Are you familiar with BV? For those of you who don't know, BV, or bacterial vaginosis, is a common vaginal infection that accounts for more than three million cases a year. It occurs when there is a bacterial imbalance within the vagina between helpful good bacteria and harmful bad bacteria. Symptoms include itching, pain, and a foul smelling fishy discharge. If it reoccurs more than four times a year, it receives the apt title of chronic, or recurrent bacterial vaginosis.
While it is more common in women that are sexually active, it is not a sexually transmitted disease and can happen as a result of anything that disrupts the balance of bacteria in your vagina, i.e. douching, dieting, and using some feminine care products.
For the better half (read: worse half) of my adult life, BV made her appearance both known and felt in my life, especially in my sex life. My pH balance was all the way off. As a result, any given month, I remember dreading the six to seven days of my period coming and going, and what it'd leave in its wake. The metallic smell of blood, I could take. But the fishy aroma that would immediately appear in its absence was hella embarrassing.
BV was the bane of my existence and the fact that it seemed to come back just as quickly as it seemed to leave, made me think that something was wrong with me. Because, wasn't it?
My gynecologist thought so too. I would soon come to dread stripping from the waist down to put my feet into stirrups and be examined for the very thing I knew it was, just to do the same song and dance of a 7-day twice a day antibiotic treatment, followed by one to two doses of metronidazole for the yeast infection the antibiotics created.
Mostly, I dreaded it because it always felt like a temporary solution, and never the cure that would be the remedy to my recurring BV forever.
Ultimately, I didn't think that relying on antibiotics as a solution was beneficial and surprisingly, I was right. After a year or two of tried and untrue methods, I spoke with a holistic gynecologist that changed my perspective and understanding of vaginal health for the better. You can avoid certain health issues if you start at the root and begin within. Thus, I decided to work on what I put inside of my body and for the most part, allowed my vagina to do her own thing.
As a result, I can happily say that I haven't been BV-free ever since. (Knock on wood). Peep the 6 essentials below to learn how to curb BV and bacterial imbalances in a holistic way and thus, your pH balance on fleek.
(Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor. The suggestions below are in no way to replace the expertise of a medical doctor, however these methods work for me. )
Get Your Water Intake Looking Right
I've gone from the girl who barely drank two glasses of water a day, to the woman that does three liters a day. Eventually, I hope to get to a whole gallon, but Rome wasn't built in a day. The recommended intake for women is two liters, which is half a gallon. That increases depending on how active you are, and other beverages you drink throughout your day. For example, for every cup of coffee, soda, or juice, try to follow up with a glass of water.
Start with a liter a day, and when that comes naturally, increase it to two liters. The important thing is to begin somewhere. Over time, drinking your recommended daily water intake is going to be the equivalent of breathing – just that easy.
Downloading a water app like my personal favorite, Waterlogged, will help you keep track of how much water you're consuming on any given day and will help you keep up with your goals.
Take A Shot Of Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar doesn't include The Mother for no reason. The all-in-one vinegar can be used to remedy a lot of things, including sore throats, varicose veins, hyperpigmentation, dandruff, high blood pressure, weight issues, etc. Luckily for us, it can also assist with maintaining the body's pH.
Drink 1-2 shots of apple cider vinegar at the start of your day – be sure to dilute it with some water first. Likewise, you can take an ACV bath with some hot water and Apple Cider Vinegar. Soak for half an hour and consider yourself, balanced. Repeat the remedy up to three times a week.
Incorporate Fermented Foods & Drinks
In addition to fruits and veggies, adapt to a cleaner diet. Cook more, eat out less. Limit the junk food and reach for something healthy. Nowadays, I have decreased a lot of the sugar that I used to consume. I've learned that you can get your sugar tooth fix in other healthier ways, like the sugar from fruit. One of my favorite fruit indulgences lately are acai smoothie bowls. In addition to that, it's important to incorporate fermented foods and drinks into your daily diet.
Fermented foods and drinks include fermentation of bacteria strains that promote a healthy pH balance, which can do wonders for optimal vaginal care. Examples of fermented foods and drinks include:
Implement A Daily Probiotic Supplement
If you find it difficult to have kimchi, yogurt, or kombucha on the regular, investing in a probiotic supplement to take daily will allow you to get the probiotics that you need without relying too heavily on a diet that might be inconsistent at times. It's always recommended to get your nutrients or benefits from food sources first, but if you can't, that's where probiotics supplements come into play.
