I don't know what it is, yet the older I get, the more interested I am in being intentional about taking care of my vagina. I think a big part of it is because, back when I was "out here", I didn't give much thought to how much that part of my body did for me. Oh, but with age, prayerfully comes wisdom. These days? Oh, trust me, I am super conscious about doing all that I can to keep my va-jay-jay happy because y'all, truer words have not been spoken when I say that when "she's" happy…I'm happy.
Several moons back, I actually wrote about the kinds of foods we all should eat if we want to keep our vaginas nice and healthy (check out "The Foods Your Vagina's Been Craving"). Today, let's explore the opposite—the foods that can actually cause all kinds of drama down below, if we're not careful. For the record, the intent is not to get you to no longer enjoy some of your favorite foods, so much as I'm hoping that you will reconsider before having an extra piece or drink that's made up of these ingredients—so that you and your vagina can be in optimum health, both inside of the bedroom and out.
It really does suck that something that is so much fun to eat isn't the best thing for us, but that's how life goes sometimes. The reasons why sugar is problematic as hell is because it can do everything from cause us to gain weight and trigger heart disease and type 2 diabetes to put pimples on our face and even increase the chances of us becoming depressed or being diagnosed with cancer. The reason why your vagina frowns on too much sugar is because we've got good and bad bacteria in that area of our body. Well, something that bad bacteria enjoys consuming even more than we do is sugar and when it gets too much of it—BAM! A yeast infection is sure to be on its way.
Ever since I heard someone say that humans are the only mammals to drink another mammal's milk and then have the nerve to do it past being a baby's age, that has given me a totally different perspective on the stuff. While cheese and ice cream are still two huge guilty pleasures of mine, I must admit that when I go without them, I feel much better. Anyway, if dairy is your thing, it's important to keep in mind that it can actually pull calcium out of your system, up your cholesterol levels, put more sodium into your body, increase the risk of prostate cancer in the men you love and cause you to become lactose intolerant as well. And why does your vagina roll its eyes at dairy? It's because foods like cheese can actually disrupt the gentle bacterial balance inside of your vagina; when that happens, it's another way to end up with an infection.
3. White Stuff
If it's white, it ain't right. Food-wise, that is. The main problem with things like white bread, pasta and rice (except for like jasmine rice) is it's been so heavily processed that there are barely any nutrients in it (although it still contains a ton of carbs that ultimately turn into sugar). Eat too much of this stuff and you could gain a ton of weight with nothing beneficial to show for it. Not only that but white foods have a tendency to spike your blood sugar levels. When that happens, your vagina becomes more vulnerable and definitely more susceptible to bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections.
Common sense isn't that common. A wise person once said that, right? A married woman once said to me that while her hubby used to always be interested in having sex, when she decided to eat raw onions—a favorite food of hers, by the way—he had been going down on her less. She thought it was a random coincidence when, actually, probably not. Onions are good for you in the sense that they are packed with nutrients (including vitamins B and C, potassium, and the compound sulfur) and they're able to put cancer-fighting compounds into your system, as well as control your blood sugar and improve your bone density.
Still, when it comes to your va-jay-jay, a good rule of thumb to keep in mind is if something affects the way your breath smells, it's most definitely gonna affect the way your vagina smells and even tastes to a slight degree. And onions, specifically? They have a reputation for being particularly pungent. Before sex? Hard pass.
5. Junk Food
A couple of years back, I actually wrote an article for this platform about why junk food is not good for us (check out "Why You Should Consider Leaving Fast Food Alone"). A main reason why it's problematic, from head to vagina to toe, is it suppresses your immune system. When that happens, your body cannot fight off free radicals, viruses and infections. In fact, if you eat a lot of junk and you notice that your vagina has been itching a lot all of a sudden, go cold turkey on that kind of food and see if that helps. Oftentimes, the culprit is your diet. Real talk.
I don't know about you but, to me, there is nothing like some roasted asparagus tips that have been drizzled in butter, olive oil and parmesan cheese. Chile. The cool thing about this particular veggie is it's actually pretty good for you. Not only is it loaded with Vitamin K and folate, it's also got a fair amount of vitamins A and C, along with other antioxidants and dietary fiber. This means that asparagus can help to keep you regular, lower your blood pressure and improve your digestive health overall. So, why should you consider laying off of it, I'd say a day or two before having sex? There's something in it that makes urine wreak and sometimes cause our vaginal secretions to not be very pleasant smelling either. Not only that but it throws our vagina's pH balance off which can—you already know—trigger an infection.
There are few foods that are more complex than coffee. While, on one hand, it is able to do things like burn fat, make you more alert (at least temporarily), increase your physical performance, reduce your risk of certain cancers and even having a stroke, coffee also can trigger insomnia, make you anxious, irritate your stomach, make your colon lazy and become addictive. And when it comes to your vaginal health, like onions, it can also give your vagina an unpleasant odor. Plus, the caffeine in coffee has an odd way of hindering your body from fighting candida as strongly as it should. An overgrowth of candida is what causes a yeast infection. So yeah…push the java back, just a bit.
8. Red Meat
Much like coffee, there are some good and then not-so-good things about red meat too. Let's go with the good part first. Because it is high in iron, Vitamin B12 (something that a lot of Black women are low in) and other minerals, consuming it in moderation can be smart; especially if you are anemic or borderline anemic. The flip side to this is you've got to make sure that you eat leaner cuts because red meat can also be high in saturated fat which can cause a sorts of health issues (including heart disease) up the road. The main reason why your vagina would probably wish that you'd go without a few more hamburgers is because saturated fat can trigger bodily inflammation; that can definitely lower your system's immunity and also make your vagina susceptible to an infection.
9. Fried Foods
I have an air fryer and it really has changed my life. That said, I must admit that I'm someone who has a bit of a weakness for fried foods. I live in the South, so some good fried chicken or even some seasoned fries are like catnip to me. Still, I know that anything that is heavily fried in oil can clog my arteries, increase my diabetes risk, and might even put the toxic substance acrylamide (which happens as the result of high-temperature cooking) into my system.
Besides, it's not like my vagina is all that thrilled whenever I have a hush puppy, some mozzarella sticks, or a plate of fried green tomatoes (I told y'all that I was southern). For one thing, the fat in fried foods can throw off my vagina's pH balance. Secondly, fried foods are actually directly linked to bacterial vaginosis—both for me and for you. Something to ponder, the next time you decide to fry something up real quick.
10. Stuff with Preservatives in It
The long short of what preservatives is, is they are chemicals that are put into foods and drinks in order to make them last longer. The reality is a lot of the food that you see on the aisles at grocery stores are loaded with preservatives and some of them are pretty bad for your health. For instance, nitrates which are used to preserve meats can lead to colon cancer if consumed too often and sodium benzoate which are in a lot of sodas and packaged foods can increase ADHD, oxidative stress, allergies and inflammation. We already discussed that inflammation is definitely not the friend of any vagina, so try and stick to fresh and organic foods, as much as you possibly can. Your vagina will certainly thank you for doing so.
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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 email@example.com. 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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