Experts say

Dr. Tan Toh Lick

Obstetric & Gynaecology,
Thomson Women's Clinic

Dr Tan graduated from King’s College London in 1997 and undertook his specialist training in London and Kent, UK. He worked in London as a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist before relocating to Singapore in 2013.

Dr Tan is on the UK’s General Medical Council and Singapore Medical Council’s specialist registers. He is also a Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and has RCOG special skills accreditation in minimally invasive surgery, gynaecological ultrasound, subfertility management and medical education. Apart from practicing, he enjoys teaching and currently runs medical education programmes for general practitioners and specialists.
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Erin Chen

Sexual Wellness Advocate,
Sex & Relationship Counselor

Erin is an advocate for the inclusion of sexual wellness as part of everyday healthy living. She holds a Masters degree in Sexual Health Counselling from the University of Sydney, and helps people discover and confidently explore intimacy and pleasure within oneself or with another.

Her career in sexual wellness began with the founding of Lila Sutra, a company that has disrupted sexual taboos in Singapore. In 2017, she launched SPARK – Asia’s first sexual wellness festival that brings together entrepreneurs, advocates and the general community to advance the modern conversation on intimacy, sexual health, and gender.
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Dr. Felix Li

Aesthetic Medicine,
Dr Felix Li Thomson Wellth Clinic

Dr. Li earned his medical degree from the National University of Singapore, and is accredited by the Aesthetic Practice Oversight Committee of the Singapore Medical Council in aesthetic procedures.

He regularly attends local and international conferences on aesthetic and anti-ageing medicine, as well as advanced anatomy workshops and masterclasses to keep abreast of the field’s rapid advances.
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Self-awareness and self-care starts from within, do you have any recommendations for the women who have just started their self-discovery journey or any encouragement for those who are afraid to make the first steps?
As I mentioned, something women can do is to try to make friends with it. We don’t usually take that context with our vulvas. So start by saying hi and having a look. You can do this exercise however way you want to – it doesn’t have to be a big deal. It can be a quick, 5 second peek or you can make it a whole occasion where you light candles, play music and really take your time. There’s no right way to do this exercise, it’s whatever you make it to be. The important part is to observe and pay attention to your thoughts and feelings, without judgment. I often encourage women to do this exercise regularly because it’s a great way to check in with your vulva and figure out its needs and wants.

Aside from this, general knowledge about vulvas and sexuality is always helpful in our sexual wellness journey; so a great book that I always suggest is “Come As You Are” by Emily Nagoski.

Erin Chen
5 April 2019
What are some of the things that women can do to care for their vulvas?
Caring for your vulva can feel quite confusing – where would you start?? In my experience, many women don’t have a very strong connection with their vulvas. So while we can care for our vulvas physically – don’t forget, there is also another part that goes into vulva care: how we feel about ours.

The starting point to that is to be honest with yourself about your feelings. It’s perfectly normal to feel shame towards your vulva (thanks, patriarchy), embarrassed by how it looks or smells. Perhaps you have an abundance of positive feelings, or maybe none at all. Whatever it may be, it is normal and okay. The starting point is just to notice how you feel about your vulva.

A way to uncover these feelings is to look at it! Take a mirror and take a peek. Observe what you see and the feelings and thoughts that surface.

From there, you can choose how you want to move forward. The more you get to know your vulva, the more you will naturally know what you can do to care for it. What your vulva care journey looks like is completely up to you!

Erin Chen
5 April 2019
Women are often pressured by the perceptions set by media influences to have a “perfect-looking vulva”. Is there a difference between caring for your vulva and striving for the “perfect” vulva?

There’s definitely a difference between caring for your vulva and striving for the “perfect” vulva. Let’s take a moment and compare this to everyday wellness, where there’s also a difference between striving for the perfect body and caring for it.

The way we can differentiate between the two is to look at the actions, behaviours and feelings associated with each. When we’re striving for the perfect anything, there is usually a lot of comparison between what we have to an ideal state. And the feelings that usually come with striving and comparing tend to be more negative – lots of pressure, feeling inadequate, feeling like we need to do more, and to be different. You know that you’re striving for perfection when you’re starting to experience some of these feelings.

When we are caring for our own body, the actions, behaviours and feelings are different because you’re coming from a place of knowing what is best for you. For some people it feels more flexible, or creative, or lighter. It’s more of an internal exercise rather than looking outwards to achieve that perfect “it”.

Erin Chen
5 April 2019

Do you think women are doing enough to care for themselves, specifically caring for their vulva?

I’d prefer not to generalise here because I’ve met and known many women who do amazingly with taking care of themselves and caring for their vulvas. That said, I do think there is a general lack of conversation and awareness in society about what vulva care is and what it could look like. So in that sense, it would be challenging for most women to practice vulva care if we don’t really know what it entails.

It’s also important to note that self-care and vulva care might look very different from women to women because it is something that’s unique to the individual. One interesting way to start exploring what vulva care might look like for you, at this moment, is to apply the five love languages to yourself. If you are not sure what the five love languages are, Google it . Once you know what your love language is, try it out in the context of caring for your vulva! You can get creative with this… what might vulva care be for you if your love language was physical touch? Or affirmation? Or quality time?

Remember that self-care and vulva care shouldn’t feel like pressure or increase your anxiety. So it’s not something you must do. It’s something that, even if it was just for one or five minutes, would give you a sense of joy or relief or whatever emotion it is that you are seeking that feels good for you.

Erin Chen
5 April 2019

What you think about Vulva Care? Do you think it is important?

For me, vulva care is a holistic matter. It’s not just about physical care, but the emotional connection and relationship we have with our vulvas. And it’s important, as part of vulva care, to have an understanding about them – much like how it’s important to have an understanding about the rest of our body and mind to be able to take care of ourselves.

So in that sense, I do think vulva care is important. It’s an essential and intimate area which carry a lot of meaning, energy and function for many vulva owners. In my experience, it’s also an area where many vulva owners don’t pay much attention to.

Erin Chen
5 April 2019

What do you think is the best way to open up the topic of vulva conversations? Do you think it’s best done from woman to woman?
I don’t think there is a “best” way to open up. For a lot of people, starting this conversation would most likely feel awkward and uncomfortable – which is completely normal when it’s something we’re not used to talking about! Here are a few suggestions that you can try to bring this topic up:

  • Share! If you come across an article, video, piece of art or anything that resonates with you – try sharing that with your friends or partner. Follow it up with something like, “What are your thoughts?” Articles are a great way to open conversations.
  • Be normal! Easier said than done, I know. This will take some practice – try to treat the conversation like a normal topic… there is no reason why we can’t talk about vulvas or sexual wellness the same way we talk about other parts of life – be it yoga, fashion, sports! A lot of the time, others feel awkward too when we’re awkward about it. So the more normal you are with the topic, the more space you provide for others around you to open up. Again, this takes practice – think of it as building your muscle memory for having authentic conversations.

From my experience, most women feel more comfortable discussing vulvas with other women; however, it’s really whoever you feel comfortable with that matters – the gender and their genitalia don’t really matter.

Erin Chen
5 April 2019
Why is Vulva Care important, and how should I take care of my vulva?

Like the skin on other parts of the body, care for it is important to having a healthy vulva. Infections, skin conditions, chronic pain and scarring can affect the individual’s quality of life and self-image. Although rare, vulva cancer can be devastating and lethal. Persistent pain, soreness, tenderness, itch, raised thickened patches, lumps or moles should be reviewed by a doctor.

Dr. Tan Toh Lick
3 April 2019