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In general, Europeans have less issues with nudity. Going topless on beaches, nudity in saunas, pubic hair, breastfeeding in public, nudity on tv… this is all pretty normal for most people here. However, this does not mean everyone is sexually active or interested at a young age. On the contrary, there have been some studies showing that the more open you are on nudity and the more it becomes normal, the longer teenagers will wait before having sex.

This all sounds positive, but it has a side effect: feeling pain the first time you’re having sex is considered to be ‘normal’ for most girls, which it probably IS since most of them still have an intact hymen. Girls read stories about it in teen magazines, your friends tell you about their experience, basically the message is “sex hurts” the first time, which opens the path (but not always!) to vaginism.

My impression is that the lack of nudity in public life in the States, causes women to have a more problematic relationship with their vagina, but on another level. They’ll start thinking about how they look down there, compare with porn, they’ll shave, go to the gyn at an earlier age, use tampons, have cosmetic surgery… while Europeans have “seen it all”: they know every body is different and they accept the way they look, which removes the need to touch/change things. I’m generalizing too much here, but you get the basic idea.

There are large parts of the world where religion is so important (like in most parts of Asia and Africa for instance) that having an intact hymen is crucial, and tampons cannot be used at all (they aren’t even available!). When a girl doesn’t have pain of bleeds during the wedding night, this is considered to be problematic. I know that in certain African cultures women put sand in their vagina to make sex as painful as possible – you could say they PROVOKE vaginismus instead of trying to get rid of it.