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For young girls and teenagers, talking about periods, sex, and pelvic health can be ... awkward.

Unfortunately, as a society, we seem to ignore the pelvic region until puberty. According to Missy Lavender, founder of To Know Is to Know — a nonprofit that will educate girls and their grownups about all things pelvic — and author of the book "Below Your Belt," it's a scary trend.

"From a pretty young age, we were completely ignorant and passive-aggressive about our pelvises," Lavender says. "We kind of shove them aside to that icky place we only look at once a month."


But halting conversation about the pelvic region — the area of the body that houses reproductive organs and essential digestive organs — can cause serious health problems for young girls.

Our hush-hush culture around female pelvic health has created generations of girls and women with chronic pelvic disorders.

All images via iStock.

According to a number of studies, around one-third of U.S. women have a pelvic floor disorder, and research from Lavender's foundation shows that at a young age, many girls are already symptomatic with preventable issues that can follow them into adulthood if not addressed.

The lack of knowledge also leaves women ill-prepared for common life events related to the pelvis, such as the start of menstruation, sexual activity and sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, and childbirth, according to a study published in the Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology.

To prevent these problems, Dr. Deepa Camenga, assistant professor and pediatrician at the Yale School of Medicine, says we need to talk openly about the pelvic region with our daughters at an early age.

"When we drop our kids off for camp, we remind them of healthy habits like 'Be sure to put on sunscreen before and after the pool' and 'Wash your hands,' but we rarely remind our kids to go to the bathroom," Camenga says. "Holding it" for too long, she says, may increase the chance of developing pelvic muscle disorders, incontinence/bladder leaking, and urinary tract infections in the future.

This advice might sound silly or obvious to an adult ear, but the truth is pelvic and toilet health is learned.

It's up to parents and educators to teach girls what's going on with their bodies. It's a matter of their health.

Here are a few do's and don'ts on talking pelvic health with your daughter:

  1. Do your homework. Some of us adults don't have the full story on our pelvises either. Consult with your child's pediatrician for helpful reminders and tips. There are resources (including "Below Your Belt") available to help address the whole picture of what's going on "down there."
  2. Do engage early and take advantage of youthful curiosity. The earlier you can begin the conversation, the less likely the topic will already be stigmatized for your child. Any time they hint at a question about their pelvic region, engage. Smaller questions are sometimes the gateway to larger issues. Camenga says if your child is younger, feed into their curiosity about toilet behavior. "They'll be asking all sorts of questions about their bodies, so when questions come up about down there, address it head-on."
  3. Do make the conversation natural and easy. If you show it's not weird for you (even if it is), it'll help them relax and speak freely on the topic. "Answering questions in a matter-of-fact way helps de-stigmatize the conversation as well," Carmenga says. "When your kids perceive it as part of the everyday conversation and not as special and secretive, they're more likely to be open."
  4. Don't frame it as "The Talk." Pelvic health isn't focused on the birds and the bees. Camenga says treating this as "The Talk" can create a feeling that pelvic health should be secretive and only discussed in certain environments.
  5. Do include pelvic health in your list of healthy reminders. Things like wiping front to back, not "holding it," and reminders that using the bathroom is a healthy act can go a long way.
  6. Do connect in ways that make sense to them. There are plenty of apps, games, and books available to engage kids in different ways. Lavender has raised funds to create an app called Below Your Belt to accompany her book.
  7. Do keep in mind that health education classes don't cover everything. Many health classes don't even begin until pubescent ages for most students, so the importance of regular bathroom use and encouraging discussion when something — good or bad — is happening below the belt aren't being reinforced in the classroom. Studies have confirmed that "while school-based health education has been found to be effective in increasing knowledge of sexual function and behaviors, current efforts lack a comprehensive approach to understanding the pelvic area of the female body and the interrelatedness of the organs and muscle functions."

Even if it feels awkward, an open dialogue with your daughter about her pelvis is essential to her health.

Teaching good habits and building a foundation of openness at a young age will help your daughter stay healthy and keep lines of communication open through the thorniness of puberty.

So talk it out. It could make for more happy, healthy young women in the world.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Memories of childhood get lodged in the brain, emerging when you least expect.

There are certain pleasurable sights, smells, sounds and tastes that fade into the rear-view mirror as we grow from being children to adults. But on a rare occasion, we’ll come across them again and it's like a portion of our brain that’s been hidden for years expresses itself, creating a huge jolt of joy.

It’s wonderful to experience this type of nostalgia but it often leaves a bittersweet feeling because we know there are countless more sensations that may never come into our consciousness again.

Nostalgia is fleeting and that's a good thing because it’s best not to live in the past. But it does remind us that the wonderful feeling of freedom, creativity and fun from our childhood can still be experienced as we age.

A Reddit user by the name of agentMICHAELscarnTLM posed a question to the online forum that dredged up countless memories and experiences that many had long forgotten. He asked a simple question, “What’s something you can bring up right now to unlock some childhood nostalgia for the rest of us?”

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