Vaginal health, weed, and sex are three of Cyo Nystrom’s favorite things. As one of the co-founders of Quim, “a self-care line for humans with vaginas and humans without vaginas who love vaginas,” Nystrom’s focus is disrupting western cultures archaic and patriarchal perception of women and their vaginas through cannabis. For years, Nystrom had been at war with her vagina because of constant UTI’s and yeast infections. When she started doing research and experimenting with different herbal remedies, she found out that herbs and oils like tea tree, damiana, apricot, and hemp could be used to calm unhappy vaginas.
“I started experiencing vaginal health issues when I was about seventeen,” shared Nystrom with High Times. “I got my first UTI the week after I lost my virginity. I [also] played competitive water polo in high school, so I spent a lot of time in a wet bathing suit.”
The pain and inflammation of the UTI’s and yeast infection were worsened by the antibiotics—prescribed and over-the-counter—she used. The ingredients in the antibiotics created an endless cycle of infection because they were wiping her body clear of all the good bacteria that prevent vaginal pH disruption. Nystrom would use products like MONISTAT, but the formula was too drying and she would have to use a lube for added moisture.
“Am I being pubished by God for having premarital sex,” questioned Nystrom. Instead of waiting for the Universe to send her answers, she began doing her own research. She discovered that a lot of the lubes like KY use glycerin. When Glycerin, a byproduct of sugar, is used for fungal infections it feeds the bacteria, which causes more harm than good. Nystrom started exploring the weirdest corners of the internet and trying out different remedies like putting garlic and yogurt inside of her vagina to help alleviate inflammation and dryness.
“When I was back home from college, I got a pack of tea tree suppositories and it was the first thing that really worked for me,” said Nystrom. “I would put one in after sex, and [they were] really helping me. I wasn’t really able to find those ever again, so I just started making my own. And it was really helpful for me because I was able to go like 6 months without getting a yeast infection or a UTI. I was able to have sex without worrying about the inflammation afterwards because the tea tree in the suppositories would decrease any inflammation with it’s cooling effect.”
Between 2014 and 2015, Nystrom was given a bottle of a cannabis-infused lubricant. All the excitement about having a product that spoke to her three favorite things: vaginal health, weed, and sex, flew out the window when she saw that the product wasn’t vagina friendly.
“I opened it and was like ‘Oh my gosh, whoever designed this clearly doesn’t have a vagina!’. The spray bottle packaging wasn’t exactly what Nystrom was looking for. As someone who advocates for vaginal health, Nystrom says she has a problem with products that condition people with vaginas not to touch theirs. The products design didn’t encourage self-intimacy, so it took Nystrom awhile to get it to work. “ I felt like I was spraying my inner thigh and not my clit or vagina. But once I got the hang of it, it was amazing. I had a mind-blowing orgasm, and I was a lot wetter than normal.”
Though Nystrom experienced mind-blowing results, the only ingredients in the lube were cannabis and MCT oil. She needed something more, so she began to make her own.“I had identified a lot of other ingredients that were super helpful in maintaining my vaginal health. And by that point, I was working in the cannabis industry, talking to different growers and suppliers, so I just started to try making my own stuff.”
A few years later, Quim was birthed. A 17th century British slang word, quim means vagina, vulva, or cunt. Nystrom says that she and her co-founder, Rachel Washtien, chose the name Quim because it speaks to the tradition of people taking back the words of their oppressors and re-empowering themselves by saying the word.
Quim is focused on helping facilitate conversations that address society’s fear of women, their bodies, and their sexuality.
“Let’s have a conversation about why you think being called a pussy, quim, or cunt is a bad thing? [The vagina] is a life giving organ that expands and contracts based on different scenarios. It shouldn’t be offensive because there is nothing bad about it. It’s a really empowering and beautiful organ, and I think we need to challenge people to [change their perspective],” said Nystrom.
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