If you have a vagina, you probably know how hard it is to find great resources about caring for your vaginal health. Because of this, a small ecosystem of online communities on Reddit, Facebook, and other forums have sprouted up to bring people with vaginas the peer support and education they need.

Whether it's basic education or peer guidance on dealing with chronic symptoms and infections, these forums often serve as a lifeline for those struggling to get help elsewhere thanks to the ever-present gender health gap.

We’re so excited to share a Q&A with the founder and current moderator of r/HealthyHooha, one of the first Reddit communities focused on vaginal health. Note that some parts of this interview have been edited for clarity and length.

Tell us about yourself and your background. 

r/Peachikeen: My Reddit handle is r/peachikeen. I come from a background in women's health. I was a labor and delivery nurse for eight years from 2012 to 2020. Even before Reddit was even a thing in my sphere, I could see deficits in a woman's health care.  So I decided to go back to school for nurse Midwifery, and I’m now a midwife serving my local community, the community I grew up in, which is really special.

r/thedrunkentaco: I go by the handle r/thedrunkentaco which is ridiculous. My background is in management strategy consulting. But really, what I have done through the course of my career is focus on customer experience and diversity, equity, and inclusion. I feel like there's a lot of overlap in being able to amplify the voices that really need to be heard, providing a platform to be able to lower the barrier to access, and connecting folks with the resources and information they need.

What is r/Healthyhooha and what purpose does it serve for people with vaginas? 

r/Peachikeen: It’s a community where we're taking the power back, because vaginal health resources aren't really out there. So what else are we left to do than just come together and commiserate and learn from each other and have that level of solidarity and shared lived experience?

r/thedrunkentaco: [r/Healthyhooha is] for anybody with a vagina, whether it's new, or whether you're born with it. It's a place where we're taking all of our shared experiences and giving them [back to the community] to say that it's okay, and we're going to help you, and we're going to be here to make sure that you have what you need because apparently, nobody else is going to.

What inspired you to start r/Healthyhooha? 

r/thedrunkentaco: I kept seeing misinformation getting spread. Earlier in my career, I worked in the healthcare industry so I reached out to medical professionals I knew and I was like “Hey is there anything out there that's accessible? And they were like, No, not really.” And I looked at all the medical subreddits and realized this isn't just a women's issue. This is truly anybody with a vagina, or also anybody who's caring for somebody with a vagina. That was the reason and that is the principle behind it.

We didn't want to just make it about all women's issues, and make it kind of a place where trans folks or nonbinary didn't feel welcome. It was more: this is a place to talk about vaginas. Some of the first people that really were active in the community were parents and caregivers. And I was very, very, very moved by a lot of the engagement that we had, especially the early times, but now it's just it's amazing.

r/Peachikeen: When I became more involved in Healthyhooha, I was just getting into midwifery school and so I felt like I had an opportunity to help. I've got a women's health background already, I'm very online, I'm on my phone all the time, I love Reddit and I'm on Reddit all the time. So I was like, Well, I'm already here a lot and I already I feel like I'm in a good opportunity to a good position to really offer something valuable here. So I was like, hey, I'll jump in.” 

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What’s your approach to education in r/Healthyhooha? And how is this changing with the time we’re living in?  

r/thedrunkentaco: From the beginning, I wanted it to be a place where we could open it up and make it very welcoming to everybody. But then also very brass tacks, demystifying all of the language and just getting it out there. We now have abortion resources, and a lot of that is because of the political climate in the States, and the majority of our subscribers are in the States. 

The goal was to make sure that whatever was driving mainstream media to go one way or the other, we were pulling resources and saying, "Here's some scientific data." We want to give people the resources to make the decisions they need to and we want you to hear the truth and see why it's the truth and be able to talk about it in an open space without any kind of judgment or penalty.

How do you deal with moderating comments and conversation given that almost everything is related to health? 

r/Peachikeen: It hasn't really needed a ton of moderation really honestly, which is kind of surprising— r/HealthyHooha has grown into this self-fulfilling and self-cleaning community, so to speak. I try to leave it alone as much as possible, and really only intervene if I need to.

We've made it very clear that this is not a substitute for real-life medical advice. But I think we have to remember, it's easy to just say oh, “You know we can give you advice, but just go see your doctor.” Not everybody has doctor, not everybody has access to a medical provider.

How do you feel like r/Healthyhooha is contributing to closing the gender health gap and playing a role in de-stigmatizing vaginal health?

r/thedrunkentaco: This is an issue I could talk on for a long time because the gender health gap affects me personally every single day, to this day.  I don't know if we're doing anything to move the needle on that because I think it's a much bigger problem, and it has a lot to do with race as much as it does gender. But I do hope that at the very least people that are affected by that are getting some help through r/Healthyhooha. 

r/Peachikeen: People are always going to turn to something. So there may as well be a place that seeks to do the best it can to present a safe place and quality information. Sometimes it's just venting, sometimes it's just ranting, and sometimes you’re not necessarily looking for an answer. We just want to express ourselves somewhere and say, is this normal? We just want to express to somebody who's gonna get it. 

How do you see r/Healthyhooha growing in the next year?

r/Peachikeen: I'm really excited. I would like to see more collaborations with vaginal health experts and doctors, like Dr. [Rachel] Rubin. I think we'll just continue to grow and get bigger and bigger, and have a place for people to learn about vaginal issues. We’ve got the abortion sidebar resources, it's tangentially related, but it's still a very real, very real issue for a lot of is, especially the US-based people, and especially the ones in Texas.

r/thedrunkentaco:  I think the main takeaway is that there is absolutely an appetite and a market for [this group]. And there is a need for it. And all that we have had to do is just kind of make sure that we're staying in the right lane. And defining what that right lane actually is, and why we think it's the right one. And then being there for each other.

Our agenda is just being authentic. It's not really about being the biggest and the best and the whatever, it's just being authentic and being accessible.

What does a "healthy hooha" mean to you?

r/Peachikeen:  It means balance. No symptoms. That's a little clinical, but the absence of itching, the absence of bothersome foul discharge, the absence of pain, the absence of rashes. Just that nice homeostasis.

r/thedrunkentaco: It's also autonomy and education. Knowing how to keep it that way, how to maintain that balance. And then also that shared experience. You're armed with education, you're armed with resources, and you know how to keep it that way. And if things go off, you know, how to fix it and how to bring it back. So I think it's, it's not only achieving that balance but understanding and being able to maintain it by having the access to the resources and validation that you need.

If you could change one thing about the health care system for people with vaginas, what would it be?

r/thedrunkentaco: I would say mandated and accurate education for all medical professionals. Especially doctors. Right now, the only education that a medical doctor is going to get related to the vagina is going to be your initial anatomy, your reproductive system, and then maybe a six-month or a six-week rotation in the OB-GYN. So if you go to like your dentist or somewhere else, they can absolutely make changes with antibiotics or something else that disrupt things and even know what they're doing or how to help you.

r/Peachikeen: Similarly, I would say comprehensive reproductive education for individuals, and of course, healthcare providers. Good quality sex education, and reproductive education in Middle and High School. We've got to get good information out to our younger generation so that they can pick up where we left off and keep going.Interested in joining the conversations happening in r/Healthyhooha or accessing some of their amazing resources.

Join the Healthyhooha community on Reddit for free today!