In order to be successful in life, we need to prepare ourselves for just about anything, right? So, just in case you happen to get a call to be a contestant on Jeopardy and then, just in case one of the categories is "vagina" (which is the entry into the body; the outer part is our labia), here are some random facts that you should know.
The word vagina is Latin for "sheath"; a sheath is a covering for a sword or dagger. Hmm…remember in the song "Rump Shaker", there's a line that says, "Now since you've got the body of the year, come and get the award. Here's a hint—it's like a long, sharp sword"? Welp. (By the way, the hymen is named after the Greek goddess of marriage.)
Most of the nerve-endings in our vagina is located within the first 1-2 inches of it. The average penis is 5" when it's erect. So no, you don't need a man who's "packin'" in order to have a really good time. That's a (media) myth. You'd be far better off with someone who knows what he's doing—"average" or not.
While the hair on our head can grow for seven years, our pubic hair grows for no more than three weeks before a new cycle starts. And yes, pubic hair serves a purpose—it can protect us from bacteria, serve as a cushion from friction and abrasions, and it also decreases our chances of getting an STD since shaving or waxing could leave sores behind and make us susceptible to them (if the person we're sleeping with is infected).
These are just some of the things that make our vaginas so fascinating. Hands down, they are super special (just look at what men go through just to get close to one!). Still, sometimes we don't give our "passion flowers" (a popular nickname for it) the kind of attention that it deserves.
So, in honor of knowing that our vaginas could probably stand to get some extra TLC, here's what my research revealed that a lot of us could probably stand to do more often for/to it:
1.Wear Cotton Underwear
First up, if you've got any panties in your collection that are older than 6-12 months, you should toss 'em. There is bacteria (plus about one-tenth gram of feces) that could still be in your underwear that could lead to irritation.
When you head out to buy some new ones, it's best that they are made out of cotton (organic cotton, if you can); high-tech polyester comes in as a close second. Since they're the kind of fabric that breathe and absorb liquid, they significantly decreases your chances of having a yeast infection.
If you're thinking this means that you have to go without thongs, well, it is important to do all things in moderation (thongs tend to be pretty tight). But so long as you're wearing a size that actually fits and they also are made out of cotton (100 percent cotton), you should be all good.
2.Wash Your Undies by Hand
Tossing your underwear into the wash with the rest of your clothes may be quicker and easier but it's kinda wreaking havoc on them at the same time. It really is best to wash your undies by hand in the sink with a hypo-allergenic detergent.
If you'd still prefer to use your washing machine, cop a few mesh bags to put them in, set your machine to hot when cleaning them. Oh, just to be extra safe—before putting your panties in, put about a ½ cup of bleach into the machine and let it run a full wash cycle in order to sanitize it.
3.Take a Probiotic
When it comes to vaginal health, it's always a good idea to take a proactive approach. One of the best ways to keep yeast and bacterial infections at bay is to take a probiotic on a daily basis. It's what maintains "friendly bacteria" in our gut and vaginal tract while also keeping our pH levels in check.
When shopping for a probiotic, make sure that it contains lactobacillus, bifidobacterium, or saccharomyces boulardii in it (preferably all three). It also needs to contain at least one billion forming colony units in it (it'll say so on the bottle).
If you've never taken a probiotic before and, at first, you feel gassy or your stool patterns shift, generally that's nothing to worry about. It simply means that the probiotics are taking effect.
As far as probiotic foods go, yogurt definitely tops the list. Also, fermented foods like pickles, sauerkraut, kombucha, miso soup and brine are good. So is dark chocolate (the kind that contains 70 percent or more cocoa).
4.Also Take Some Omega-3s
Something else that your vagina needs is healthy dosages of omega-3 oil. The acids in them help to increase blood circulation, even down in the genitalia region. You know what that means—more orgasms! Also, if a shift in your hormones has led to vaginal dryness or even atrophy, omega-3 can soothe your labia's skin and even help to restore lubrication.
Taking a daily supplement is a good idea. Also, foods that are really high in omega-3 include walnuts, salmon, sardines, pastured eggs and spinach.
