The end of a calendar year is a symbolic closing of chapters for many. A universal marker of time not tied to religion, birth, death or taxes. No matter our age, race, sexual orientation or gender, a new year gives us a chance to collectively celebrate this seasonal and ideological shift. Together, we cherish our memories from the past year , and exhale at the opportunity to wipe clean a mishap or mistake. And, hopefully, for some, we may rejoice in our accolades and accomplishments.
Each year at Momotaro Apotheca, I take this time to reflect both personally and professionally on everything we have done. I am often overwhelmed, impressed, and inspired by the things our small but mighty team is able to accomplish. And of course humbled, determined, and curious of where we may go.
This year, when so much feels up in the air, I am reminded to look back to our roots. This business is reflective of the world around us — personal, intimate, always changing. I hope this letter can serve as a reminder that the amorphous parts of ourselves, the parts of us that are constantly changing, are some of the most important.
Why We Do What We Do
People often ask us why we do what we do at Momotaro Apotheca. And one theme that rings true for all of us is that we are personally connected to the work. For us, that means more than addressing the physiological aspects of our vaginal and sexual health. It also means supporting the minds, bodies, identities and of course lived experiences that not only ~ connect us all ~ but make us wonderfully unique.
We founded Momotaro Apotheca as a result of my own reproductive and sexual health journey. I needed solutions, emotional support, and a better understanding of what was actually happening to my body.
I know I am not alone in the confusion and chaos of sexual maturation and our reproductive journeys. The societal shaming, subpar sex education, and lack of information and support starts before puberty and lasts well into menopause. And affects more than just people with vaginas.
In our own community, we realized that many people don’t know some of the necessary information that people familiar with the sexual health world often take for granted. Things like: the vagina and the gut microbiome are connected. The vagina is actually the inner canal that connects the uterus and cervix to the outside of the body. Some didn’t even realize that there’s not an specific size and shape for a vulva!
READ MORE Is My Vagina Normal?
It’s these questions and curiosities that shape our search histories — and of course, the answers we find. Be it on Web MD, a reddit thread, or the porn we watch, more times than not, we are given information that is not only confusing, but harmful.
Misinformation breeds shame, unhealthy expectations, and judgement of others and ourselves that only deepens the misunderstanding of our own bodies and the communities around us. Culturally, we know this has a larger impact on the systemic racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and sexism that is as pervasive as it is present.
As a brand, we are doing our best to debunk the myths, unlearn the shame, and fight the misinformation surrounding our reproductive and sexual health, physical and mental wellness, and the culture(s) concerning them.
We encourage you to join us, not only as consumers and readers, but as friends, partners, or parents to dive deeper, have the awkward conversations. I still struggle with this! I can talk about vaginas all day but still feel shame about the wax I didn’t get, the armpit I forgot to shave…. These thoughts just goes to show that this thing we call life is always a journey…and no judgement if you never fully arrive at sexually confident enlightenment. Though I am truly rooting for us all. :)
Sympathy does not solve symptoms.
While we have found that personal anecdotes and relatability really are our strongest tools to better understand ourselves in the world, the personal can not address the prescribed, and sympathy does not solve symptoms. It is 100% true and okay — great even — that we may need help with products that can comfort us when words and understanding can not.
THIS is really what you could say “we really do.” ALLLL the sex education and reading in the world can not make an inflamed vulva feel better, a yeast infection go away, or finally put an end to a recurring bout of BV.
Aside from my own needs for a product that addressed these chronic issues — itching, inflammation, or general discomfort I was experiencing — there was an absence of an accessible, certified organic, sustainable, and efficacious solution that addressed these symptoms at the root.
The Momotaro Apotheca line (which at one point, was only a tin can of Salve that we mixed in our kitchen) is now a full range of products that addresses a myriad of issues throughout puberty, pregnancy, postpartum, and of course beyond. Micro-tearing from sex or an episiotomy, chronic yeast infections or hormonal changes, Bacterial Vaginosis or pH imbalance, vaginal atrophy and dryness. The list goes on.
Our goal? Use less products that do more. Create formulas that are antimicrobial, anti inflammatory, soothing, and cooling, all wrapped up in a discreet, inoffensive, and sustainable package. The mission? To help you feel comforted and cared for. We work at the intersection of science and self care, selecting each ingredient based on in vitro studies and clinical trials that support these issues.
Remembering our origin stories can help remind us all of why we are really here.
These experiences shaped more than a decade of my life and have lead me to a career in sexual health and this moment when reflection feels most valuable. Remembering our origin stories can help remind us all of why we are really here.
I’m grateful for the people who show up here and within our community and continue to show up for the people that experience the good, bad, beautiful and bold when it comes to our sexual and reproductive health. From someone who needed the support, it’s this community that really impacted me before I took this professional dive myself.
I think we can collectively agree that the path forward may be unrecognizable, although the seasons and festivities may feel familiar. The world is no doubt a different place, and moving through it these days can feel peculiar. But despite the cracks in our ideology and seismic shifts that almost seem irreparable, our goals and needs as humans remain the same; Practice love, patience, kindness when you can, rest as much as possible and find comfort in the unknown, because it’s comforting to know that no one really has it all figured out. And, without a doubt, our resolutions both for our year and this life can still be sweet.
Be safe. Stay kind. Take Care.
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