Probiotics promotes better gut health, which in turn helps with your pH balance in addition to a wealth of other benefits like preventing and treating UTIs, improving digestion, and boosting your immune system.
Recommended: Dr. Formulated Probiotics Once Daily
Choose Feminine Care Products Wisely
Cleanliness is next to godliness, but the great thing about a vagina is that she is naturally self-cleaning. You don't have to do all this extra stuff to clean her. Use a gentle wash externally, make sure it's completely dry before putting clothes on, and keep it moving. The sprays, the feminine washes, etc can mask themselves as feminine care products, but those products actually tend to be loaded with chemicals and parabens that irritate the vagina and throw off its natural balance.
If you feel like having a spray or a vagina-specific wash is necessary, stick to products with natural ingredients and remember the motto: the less fragrance, the better. The wash below is 100% natural and organic with a list of ingredients I can actually understand – extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, sea buckthorn oil, and beeswax. It's fairly odorless but still cleansing and moisturizing.
Recommended: Medicine Mama's Vmagic Feminine Wash
Treat BV with Boric Acid Suppositories
I know, I know the words "acid" and "suppositories" do not bring the best imagery to mind, but I promise you your vaginal health will love you for this addition to your self-care routine. Initially, I believed that it could only be used during an infection, but was told by my gyno to consider adding it to my routine on Sundays for maintenance. As it turns out, boric acid has been used to treat vaginal infections like candida and BV for hundreds of years. And since I added it to my lifestyle as a means of self-care, keeping up with it is easy.
I just simply insert it with a disposable applicator, and put on a pantyliner for the night, and call it a day. It's been a beautiful and seemingly effortless way to maintain my pH balance and restore the glory of my vaginal health.
Recommended:NutraBlast Boric Acid Vaginal Suppositories
Your vagina isn't designed to smell like roses, but it isn't designed to smell like a fish market either. Luckily, by switching up your lifestyle in exchange for some of the aforementioned holistic health habits, your vagina will be feeling and smelling better than ever. No infection zone.
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Originally published on December 17, 2017
Featured image by Shutterstock
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Chief Mom Officer: 23 Quotes From Working Moms Finding Their Balance
The truth is, Black moms create magic every single day. Whether we're juggling motherhood with a busy 9-5, a thriving business, or staying at home to run a household, no day is short of amazing when you're managing life as a mommy. This Mother's Day, xoNecole is giving flowers to CMOs (Chief Mom Officers) in business who exemplify the strength it takes to balance work with motherhood.
We've commissioned these ladies, who are pillars in their respective industries, for tidbits of advice to get you through the best and worst days of mothering. Here, they share their "secret sauce" and advice for other moms trying to find their rhythm.
Emmelie De La Cruz, Chief Strategist at One Day CMO
"My mom friends and I all laugh and agree: Motherhood is the ghettoest thing you will ever do. It's beautiful and hard all at the same time, but one day you will wake up and feel like 'I got this' and you will get the hang of it. After 4 months, I finally felt like I found my footing to keep my kid and myself alive, but it took vulnerability to take off the cape and be honest about the areas that I didn't have it all together. The healing (physically and emotionally) truly does happen in community - whatever and whoever that looks like for you."
Alizè V. Garcia, Director Of Social & Community Impact at Nike
"I would tell a new mom or a prospective mother that they must give themselves grace, understand and remember there is no right way to do this thing and have fun! When I had my daughter three and a half years ago, I was petrified! I truly had no clue about what to do and how I was going to do it. But with time, my confidence grew and I realized quickly that I have all the tools I need to be the mother I want to be."
Nikki Osei-Barrett, Publicist + Co-Founder of The Momference
"There's no balance. I'm dropping sh*t everywhere! However, my secret sauce is pursuing interests and hobbies outside of what's required of me and finding time to workout. Stronger body equals = stronger mind."
Lauren Grove, Chief Experience Architect, The Grant Access, LLC
"I try to give myself grace. That’s my mantra for this phase of motherhood…grace. I won’t be able to get everything done. To have a spotless house. To not lose my cool after an exhausting day. Those things can’t happen all of the time. But I can take a deep breath and know tomorrow is another day and my blessings are more plentiful than my pitfalls."
