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.
8. Bathe. Differently.
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.
9. Sleep Naked
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.
Featured image by Getty Images.
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