Since November is typically the month when a lot of emphasis is placed on the importance of expressing gratitude for all of the things that you are thankful for and also since I tend to spend a somewhat significant amount of time talking about one of the things that makes womanhood so amazing — our vaginas — I thought that now was as good of a time as any to share some ways where you can actually show your vagina — and vulva (which is the outer part of your vagina) — some love in this lane. And while I know that, initially, this all might sound a little crazy, if you look at what gratitude really means, I'm thinking that it will help to put this into context in a pretty inspiring way.
Gratitude: to be appreciative
Appreciate: to be thankful for; to value or regard highly; place a high estimate on; to be fully conscious of; be aware of; detect; to raise in value
Vaginas help to bring us sexual pleasure. Vaginas play a role in our reproductive system and helping us to conceive. Oftentimes, our babies are birthed through our vaginas. How could something that holds so much significance not deserve to get a little appreciation every once in a while? So, in honor of my vagina and yours, here are 12 things that we all should at least consider doing in order to let "her" know that we see her and that we are so thankful for all that she does. Straight up.
1. Think of All of the Reasons Why You’re Thankful for Your Vagina
I've got a friend who says that she's never looked at her vagina, professionally "manicured" her vagina or really given her vagina much thought at all. "I mean, I'll cut the hair down sometimes for my husband but that's about it." As a marriage life coach and doula (by profession, I see a lot of vaginas due to the second gig) and also knowing that she's been married for over 30 years and has vaginally birthed two kids, I often say, "You don't want to show your vagina some gratitude for all that 'she's' done for you?" She always finds that to be a hybrid of hilarious and ridiculous. Meanwhile, I'm dead serious.
It's easy to take anything for granted when you don't stop to reflect on what it does for you — body parts included. So, before doing anything else, take a moment to think about why your vagina is bomb. I've done it and doing so has made it a lot easier to do some of the other things on this list, consistently and without hesitation.
2. Bathe in Honeysuckle and Coconut Oil Once a Week
Whether it's to soothe any minor irritation that your vulva may be experiencing or to pamper it, treat your genital region to a soak — one that contains honeysuckle and coconut oil.
While some of you may not have heard the word "honeysuckle" since you were a kid, it's actually got a ton of health-related benefits including the fact that it contains properties to help reduce inflammation, strengthen your immunity and help to prevent viruses too. If you add to honeysuckle, a half cup of coconut oil, thanks to the oil's potent antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, it can help to naturally reduce yeast-related symptoms, fight UTIs and also restore moisture if you happen to be dealing with any vaginal dryness.
And where, pray tell can you find honeysuckle? A lot of health food stores that carry loose leaf herbs happen to have it. In fact, Walmart even sells it online (click here). Add ½ to a cup of honeysuckle and a couple of tablespoons of organic coconut oil to your bathwater, let it sit for 10 minutes, soak for 20 and you'll be in a bath of luxury.
3. Soak in a Sea Salt Water Solution Following Your Period
I don't know about you but sometimes, on the day after the last day of my period, there is a little bit of discharge that irritates my vulva. Something that helps to bring everything back to balance is soaking in a tub that has about a half cup of sea salt in it. This works because this kind of salt contains antibacterial properties that help to decrease itching while also stopping bacteria from multiplying. A 30-minute soak, two days in a row after your cycle, should just about do the trick.
4. Cleanse Your Vagina with a Rosemary, Basil and Honey Solution
A couple of years ago, I wrote an article for the site entitled, "Love On Yourself With These 7 All-Natural DIY Vaginal Washes". The main reason why is because, from articles I've read, conversations with health professionals that I've had and also personal experience, I've learned that when it comes to cleaning my vagina 1) less is more and 2) if you do want to use a wash of some sort, it should be as natural as possible. Here's where another DIY recipe comes in. If you make one that consists of rosemary, basil leaves, organic honey and distilled water, your vulva can receive all sorts of benefits (because remember, your vagina is self-cleansing, so it doesn't need any "help").
Rosemary oil is dope because it's loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that can help to fight bacterial growth and increase blood circulation. Basil leaves are awesome because they have antimicrobial, antifungal and antibacterial properties in them. And honey? Honey is good because it has antibacterial and antifungal effects properties in it that can help your vagina to maintain its natural flora while also soothing irritated skin and even helping to fight off a yeast infection.
Just steep two cups of basil leaves in three cups of distilled water (which is the kind of water that has no impurities in it) for an hour. In the last two minutes, add three tablespoons of organic honey and two tablespoons of rosemary oil. Pour the solution into a container and then use as needed. It's great.
4. Treat Your Vagina Like a Plant
Did you know that talking to your plants can help them to fight off infection? Along these same lines, while there isn't necessarily a lot of scientific data that supports talking to your vagina, you definitely should feel comfortable talking about it (especially with your doctor) as well as looking at it on a fairly consistent basis; not just as preventative measure but so that you can become more confident with that part of your body too (check out "10 Sensuous Ways To Boost Your Sexual Self-Esteem").
One way to do that is by giving yourself a vaginal self-exam (check out "Why You Should Give Yourself A 'Vaginal Self-Exam'"). As you're doing it, have a "plant parent" mentality by being positive, gentle and at peace with whatever your vulva and vagina looks like (check out "Did You Know That There Are 10 Different Kinds Of Vaginas? Yep.") because they're all special and wondrous in their own special way.
6. Eat Probiotic Foods
When you get a chance, check out "80% Of Your Immunity Is In Your Gut. Take Care Of It Like This." Since so much of your immune system is in your gut and because there are good and bad bacteria in it, it's important to consume probiotics in order to keep the bad bacteria from taking over. This same line of thinking applies to your vagina because there are good and bad bacteria there too.
