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When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?

You deserve to be pampered from head, to vagina, to toe.

Women's Health

I'm big on pampering. Unapologetically so too. When you think of all that it takes to be a Black person in this country and also a woman in this country, why shouldn't we make the time to indulge ourselves a little bit? Problem is, I know far too many women who barely get a facial, massage or mani/pedi, let alone set some moments aside to pamper their vagina. Yep. I said it. Pamper their vagina.

It might sound a little strange at first that there are things that you can do that will "treat your vagina with extreme kindness or luxury". Still, believe it or not, it is possible. Today, I'm gonna share 10 effective, affordable and super self-gratifying ways to help you to do just that. Make sure to send this to your girlfriends when you're done. I'm pretty sure they could use this very important info too.

1. Give Your Vagina a Massage

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If the first thing that came to your mind with this one is "I mean, I masturbate", that is not really what a vaginal massage is all about. There is literally something that is called yoni massage therapy that focuses on releasing physical and emotional blockages. Some people refer to it as vaginal mapping which I actually wrote about last fall (check out "Why 'Vaginal Mapping' Needs To Be Part Of Your Healing Journey"). Very similar to standard massages, you can pay to have a professional one done or you can do it yourself. Either way, taking out the time to gingerly caress your vagina, simply for the sake of releasing stress that might be built up in it, is one of the best ways to pamper your vagina, hands down.

2. Get into Some Specific Yoga Positions

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Yoga does a lot of things. It de-stresses. It increases strength and flexibility. It puts you into a better mood. It relaxes you. It helps you to sleep better. So, it makes perfect sense that partaking in it would benefit every part of your body, including your vaginal region. In fact, there are certain positions that specifically can improve the overall health and well-being of your va-jay-jay. If you'd like to know what some of them are, so that you can try them out from the comfort and convenience of your own house, check out Health Shot's article that features six vaginal-focused yoga positions right here.

3. Wash Undies by Hand in Fragrance-Free Detergent

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Did you know that there is some fecal matter in washing machines? Not only that but any time something germ-filled is put into a load of laundry, it tends to spread to 90 percent of the rest of the clothes that it's in the wash with. This is reason enough to hand-wash your undies. Start by using some sort of antibacterial fabric spray on your underwear (if you'd prefer to go the DIY route, there's a great recipe here). Spray your panties with it (especially the crotch area) and let it penetrate for five minutes or so.

Then, soak your underwear in really hot water. Once the water is a comfortable enough temperature for you to touch it, wash your panties in some fragrance-free detergent and rinse thoroughly in warm water when you're done. All of this will help to get rid of infection-causing bacteria without irritating your vagina in the process. (By the way, if you want to "super sterilize" your panties, you can always iron the crotch on low heat once they are clean and dry.)

4. Also, Keep Some Fragrance-Free Wipes in Your Bag

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Whether it's because you use a menstrual cup or you simply want to freshen up throughout the day when you're not at home, it can never hurt to keep some fragrance-free wipes around. They are oftentimes better at thoroughly cleansing your vagina without removing any of the natural moisture that it needs. Just make sure that they are fragrance-free. Otherwise, the wipes could upset your vagina's pH balance and lead to a vaginal infection up the road.

5. Make Yourself a Monthly Period Basket

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There are two ways to look at your menstrual cycle—like something that you should dread every month or something that you can use as a time to pamper yourself. My recommendation is to go with Door #2. Stay with going to a local arts and crafts store to pick up a basket (one that you would use to make someone else a gift basket) along with some cellophane and a bow. Then, on a monthly basis, put things into it like—chamomile tea (it soothes abdominal discomfort) and/or raspberry leaf tea (it reduces uterine contractions); dark chocolate (the potassium eases cramps); clove essential oil (it reduces excessive pain and bleeding); avocados, pears, berries, bananas and popcorn (fibrous foods reduce bloating); turmeric powder (it's a natural painkiller); a bottle of sparkling water (the more hydrated you are, the less blood clots and backaches you'll have); a magnesium supplement (it'll ease your uterine muscles while giving you more energy); a favorite snack (it'll comfort you); some fresh flowers (just because); a DIY lavender spray for your bedding (to help you sleep more soundly. You can check out an easy-to-make recipe here), and a fresh pair of period panties (Thinx's Hiphugger Period Panties are currently all the rage). Knowing that there is something special awaiting you can definitely make you feel better about, well, the inevitable (your period, chile).

