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Letter V for Vulva

April 29, 2008

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April 2008 NaBloPoMo

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My daughter’s first language is Spanish. We taught her to call her genital area vaginita, which, because of the diminutive suffix, takes the edge off the medical terminology. But since we are almost always referring to the visible, outside area that can get irritated and sore, it is not technically correct. She would benefit from knowing the terminology for specific parts of her body.

When she was a baby, we used simple terms such as poto (bottom) and abajo (down there). Then when she was paying more attention to her body because of potty training, we decided that we would distinguish between the back and the front of her genital area to make it easier for her to describe when she was uncomfortable. That’s when we introduced the terms vaginita for the front part and huequito for the back part. Now that I’ve thought about it more and now that she’s older, I’ve decided to teach her more words like vulva. Medical terms often don’t need translation since they are derived from Latin; only the pronunciation has to be adjusted a little.

Consistent with a typical four year old, she wants explanations of functions to accompany these terms. She wants to know what these parts are for and how soon she will need to prepare for the functions. A few days ago, she was looking at her genital area in the mirror and asking a lot of funny questions. I was trying to think of dignified and feminist answers. I laughed when she suddenly translated vaginita as “baby hole.” Needless to say, this is an on-going teaching/learning process.

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  1. April 30, 2008 4:35 pm

    You are so much more evolved than me. I make my kids say pee pee. In fact, Gerrit is convinced that Emma does not have a pee pee but only a butt. I tried to tell him hers is just smaller than his but how do you argue with a 3yr old about a vagina? My answer is to not. I figure they can be ignorant for a while longer.

  2. April 30, 2008 4:40 pm


    This openness comes from my mom. She made us call our belly buttons “umbilicus.” She was really into the technicalities.

  3. May 3, 2008 11:53 pm

    That is like my husband trying to teach my daughter ‘BM’. I think I looked at him like he was crazy. His mom was a nurse and that’s what they said in his house. I said, ‘Um, no, I’m not saying BM. It’s poop in my house.’ LOL

  4. May 4, 2008 12:34 pm

    BM is what my mom taught us to say. But now that I have children, we call it poop. At the doctor’s office though I feel like I should call it BM. Thanks for coming over to comment, Jenefur!

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