Since November is typically the month when a lot of emphasis 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 bath water, 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-cleaning, 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 it as needed. It's great.
5. 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 a 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 look 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, take 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 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 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.
Featured image by Getty Images
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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. ;)
How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
I’m willing to bet that this is not the first time you’ve seen this couple. Dalen Spratt is a television producer, owner of a tailored men's suit line, and creator of Ghost Brothers: Haunted Houseguests, which is currently streaming on Destination America. Stacey Spratt is also a serial entrepreneur, focusing mostly on events and the nonprofit world, and she is the owner of two award-winning craft beer bars called Harlem Hops. But their accolades are not what united them.
The couple met years ago at their alma mater, Clark Atlanta University, when they were still working to create the life they have now, and if you had told them then that they’d eventually tie the knot, the pair probably would’ve laughed in your face.
Today, they’re new parents, flourishing in their careers, and each others’ “teammates.” When desiring love, Dalen recommends not looking to other couples for advice. And Stacey advises staying true to what you want. “Don’t put age or limitations on love and children. If God could do it for me, why can’t he do it for you?”
Here's How We Met.
How did you meet?
Dalen: We met in 2005 when she was advising the Greek sororities and fraternities in college. She was old as hell in college, and I was a young buck (laughs). Everybody had a crush on her, but I didn’t think much of it. Then, in 2007, we were in the same grad school class, but she still wasn’t trying to see me then either. I had to catch her five years ago; I was very patient.
Stacey: Yeah, everybody in our grad school class called him Young, Fresh to Death because he was always dressed in B-school (what CAU affectionately refers to as business major classes), and we’d just wear sweatpants (laughs).
So, I know Dalen was always attracted to you. But what about you? Did your attraction to him develop over time?
Stacey: So 2006-2008 – all the years went by. I don’t think we were really thinking about each other at all back then. Years later, I had an event in Dallas, and I booked him to be a speaker. Then, a few years ago, Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: "If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you." But I still thought he was too young at the time, and he started pulling receipts. Taraji P. Henson was dating someone young at the time, Gabrielle Union–
Dalen: First of all, I didn’t do that. You did that.
Stacey: Okay, I did. I thought he was a cutie pie, but that age thing was on my mind!
"Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: 'If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you.'"
Talk to me about the first date. How did he change your mind?
Stacey: Our first date was at Tin Lizzy's in Atlanta. During that time, he was living in Dallas, so it was long-distance. But he came into town, and we just had a good time. We talked a lot, which we still do. It wasn’t anything fantastic.
Dalen: Don’t downplay our first date.
Then, walk me through your courtship. How did you get to the next level? What was that conversation like?
Stacey: I think he knew at age 43 or 44 I wasn’t playing around. But also, I think it just naturally progressed.
Dalen: Yeah, it just happened naturally. And I’m going to be honest, I don’t think initially either one of us thought it would be as serious as it was. She thought I was too young and I wasn’t ready for marriage, kids, and all that. I think we both thought we were just hanging out. But after spending so much time together, a lot of stuff started happening. Like, she had to have surgery early on. It wasn’t just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That’s why we still don’t have an anniversary date because we never really asked.
"It wasn't just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That's why we still don't have an anniversary date because we never really asked."
What made you want to commit to each other?
Dalen: The moment I knew Stacey was for me was from a phone call. I don’t really like talking on the phone, and I can be really blunt sometimes. But we were talking, and I said, ‘I don’t really feel like talking anymore.’ And she was just like, okay, and hung up. I wasn’t trying to be rude, and she understood that. It sounds bad, but that’s how I knew she just got me. I felt like she could get my random awkward moments, and she does to this day.
Stacey: For me, I liked him as a person. Even when times get rough and tough, I could still like him as a human. He is my best friend. We have time. We laugh until we cry, and it’s just always like that. Even when we get pissed at each other, something happens, and we fix it. Also, how he treats his mother. That’s a momma’s boy, but I’m a daddy’s girl – so I get it. I know how I want to be treated, and I see how he is with her and that’s beautiful.
What are some important lessons you’ve learned about yourself through loving your partner in this relationship?
Dalen: I grew up an only child and she grew up with siblings. So, when you have someone who is used to doing things by themselves, there is definitely a learning curve when you get into a serious relationship. It’s funny now, but it was definitely a process.
Stacey: I agree – definitely the only child thing. There’s times I look at him like, did you ever live with anyone else? That comes from being momma's baby, too. I have to say, my “mother-in-love” spoiled him. But also with Axel (their daughter), that brings another level of patience.
Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images
What was the biggest challenge that you had to overcome together?
Dalen: We’ve gone through a lot within the years we’ve been together. We suffered two miscarriages – I’d say that’s the biggest.
