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'Vagina-Related Resolutions' That You Absolutely Should Be Making

This is the year to treat your vagina really right.

Women's Health

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it dozens of times. New Year’s Resolutions don’t really move me because, it is my personal belief that, if you really want to change your life, why are you relying on 1/1 to do it? Whatever shifts and pivots you want to make, do it now. RIGHT NOW. So, with that being out of the way, the title of this article, I must admit, is probably more clickbait than anything else. Because I think that we all can agree that our vagina deserves for us to be fully resolved, each and every day, to give it the TLC that it truly deserves. Whether it’s January, June or October…it needs to happen.

Still, if you’re someone who knows that, beyond daily bathing, you don’t really think of what your vagina needs from you in order to remain at its best, here are 10 strictly vagina-related resolutions that you should make…just as soon as you possibly can.

1. I Will Take a Daily Probiotic

Here’s the thing about your vagina — there is a lot of good bacteria inside of it and there can sometimes be quite a bit of bad bacteria in it too. When the bad outweighs the good, that can result in a yeast infection or a bout of bacterial vaginosis — and listen, if you’ve never had either before, count your lucky stars because it is nothing close to being a pleasant experience. What can help to prevent both of these from occurring is taking a daily probiotic. Not only do all of the good bacteria in probiotics help to protect your gut and vaginal health, but they can also stabilize the pH balance of your vagina too.

If you’ve never taken a probiotic before and you’re not sure where to start looking for the brand that is right for you, Medical News Today published “8 of the best probiotics for females” that can help you out. Also, foods that contain probiotics include fermented ones like dill pickles and kefir as well as mozzarella and cheddar cheeses (pickled veggies count as fermented foods too, by the way). My personal fave is the Lifeway Kefir brand. It basically tastes like drinking flavored yogurt.

2. I Will Get New Panties Every Six Months

Yeeeeeah, I’m willing to bet some pretty good money that you’ve got a few drawers that have had at least one birthday at this point. Let’s try and leave that in 2021, shall we? Because the reality is that, in order for your vagina to maintain optimal health, it’s best to get new panties every six months (check out “When Should You Replace Underwear, Make-Up, Bedding, Washcloths & Towels?”). Otherwise, fecal matter, germs, and other “stuff” could irritate your vagina and cause an infection. Also, make sure that a lot of your new stash is made out of (organic) cotton. Your vagina is naturally warm and moist (which is a good thing); your underwear needs to be made out of a fabric that will help “her” to “breathe” because of it.

3. I Will Use a Lavender Oil/Coconut Oil Blend to Reduce Bacterial Infections

When it comes to what you put into your vagina, it really needs to be nothing other than tampons and/or a menstrual cup, penises, and (as directed) sex toys. On the cleaning tip, NOTHING should go inside because your vagina is self-cleaning. That said, if you’re someone who has an irritated or itchy vulva (the outer part of your vagina), it can be soothing to apply a blend of lavender essential oil and coconut oil.

Lavender oil is great because its potent antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, along with its calming ability, can help to soothe inflamed vaginal tissues and even keep vaginitis and certain kinds of candida (which can lead to yeast infections) at bay. As far as coconut oil goes, the properties in it are ones that the strain of yeast Candida albicans absolutely can’t stand. So, adding a couple of drops of lavender oil to ¼ cup of coconut oil and rubbing it onto the OUTER PARTS (yes, I am yelling that; essential oils ain’t nothin’ to play with!) of your vagina can bring relief and keep it smelling great simultaneously.

4. I Will Consume More Plant Fatty Acids

A term that is interchangeable with plant fatty acids is omega-3 fatty acids. These are good for your vaginal and reproductive health overall because they help to increase blood circulation, can reduce the amount of menstrual cramping that you experience, and can help to prevent vaginal dryness (check out “Here's How To Increase Vaginal Lubrication. Naturally.”) too. Foods that are high in these kinds of acids include avocados, olives, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, Brussels sprouts, and kidney beans.

Or you can always take an omega-3 supplement. (Speaking of supplements for your vaginal well-being, I promise you something that has changed my entire life is evening primrose oil. One day, I might do an entire article that’s devoted to it. For now, you can read more about why it’s good for your vaginal and reproductive health here.)

5. I Will Eat Less Sugar

As far as your vagina goes, two ways that sugar can negatively impact your vagina is 1) it can trigger inflammation and 2) it gives bad bacteria and yeast something to “feed” off of. So, if you want to go into this year with fewer concerns as far as getting a yeast infection goes, definitely consume less sugar. It’s not only a good move as far as your vagina is concerned but a smart move all the way around (check out “Ever Wonder If You've Got A Low-Key Sugar Addiction?”).