5.Do Kegel Exercises
What is such a big deal about kegels? Your bladder, uterus, rectum and yes, even your vagina are all encased in what are known as your pelvic floor muscles. Kegels are what help to keep them nice and strong. The stronger they are, the more support your back and hips will get; the less you'll have to worry about a leaky bladder; the quicker your pelvic region can bounce back after childbirth and the easier it will be to not only have orgasms but intensified orgasms (yes!).
6.Make Your Own Lube
Megan Madden/Getty Images
Sex is great. Really great. But sometimes the friction that comes from having it creates little micro-tears in our urethra and vagina. Whenever that happens, it leaves us susceptible to infection. We're more vulnerable to this happening if our vagina is dry.
If you need a little extra help staying wet down there, either purchase a water-based lube or, even better, make some of your own. You can get your hands on an all-natural recipe here.
7.Occasionally Check Your Clitoris
One time I read a story that took a good two weeks to get out of my head. A woman said that she let her pubic hair get so long that some of it got caught up into her clitoral hood and caused it to swell so big and hurt so much that she decided to have her hood removed. Eww and ouch.
My takeaway was to check my own clitoral hood more often. Not so much for hair but dry skin, left behind discharge, etc. A couple of times, I did find a few things lingering, so I did some research on what I needed to do to remove it.
All you need is to dab a Q-tip into some olive or sweet almond oil and gently rub it around your hood. If you do it right after washing your vagina, it should easily dislodge anything that may be caught up in it. The more you know, chile.
There's nothing like soaking in a hot bath with a candle, some wine and 90s R&B for at least an hour. On some levels, it's really good for our health. Soaking in warm water can increase our blood circulation, expand our lung capacity (making it easier for us to breathe), calm our nervous system, soothe our joints and muscles and even help to balance out our hormones.
But when it comes to our vaginas, it comes with its own set of pros and cons. On one hand, if you put nothing in your water other than baking soda or apple cider vinegar (if you need to balance out its pH levels), it could be good. But all of the bubble bath products combined with your vagina's pores being open due to the water, could irritate your vagina; it might even cause a vaginal infection.
Bottom line—shower as much as you bathe and, for the sake of your vagina, try and keep all of the "extras" out of the water when you choose to soak in the tub.
Oh, and try and avoid rubbing your vagina with a terry cloth towel when you get out. Your vulva (the external opening of your vagina) is super sensitive and that could irritate it. Pat dry instead.
There are all sorts of reasons why sleeping naked as often as possible (so long as you bathe daily and change your sheets weekly) is a good idea. It lowers your body temperature by activating brown fat and stimulating your metabolism. It decreases the stress hormone cortisol while raising the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin so that you can sleep more soundly. If you're not sleeping alone, the skin-to-skin contact that comes from being next to your partner raises the oxytocin levels in your body, which makes you feel safer (hornier too).
And yes, it's just one more thing that is great for your vagina. Remember, your va-jay-jay is cooped up in a pair of undies for hours at a time each and every day. It's pretty warm and wet down there, making it the ideal breeding ground for bacteria and infections. Sleeping naked all night gives your vagina time to air itself out, decreasing the chances of it getting "sick."
10. Love Your Vagina (and Labia)—Just the Way It Is
A couple of years ago, it was reported that vaginoplasty (a vaginal reconstruction procedure) went up 39 percent. As someone who used to work with a ministry that deals with the porn industry, for the most part, I think that's sad. I say that because I've literally heard women say, "I want a vagina like Jenna Jameson or Sara Banks."
Think about how insulted you would feel if someone who loved you said, "You'd be prettier if you got plastic surgery." While your vagina can't use words, I think it would be insulted if we tried to change it.
As far as vaginas go, each one has its own look and scent and, so long as it's healthy, there's nothing wrong with that. Out of all of the things that your vagina needs you to do, make sure that loving it, just the way that it is, tops your list.
When you think about all that it does for us, it's truly extraordinary. No changes needed.
Did you know that xoNecole has a new podcast? Join founder Necole Kane, and co-hosts Sheriden Chanel and Amer Woods, for conversations over cocktails by subscribing to xoNecole Happy Hour podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Featured image by Shutterstock
Originally published on March 20, 2019
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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