For far too long, women’s health has been a low-priority topic.
When searching, there is often a jungle of information, and it can be difficult to know what is true. Textbook entries about the vagina, clitoris, and female reproductive system are old, and the illustrations can often be difficult to understand.
We wanted to do something about this. Therefore, we developed a 3D model and virtual journey inside the female reproductive system.
The idea is born
The idea was born in the fall of 2021. Our VG video team has a history of doing stories about women’s health. We saw that many of these videos hit well among our viewers, especially young women, a target group that is really important to us.
But our videos had a short lifespan on our front page, and then they became hard for our users to find.
We brainstormed, asking these questions: How can we showcase our videos on women’s health in a better way? How can we create a long-tail effect with our video content? How can we showcase what diseases like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis are really like? Can we place videos inside a vagina?
A few months later, Russia invaded Ukraine. Social media became flooded with videos that needed verification. We saw a need to sort and systematise such a large number of videos. With the vagina idea in the back of our minds, we decided to create an interactive map of Ukraine, where we could pin our videos.
About six months ago we started working on the idea of creating a 3D model of the vagina and its surroundings.
Something the world hasn’t seen before
Our ambition was to create something the world had not seen before, and contribute to normalisation, greater transparency, and knowledge.
Technology such as 3D and AR adds new dimensions to visual journalism, giving users insights in new ways.
When scrolling in the virtual journey, users get information about the uterus, cervix, vagina, ovaries, clitoris (it has 10,000 nerve endings!), and much more. With a cell phone, the 3D model can also be explored in AR.
Cross-functional team, including researchers and doctors
The project would not have been possible without a team effort and cross-functional cooperation. Video journalists, editorial developers, designers, and leaders in the newsroom put their heads together to turn this idea into reality.
Developing the model has been exciting and educational for the entire editorial team. We collaborated closely from the start, and we have received ongoing feedback and input from several researchers, doctors, and patient associations.
There are many diseases that affect both men and women, but we know less about how they develop in women because the male body has long been the norm in research.
Shortly after publishing, our stories on women’s health hit more than 1 million users, reaching many young women. The feedback from our users have been overwhelmingly positive. Many people thanked us for taking women’s health seriously, enlightening issues in new ways and contributing to transparency.
The female reproductive system can be the root to pleasure, but also the root of pain and suffering. In our vagina universe, users can explore the effect of diseases like endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and vulvodynia.
We want people to gain a greater understanding of what it is like to live with various diseases and pain inside the female reproductive system. We hope the model and information can be useful for everyone — men, women, and non-binary people.
We are so lucky we were able to interview three strong, beautiful ladies who struggle with pain every day and who have experienced long queues and sometimes little understanding in the healthcare system for their diagnoses.
Mie, Hege, and Caroline are just a few of many thousands of women who struggle. They help show how great pain can be paralysing in everyday life.
Breaking shame and shyness
The model is translated into several languages, making it accessible in Norwegian, English, Polish, Arabic, Urdu, and Somali. In many cultures, there is a lack of language around and knowledge of this part of the female body. Many women come from societies where there is little communication and space to describe concerns and get help.
Shame and shyness can stand in the way of good women’s health. In too many cultures, there are few words that describe the female reproductive system, and those that exist are used more as swear words than anything else. Where language is not used, reality is also forgotten.
We want to contribute greater insights, openness, and understanding in this area. Women’s health needs to be on the agenda. We hope our focus on women’s health will be a contribution to turn this around.