6. I Will Take an Official Skin Test 

If you’re not in an exclusive relationship and/or you don’t want to get pregnant and/or you don’t want to use another form of birth control, condoms are the way to go — there’s no way around that. That said, if a part of the reason why they bother you so much is that they have a way of irritating your vagina, the first thing I recommend that you do is read “Allergic To Condoms? Try This.”

If after doing so, you suspect that an allergy to latex is exactly what you’ve got going on, the only way that you’re going to know for sure is if you take a skin test and you’ll need to go to the doctor for that. If that is indeed the case, don’t use that as an excuse to go all rogue. There are latex alternatives as you probably noticed via the article that I just cited. Use them.

7. I Will Groom My Pubic Hair Instead of Completely Removing It

Pubic hair doesn’t exist for no reason. It’s what helps to keep debris and other irritants from disturbing your vagina. That’s why it really is best to keep some down that way rather than removing it altogether. Now that doesn’t mean that you’ve gotta be looking like a 70s porn flick or anything. As someone who gets my bikini line waxed on a consistent basis, I am amazed by all of the creative things that can be done with pubes. Which reminds me — an article that can help to give you some inspiration is “Yep. Pubic Hair Has Trends (And Specific Needs) Too.” You’re welcome.

8. I Will Change My Underwear Twice a Day, If Need Be

Let’s be honest — the main purpose of underwear is to keep vaginal fluids 'n stuff from getting onto our clothes. That said, though, they serve a really vital purpose. Thing is, aside from the fact that a lot of people keep panties well past their shelf life, another mistake that folks make is thinking that they only need to wear one pair of undies, no matter what.

Here’s the thing about that — if you exercise, sweat a lot or you have times of the month when there is more discharge than normal, it’s perfectly OK (recommended even) that you change your panties twice a day. That way, your vagina can remain comfortable and dry and your chances of an infection or her feeling irritated will decrease, substantially so.

9. I Will Stay Away from the “Fancy Stuff” 

Again, your vagina is self-cleaning and honestly, the skin of your vulva tends to lean towards the sensitive side, so all of the commercial brands that simply try and get you to spend more money — avoid those bad boys. Water and super mild (unscented soap) can get the job done as far as cleaning your vagina is concerned. Or you can make your own vaginal wash (check out “Love On Yourself With These 7 All-Natural DIY Vaginal Washes”) or hop on sites like Etsy for companies that make all-natural washes. Go to the site and put “natural vaginal washes” in the search field.

10. I Will At Least Use a Menstrual Cup on the Last Day of My Period

This is definitely my own personal hack but chile, it works! If you’ve ever wondered why/if your period smells a bit like death, it’s because there is a combination of blood and bacteria (and even a little bit of uterine tissue) that’s coming out of your vagina. The bacteria can be a bit more concentrated towards the end of your cycle which can irritate your vagina and vulva for a couple of days following your period if you’re not careful.

The reason why I know all of this is because it used to happen to me. That is until I started using a menstrual cup and made sure that I wore it, even the day following the “official” last day of my period. Doing this catches the residual bacterial fluid which prevents my vagina and vulva from getting irritated.

It’s one of the best things I’ve discovered in a long time.

11. I Will Sleep Naked

It’s been quite some time since I’ve gone to bed with any clothes on (shoot, I work from home, so I’m barely dressed during the daytime hours too) and when it comes to my vagina, I can see how much she has benefitted from it. Because it’s not uncommon for heat and moisture to increase during nighttime hours (because of being under sheets and blankets and because our body temperature changes throughout the night), sleeping naked increases ventilation to your vaginal region, so that you decrease the chances of irritation and infection. If you haven’t been doing it, start now.

12. I Will Keep a Vagina Journal 

Making sure that your vagina has what it needs is a bit of a tightrope. That’s why I think it’s a good idea to keep a vagina journal. No, it’s not something that you need to write in every day; it’s just something to help you to keep track of when it comes to signs that your vagina may be stressed (check out “Ever Wonder If Your Vagina Is Stressed TF Out?”), how often you may be getting infections (so that you know when to use home remedies or so your doctor) and what may or may not be working as it relates to your vaginal care health regimen. Keeping up with your vagina’s needs can only help you to take care of her better.

Hey, she does a really good job of taking care of you (right?), so why not return the favor? Amen? Amen.

Featured image by Getty Images

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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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