6. Install a Bidet (or a Bidet Toilet Seat Attachment)

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Talk about pampering. There used to be a time when, if the topic of bidets came up, we'd assume the person who had one was rich. I get why too because the cost of one combined with the installation fee tends is oftentimes somewhere between $1000-1500 (on average). That doesn't mean it's not worth every penny, though, because bidets are able to keep your vaginal area, your butt and your hands cleaner (which reduces the spread of urine, fecal matter and bacteria overall). Another benefit to them is they can significantly reduce your chances of having hemorrhoids while also helping to keep you from getting bacterial vaginosis. Plus, since bidets eliminate the need for toilet paper, they are good for the environment too.

If money is tight and you can't afford to install a bidet right now, the next best thing is to invest in a bidet toilet seat attachment. It's basically a sprayer that you can use as a "handy" bidet. The Spruce has a list of some fairly affordable ones. You can check 'em out here.

7. Soak in Some Apple Cider Vinegar

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We honestly could write an entire article on what makes apple cider vinegar so dope. When it comes to the topic at hand—pampering your vagina—it's great because it's able to keep the pH level of your vagina (which needs to be somewhere between 3.8-4.5) in balance. That's why it's good to soak in if you've got a yeast infection or something to do once a week for mere "upkeep" purposes. The powerfully potent antiseptic and antibacterial properties can soothe inflamed skin, reduce vaginal odor and cleanse your vagina without irritating it in the process.

All you need to do is get some apple cider vinegar (make sure it contains the mother; the mother makes it unrefined and unfiltered). As you're running your bathwater, pour one cup (two cups if you've got a yeast infection or BV) of the vinegar into it and soak for 20 minutes or so. While you're soaking, definitely make sure to avoid bubble baths that contain lots of chemicals. If you want a few bubbles to create a certain mood, combine a half cup of distilled water with a half-cup of castile soap, one-fourth cup of vegetable glycerin and 15 drops of your favorite essential oil. Pour it under running water and you'll be all set.

8. Try a Little Fur Oil

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If you're someone who, when it comes to "landscaping" down below, you prefer to shave and yet you haven't found a way to prevent ingrown hairs (remember not to shave against the grain; doing so can definitely cause them), you might want to pamper your vagina with a little bit of Fur Oil. It's an oil that's specifically made for pubic hair that contains ingredients like grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, clary sage and tea tree oil. Aside from helping to prevent ingrown hairs and soothe the ones that you already may have, this oil also has a great reputation for making pubic hair feel really soft. I won't lie to you, there ain't nothin' cheap about it (it's currently $46 for a couple of ounces). Still, the reviews are pretty spectacular and, at the very least, this might inspire you to cop a couple of the ingredients I mentioned and make some conditioning oil of your own (heads up, you can probably find it on other sites for a little less too).

Oh, I almost forgot. If you wouldn't dream of spending this much money on some vaginal oil, a hack that can help to keep your vagina—well, your vulva since it's the outer part of that area—from feeling itchy and irritated after shaving is to rub some fragrance-free deodorant onto it right after you shave. It has a way of soothing and bringing (semi) instant relief too.

9. Make Sure the Condoms Are “Super Vagina-Friendly”

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Unless you are in an exclusive long-term relationship where you both get tested and you're on some form of reliable birth control (unless, of course, you want to conceive a child), when it comes to sex, there's no way around the fact that condoms are the way to go. However, have you ever thought about if the ones that you've been using are super vagina-friendly or not?

The reality is that a lot of rubbers contain chemicals like casein (which can throw off our hormonal balance); glycerin (which contains sugar and can sometimes feed yeast); benzocaine (which can trigger vaginal inflammation and dryness) and, nonoxynol 9 (which can inflame your cervix, vagina and rectum). All of this is, yeah…not good.

I know you're probably not used to reading condom labels; however, now you see why it's a good thing to do. As far as condoms that are good for your va-jay-jay, Lelo Hex is one brand you might want to look into (it's made out of natural latex and has a silicone lubricant in it). Lovability is a natural latex rubber that is hypoallergenic and gets a lot of praise too.

10. Wear a Clit Clip

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One more. I know some people who got their clitoris (or clitoral hood) pierced before. And while they can personally vouch for the fact that it has made their clitoris more sensitive to the touch in some of the best ways possible, they've also said that the piercing process itself is not even close to being a walk in the park. That said, you're not a big fan of pain yet you would like to "dress up" your clitoris from time to time, there are clit clips that you can wear that require absolutely no piercing at all. Two that I thought were kinda cute are on Etsy's site (here and here). I mean, we are talking about pampering, right? Why not doll "her" up a bit once you've done everything else on this list? Look at it as the vaginal pampering 2.0 way to go.

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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