Stacey: Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me. I was wondering if I can’t carry [a child] what that looks like for us. We had very real conversations pretty early in our relationship.
"Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me."
What do you fight the most about?
Dalen: Nagging. Stacey nags; she’s a complainer. She’s that momma that will look in a room and just hunt for something to complain about. Like, I’m worried for Axel when she's in high school.
Stacey: It’s because I like things to be in place. He leaves stuff all over the place. I can tell where he’s been in the house because something is left around. So he says I’m nagging – but it’s like, just get your stuff.
What are your love languages?
Dalen: Stacey is gifts all day.
Dalen: We’ve talked about this. xoNecole is about to cause problems in our home (laughs).
Stacey: Obviously I love you. *thinks again* It’s words of affirmation.
Dalen: That’s it.
What’s your favorite thing about each other?
Dalen: I’ve always respected her business-mindedness. That may sound superficial, but it’s not because I’ve never been with someone who thinks like me. It’s one of my most treasured things about her. I remember one day, I was just running through ideas with her, and each time Stacey had a suggestion on how I could make it better. It’s just very comforting. She takes whatever I’m doing and elevates it – including me.
Stacey: I love Dalen’s hustle and creativity. He’s been on multiple shows, and he continues to create, produce, and reinvent himself and the product he’s putting out. I love that we can create together and bounce things off each other. Even though we may be in different arenas, there’s nothing he can’t offer me great advice about. I love that drive.
Finally, how did you know it was love?
Dalen: Well – she said it – first. (laughs)
Stacey: And he looked at me and smiled! He didn’t say it back. We were on a trip, out of the country.
Dalen: We were arguing when she said it, and she just threw it out.
Stacey: But we continue to do that. We’ve spent holidays and everything outside of the country.
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The conversation about sex and intimacy often neglects the experiences of individuals with disabilities. Society's misguided notion that individuals with disabilities are devoid of desires for love, intimacy, and sexual fulfillment is not only preposterous but also damaging, but one disability activist is here to challenge that narrative.
"Society's perception of disability has greatly influenced my own understanding and expression of my sexuality," said author and disabled influencer Tylia L. Flores. "The stigma associated with my disability made it difficult for me to express myself freely, leading to self-esteem issues during my teenage years."
Born with Spastic Cerebral Palsy, Flores refuses to let her condition define her love life or limit her aspirations. As a passionate advocate for her community, she's on a mission to shatter misconceptions and pave the way for a more inclusive understanding of sexuality within the disabled community.
Misconceptions About Sexuality for the Disabled Community
Ableist misconceptions cast shadows over romantic pursuits for disabled individuals. These misunderstandings can lead to assumptions and judgments that hinder their ability to explore and experience love fully.
For instance, Flores revealed that most believe her caregiver, her mother, or another abled-bodied individual has total influence over her decisions with a partner. Contrary to popular belief, Flores wants the world to know she has complete control over her emotions and decisions regarding her dating and sex life.
"By educating others about sexuality and disability, I challenge these stereotypes and break down barriers. By being open about my experiences and advocating for inclusivity, I hope to inspire others to see beyond misconceptions and embrace diverse experiences within the disabled community," Flores stated.
Another misconception is disabled characters in movies, shows, or books cannot be the main character of affection or have sex. Media representations often portray disabled characters as either asexual or objects of pity, reinforcing harmful stereotypes and perpetuating that disabled individuals are not sexual beings.
"The only way we could create a more inclusive world for Black women with disabilities is to have more Black women come out and voice their truths in the mainstream media and literature, and that's my whole goal as an author," said Flores. "I want to see more disabled characters have sex on TV screens and express themselves sexually like abled-bodied characters."
Ignoring The Suggestion of ‘Limited Romance’ in Partners
The stigma surrounding disability and sexuality finds its roots in deeply ingrained societal biases and stereotypes. Throughout history, people with disabilities were systematically marginalized and desexualized, relegated to the fringes of society. This pervasive attitude stems from a misguided belief that disability diminishes one's humanity, erasing desires and needs deemed as "normal" for able-bodied individuals.
"As a Black woman with cerebral palsy, I have faced challenges in navigating intimate relationships. One challenge has been the lingering belief among many that individuals with disabilities should be limited in their romantic choices by only dating or being intimate with other disabled people," Flores explained. "This suggestion is based on assumptions that individuals with physical disabilities are not capable of having fulfilling relationships."
She overcame this by putting herself out there and actively sharing her life and experiences with others. The author also noted that she doesn't have a "type" limited to African Americans or disabled. She prioritized finding love based on shared values, compatibility, and sexual desires. Additionally, she recommended showing yourself without fear of judgment or prejudice when it comes to dating or having a sexual relationship. The right person will value and respect you, disability and all.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Feature image by Renata Angerami/ Getty Images