In fact, there is actually a strain of probiotics known as L. acidophilus that has been proven to help keep your vagina's pH in balance (check out "Sis, This Is How To Keep Your Vagina's pH Balanced"); the more "balance" you have, the less prone you will be to yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis. Some foods that are high in probiotics include fermented ones like yogurt, pickles, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, pickled veggies and kefir.
7. Take Your Vagina on a Panty Shopping Spree
I'm willing to bet some pretty good money that you've got some panties that are well past their expiration date. How do I know? Because we are supposed to swap out the old for the new, every six months.
So yeah, nothing says, "I love you, vagina. Good lookin' out" quite like setting aside some time to do nothing but purchase new undies. Cotton ones for day-to-day wear so that your vagina can breathe. Silk, satin and/or lace ones to seduce your partner. Boy shorts because they are comfortable and still casually sexy. Some hipsters and bikinis because the cuts are cute on just about everyone. Some thongs for when you don't want your panty lines to show. Some control briefs for your bloat days. And if you're really honest with yourself, it's probably time to get some new period drawers too. If anything carries bacteria, it's those bad boys.
It would suck to get a yeast infection following your period because your panties had your vulva and vagina all stressed out. Anyway, Women's Health Mag published an article on some of the best period panties around. You can check it out here.
8. Give Your Vagina a Massage
If there's one thing that you keep telling yourself that you are going to start doing more often is getting a massage, make the time to read "12 Different Massage Types. How To Know Which Is Right For You.", then consider giving yourself a vaginal massage. While, off the rip, it might sound like I'm talking about masturbation, I'm actually not. Sometimes, I will take a favorite carrier oil (sweet almond is one of mine; it's good for the vulva because it deeply moisturizes) and gently massage my vaginal lips (especially once I get out of the shower).
It's great because it improves blood circulation, adds healing oils to that area of my body and helps to de-stress my vagina (check out "Ever Wonder If Your Vagina Is Stressed TF Out?") too. While a lot of cities actually have vaginal massage practitioners (some prefer to call themselves a yoni massage practitioner), this really is an exercise that you can do on your own, so long as you're doing it strictly for pampering purposes only.
9. Apply Some All-Natural Vagina Oil
Not too long ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, "OK, So WTF Is 'Winter Vagina'?". Long story short, when it's cold outside and/or you spend too much time in dry HVAC heat, it can dry out your vulva lips and lead to irritation or discomfort. Something that can bring about some much-needed relief is applying a little bit of oil. Just make sure it's an oil that is proven to be highly beneficial for your skin (and won't irritate your vulva) like grapeseed (it's got an abundance of Vitamin E in it), avocado (it improves elasticity and helps to prevent dry skin) and sunflower oil (it's got Vitamin E, antioxidants, fatty acids and linoleic acid to help your skin to retain moisture). Whether applied separately or mixed together, these oils will be sure to keep your vaginal lips well soothed and moisturized.
10. Let “Her” Breathe Sometimes
I've shared before that while my health is pretty darn good, one thing that I do have is a fungal sensitivity. As a result, I have to be super proactive when it comes to staying away from things that would trigger a yeast infection or a skin condition known as tinea versicolor. For instance, sometimes there will be a patch of skin, underneath my armpit, that will turn into a yeast patch. It can be hell because, since my arm is down 95 percent of the time, that can be a breeding grown for moisture which yeast likes to thrive off of.
Another place that stays moist is your vagina. So, in order to keep it from being a breeding ground for bad bacteria and an overgrowth of yeast too, it's important that you let it breathe sometimes as well. Definitely go to bed naked (at least a few times a week) and shoot, don't be afraid to go commando (if you're wearing a dress or skirt; pants could be really uncomfortable and cause unnecessary friction) sometimes also. Because, word on the street is, wearing underwear less often can also reduce your chances of getting a UTI (urinary tract infection) because you decrease the risk of tiny pieces of fecal matter going into your vagina. Plus, you also reduce the chances of your vaginal lips chafing or getting irritated. The more you know.
11. Drink Some Pomegranate Juice (in a Champagne Glass)
If you've never tried pomegranate juice, I personally find it to taste pretty good. And once I found out how beneficial it was to my health, I started making it a part of my health regimen.
Pomegranate juice is full of antioxidants and Vitamin C. It's loaded with anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. Plus, it has Vitamin E and potassium in it. This means that when it comes to your vagina specifically, this is the kind of juice that can help to keep bacteria at bay, moisturize your vagina and even act as an aphrodisiac too.
Just pour some of it in a champagne glass — you know, to toast you and "her" — and you're good to go in more ways than one, chile.
Write a Vaginal Mission Statement (No, Really!)
Personally, I'm all about mission statements, not just professionally but personally as well. To me, they are a succinct way of sharing what you believe the purpose, intention and desire for an overall thing or goal should be. And well, when you put it that way, why shouldn't your vagina have its own mission statement? What purpose does "she" serve? What's your intention for her? What do you desire to be the ultimate outcome for her in this season of your life?
Because, as unconventional as it might sound to approach your vagina from this angle, when you're clear about what you want for her and how you want her to be treated, it will make care, upkeep, health-related priorities, "extracurricular activities" and yes, showing her some gratitude, so much easier to do. So, before this month wraps up, definitely jot down a paragraph or two that centers around a mission statement for your vagina. She'll appreciate the forethought — and sis, so will you. Give thanks.
To learn more about all things vaginal health and wellness, check out the xoNecole Women's Health section here.
Featured image by Getty Images