It’s easy to let some of the nitty-gritty of sexual health fall to the wayside. We groom and preen, buy cute underwear, shower. That’s it, right? Well there’s a lot more sexual TLC to be heeded, and important notes to keep in your mental Rolodex when it comes to your sexy wellness.
Steer Clear of Soaps and Fragrance
Autumn Morris, CEO and founder of Speaking of Sex, got us off (no pun intended) to an essential start with proper vaginal care. Do not, and Morris can’t stress this enough, put regular soap on it. “Your vagina is a self-cleaning organ. Some products are great for the vulva and vagina to help them recover from an infection, but overusing a product can cause the vagina to stop cleaning and maintaining itself, leaving you with a hot mess!” And by hot mess, we mean prone to more infection, harboring bad bacteria, etc. So use something mild or intended for the region.
Morris encourages us to be intuitive about our health. Don’t fall for every marketing ploy, and don’t feel like your vagina needs to look and smell like the first rose of spring all the time. This is important, because we want to maintain our vagina’s natural pH of between 3.8 and 4.5. “Listen to your body. Not all bodies like all products, and your body will tell you it doesn’t like something by becoming irritated and itchy.”
Also, while we don’t think “moist” is a dirty word, you don’t want to be uh, damp. “Stay dry at all times. I keep a pair of panties and wipes in my purse because infections thrive in warm, moist environments. Hot summer days are a vagina’s nemeses.” On this note, don’t be afraid of your discharge. Discharge is the sign that your self-cleaning organ is doing just that—it’s how we process out bacteria and unwanted microorganisms from our bodies.
Your lady bits have a microbiome of their own, and it’s a major component of the aforementioned “self-cleaning” part. “Probiotics are game changers for vaginal health, and cranberry supplements are great for preventing UTIs. Ensuring you get these nutrients keeps your bits happy and healthy all the time.”
This should go without saying, but get tested for STIs “after every sexual partner or every three to six months. Staying on top of your STI status makes it easier to treat STIs you may contract.” And preventing the spread of such diseases supports women’s health everywhere.
Do try this at home! Morris suggests, “If you ever have a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis that is driving you crazy but you can’t get to a doctor, run a hot bath, put two cups of apple cider vinegar in it, 1-2 cups of Epsom salt, and some lavender and tea tree oil. Soak in it for 20-30 minutes and repeat this daily until your symptoms fade.” Bonus, it’s great for your skin and cortisol levels too.
The big O comes with some major perks, but that doesn’t mean you have to adhere to partner play. “Masturbation has some incredible benefits that include lowered stress, better sleep, less menstrual pain, decreased muscle tension, and more.” So get a little curious and enjoy a little time with just you.
The last thing Morris wants to remind us is that feeling sexy is a mindset. After all this tender loving attention to your physical wellness, “No matter what you’re wearing or where you’re at, your sexiness level depends on how you feel.” She notes that of course we won’t feel sexy all the time, because we have days where our self-doubts overpower our confidence, or our social media consumption morphs our reality. “It’s OK to not feel like the sexiest one in the room all the time.” But give yourself some breaks, some of that (ehem) alone time, and do you. Sexy is a frame of mind.
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