social plans, or my monthly Lyft bill (ok, I agree, that was pushing it). Sometimes it just sounds like a euphemism for masturbating.

Whether or not you use the term or concept, you may have noticed it trending on social, becoming increasingly corporatized, and looking most frequently (and profitably) like a thin white woman in a marble bathtub surrounded by flower petals, crystals, and a cabinet full of luxury serums.

At Quim, we’re here to say… fuck that. We believe that self-care is universal, not exclusive. It’s empowering, not threatening. And above all, it must be intersectional. Audre Lorde said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” In a time when our political system is threatening our reproductive rights and physical safety, taking care of our physical health (yes, that includes our vaginas) is a form of activism and preservation—(one much mightier than millennial pink or rose gold.)

My personal story of self-care is the story of Quim, which also happens to be my means of political warfare.

After becoming sexually active at seventeen (oh heyyy mom, if you’re reading this!), I got hit with my first UTI, and oof, it was a bad one. From there, I entered a cycle of UTI-Yeast Infection-UTI that continued for eight years. I tried over-the-counter meds and stopped using hormonal birth control and bought every single lube and vaginal health product at CVS. Nothing was working, or at least not working in a long-term sustainable way. I was lost and in pain and ashamed of it, and I had to do something. Even though it was uncomfortable at first, I began talking to friends about my issues. I realized that even though many people in my community were hip to other forms of proactive self-care: regular exercise, conscious eating, you know, sunscreen… they were just sort of putting up with vaginal health issues. Living at the whim of an unhappy quim.

So I researched, and researched more, and I then decided to go to the natural grocery store and create my own proactive vaginal health remedies. Nothing revolutionary, just ingredients that worked for me, made by me. The ultimate act of self-care was finding out what works for my body. I want everyone to get to this place with theirs.

Caring for your body is not inherently indulgent. Yes, it can cost money (if you want), but that’s not a necessity. Self-care can be as simple as knowing that you sleep better when you don’t spend an hour scrolling on Instagram before bed, or that you feel your best when you start the day with a good sweat (could be a run, a shvitz, or a sunrise sex romp…) My journey towards self-care began out of physical necessity, but in caring for my body or “treating myself,” if you will, I began to work through the shame I’d been carrying for decades.

I started Quim to share the formulas that have done wonders for my vagina, my health, and my sex life, but also to provide you with support and information on what can be a seriously awkward and embarrassing subject to talk about. It’s my mission to help foster sustainable practices of self-care and promote a shame-free dialogue around vaginal health and wellness.

Thanks for joining us. And know, there is always room for your voice in the conversation.

Dutifully yours,
Cyo Ray Nystrom
CEO and co-founder of Quim