"The one piece of criticism that I've heard about the mirror is 'I can use a handheld mirror, I can look at my vulva. There's nothing groundbreaking about that,'" says Aubrey Howard, Nyssa co-founder and chief marketing officer. Her response: Well, how often do you use a mirror?
Shop now: Nyssa VieVision Between Legs Self-Check Mirror ($64)
Nyssa co-founders Howard, Mia Clarke, and Eden Laurin, created the VieVision Between Legs Self-Check Mirror ($64) as a tool that can be used without your hands, provides light, and is aesthetically pleasing, so that using it becomes an experience to look forward to.
"This is something that is specifically designed [for vulvar self-checks] and designed to get you excited and to feel good about doing it," says Howard. "It is specifically designed for you and for your body and for something that is important to your overall health and your sexual health."
Why you should be doing regular self-checks
Often, issues happening around the vulva and anus come with physical changes. For example, in addition to a change in discharge and itchiness, you may experience redness or swelling when you get a yeast infection. But how can you tell if your vagina is inflamed without looking at it? And how do you notice a difference if you're not seeing it often?
"In my early twenties, I suffered from a Bartholin cyst. Now, I didn't know at the time what a Bartholin gland was or what a Bartholin cyst was, but these are basically your lubrication glands for your vagina and for your vulva. By the time that I knew what was going on, it was so bad that I had to get surgeries," says Howard. "If I would've been able to check and see that was happening, I could have just taken some antibiotics instead of having to go through a super painful and traumatic surgery that left me unable to sit down for a really long time."
Mary Jane Minkin, MD, an OB/GYN says it's never a bad idea to look at your vulva, and even suggests bringing the Nyssa self-check mirror with you to your gynecological exam for your doctor to review what you're seeing with you. "I just reviewed one of my patient's vulvas with her yesterday and she is 70 years old. What she had been noticing were some changes—which were due to some prolapse, [or] the posterior wall of the vagina (over the rectum) coming down a bit. She was concerned it might be something worrisome, and I reassured her it was normal anatomy."
She says she doesn't tell her patients to routinely look at their vulvas as long as things feel fine, but it's good to take an initial look to learn what normal looks like for you. "If you have some itching and it resolves, not to worry. But if you have persistent itching, and you take a look at your vulva and you see any areas that look red or white, then you want to check in with your care provider. And if you do have persistent itching, and it won't go away, then you want to check in with your provider anyway."
Shannon Chavez, PsyD, licensed sex therapist for Vagisil, says that getting well acquainted with how your genitals look can also increase sexual pleasure.
“Knowing your sexual anatomy and physiology can improve your sexual responsiveness and interest in sex,” says Dr. Chavez. “You are more likely to communicate with a partner about what feels good if you know your body and where and how you enjoy stimulation.”
Dr. Chavez recommends also using a mirror to watch what happens when you masturbate. "You can watch your body change as you masturbate," she says. "It helps engage your sexual responsiveness and helps you stay embodied during self-pleasuring.”
What it's like using the Nyssa self-check mirror
With washed hands and my blinds closed, I laid back on my bed and put the mirror between my thighs. I got the clearest view of my vulva that I've ever had. The shape truly allows you to secure the mirror between your legs so your hands are free to move around. Holding it between my thighs was great for surface exploration making it a great position for trims and light investigation. But to truly get deep, I needed my legs to be a bit wider. So I placed my legs in a butterfly position, with the soles of my feet together and my knees facing out, and held the top part of the mirror in place with my calves while the base of the mirror rested on my bed. This gave me space to really see all of my nooks and crannies.
The light casts nice warm white light that doesn't feel at all sterile (which can feel off-putting). Though it isn't bright enough to use on its own in a dark room, I found that when paired with other lights, it illuminated my vulva in a way that was truly eye-opening. Our genitals are literally referred to as "where the sun don't shine." Our vulvas are buried between our legs under our torso. Shining a light down there is an absolute game-changer.
In the 10 years that have passed since the first time I used a hand mirror for a self-check, I can count on both hands the number of times I've taken another look. That's absolutely bonkers to think about. This mirror makes taking a look not only easier and more effective, but also kind of fun. And while the shape of the mirror is meant to help you hold it in place, it gives the mirror cute mid-century modern lines, meaning I can leave it out as decor so I'm always reminded to use it. Can you use a regular hand mirror? Yes. But the experience won't be nearly as illuminating as it is when using the Nyssa self-check mirror.
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