When it comes to pelvic and sexual health, there’s no topic too taboo for her to talk about. A life-changer to many, Candice Jane Langford empowers women through education.
She’s a Durbanite who’s married to her high-school sweetheart, and a homebody with a love for the ocean. When she’s not out on a trail run or a swim in the sea, enjoying a good meal, a glass of red wine and row of whole-nut chocolate, she’s educating women on sexual and pelvic health.
At the start of her journey as a student, Candice studied marine biology at the University of Cape Town. It was during this degree that she developed an interest in reproductive biology. ‘As a postgrad marine biologist, I started exploring what was initially my school-going age desire to be a physiotherapist and I couldn’t resist the call to apply. The very short pelvic health module was my absolute favourite,’ Candice shares. From that point she invested countless hours into developing her skills and knowledge
to serve the pelvic and sexual health field.
The physiotherapist started out with a social media platform (nurtureyourvagina on Instagram) with the intention of increasing access to information in her field to the general public. It has transformed her role to now include physio, practice owner, public educator, content creator, and course author.
The Nurture platforms
Candice started the Nurture Your Vagina page with an intention to empower the Instagram community with information about so-called ‘taboo’ topics that are frequently brushed under the rug. ‘I noticed during my studies that the basics had never been covered at school and that there was so much value to gain from this information. Later, during consultations, I was spending
a significant amount of time covering anatomy and I realised that certain symptoms were significantly managed through educational material alone,’ she says. ‘The Instagram page is a platform of free content relating to the pelvic and sexual health world. I try to create content that is relatable and lighthearted to break down the barrier that we feel and experience on a day-to-day basis.’ The Nurture platforms also consist of a website, where Candice provides content that is geared towards specific concerns.
Tackling taboo topics
Women are becoming more comfortable to talk about and explore pelvic and sexual health, says Candice, and it’s something that she’s elated about. ‘I feel that we are in a transition phase. People have always been curious about the conversations that I initiate on Instagram, but I have definitely noticed an increase in willingness to engage in these conversations. This makes me so happy! People are changing their perspective. It can be very frustrating to hear stories of patients persisting through painful intercourse for years after being told by a professional that it’s “in their head”,’ Candice says. ‘Pee, poo, pleasure, pain and periods … all of these are taboo. But this is thankfully changing! Historically, there are numerous facets that have contributed to body shaming, and sexual shame. I believe this perception also comes from the lack of information and a fear that accompanies uncertainly. I’ve said time and time again that we need to conquer fear with information and that is exactly why I do what I do, whether it’s a public-speaking event, podcast, free IG content or an online course.’
A move in the right direction
We can’t remain sheltered from information that has the potential to liberate us from pain, suffering, shame and fear, she says. ‘Just as it is important to understand the anatomy of your face, develop a preference of diet, choose suitable forms of exercise for you as an individual, so too is it important to understand your unique pelvic and sexual intricacies,’ she explains.
Candice is delighted to be able to make a change in women’s lives with her platforms and online course, Pain to Pleasure. ‘I have received many IG messages, voice notes and mails with tears of joy for having developed an understanding of symptoms or being validated for concerns. In the practice, I count myself as blessed to have worked with individuals from all walks of life as they navigate their personal journeys.’
And while these are incredible milestones, she has achieved so much more in her career. ‘I feel that my career has travelled dimensions that I could have never dreamed of. I am so grateful for that!’ Some of her experiences include traveling to five-star game reserves to deliver speeches, presenting to more than a thousand people on virtual events, being a part of movements geared to increase awareness about gender-based violence and to eradicate period poverty, and creating her own online course for people struggling with penetrative pain. ‘This year, I was proud to have received an award through Mail & Guardian as one of the 200 Young South Africans,’ she shares. ‘I wish to continue to find joy in the work that I do, to study further, to learn from communities around the world so that I can enrich those around me with the information that I am blessed to gather.’
Words: Bianca Muller | Photography: Courtesy Images