Rachel Nicks, Founder & CEO of Birth Queen
"You have the answers within you. Don’t compare yourself to others. Curate your life to work for you. Ask for help."
Tanisha Colon-Bibb, Founder + CEO Rebelle Agency + Rebelle Management
"I know love doesn't pay bills but when I am overwhelmed with work or client demands I take a moment to play with my baby and be reminded of the love, energy, science, and Godliness that went into his birth. I am brightened by his smile and laugh. I remember I am someone's parent and not just a work horse. That at the end of the day everything will work out for the good of my sanity and the love within my life."
Christina Brown, Founder of LoveBrownSugar & BabyBrownSugar
"Learning your rhythm as a mom takes time and can be uncomfortable when you’re in a season of overwhelm. Constantly check in with yourself and assess what’s working and what’s not. Get the help you need without feeling guilty or ashamed of needing it."
Mecca Tartt, Executive Director of Startup Runway Foundation
"I want to be the best for myself, my husband, children and company. However, the reality is you can have it all but not at the same time. My secret sauce is outsourcing and realizing that it’s okay to have help in order for me to perform at the highest level."
Jen Hayes Lee, Head Of Marketing at The Bump (The Knot Worldwide)
"My secret sauce is being direct and honest with everyone around me about what I need to be successful in all of my various "jobs". Setting boundaries is one thing, but if you're the only one who knows they exist, your partners at home and on the job can't help you maintain them. I also talk to my kids like adults and let them know why mommy needs to go to this conference or get this massage...they need to build an appreciation for my needs too!"
Whitney Gayle-Benta, Chief Music Officer JKBX
"What helps me push through each day is the motivation to continue by thinking about my son. All my efforts, though exhausting, are to create a wonderful life for him."
Ezinne Okoro, Global Chief Inclusion, Equity, & Diversity Officer at Wunderman Thompson,
"The advice I received that I’ll pass on is, you will continue to figure it out and find your rhythm as your child grows into new stages. Trust your nurturing intuition, parent on your terms, and listen to your child."
Jovian Zayne, CEO of The OnPurpose Movement
"I live by the personal mantra: 'You can’t be your best self by yourself.' My life feels more balanced when I offer the help I can give and ask for the help I need. This might mean outsourcing housecleaning for my home, or hiring additional project management support for my business."
Simona Noce Wright, Co-Founder of District Motherhued and The Momference
"Each season of motherhood (depending on age, grade, workload) requires a different rhythm. With that said, be open to learning, to change, and understand that what worked for one season may not work the other...and that's okay."
Janaye Ingram, Director of Community Partner Programs and Engagement at Airbnb
"My daughter's smile and sweet spirit help me to feel gratitude when I'm overwhelmed. I want her to see a woman who doesn't quit when things get hard."
Codie Elaine Oliver, CEO & Founder of Black Love
"I try to listen to my body and simply take a break. With 3 kids and a business with 10+ team members, I often feel overwhelmed. I remind myself that I deserve grace for everything I'm juggling, I take a walk or have a snack or even head home to see my kids, and then I get back to whatever I need to get done."
Jewel Burks Solomon, Managing Partner at Collab Capital
"Get comfortable with the word ‘no’. Be very clear about your non-negotiables and communicate them to those around you."
Bridget Bogee, Marketing Lead At Meta
"Ask for help and always prioritize making time for you."
Julee Wilson, Executive Director at BeautyUnited and Beauty Editor-at-Large at Cosmopolitan
"Understand you can’t do it alone — and that’s ok. Relinquish the need to control everything. Create a village and lean on them."
Salwa Benyaich, Director Of Pricing and Planning at Premion
"Most days I really try to shut my computer off by 6 pm; there are always exceptions of course when it comes to big deals or larger projects but having this as a baseline allows me to be much more present with my kids. I love the fact that I can either help with homework or be the designated driver to at least one afterschool activity. Work can be draining but there is nothing more emotionally draining than when you feel as though you are missing out on moments with your kids."
Brooke Ellis, Head of Global Marketing & Product Launches at Amazon Music
My calendar, prayer, pilates class at Forma, a good playlist, and oatmilk lattes all help get me through any day.
Courtney Beauzile, Global Director of Client and Business Development at Shearman & Sterling
My husband is a partner who steps in when I just can’t. My mom and my MIL come through whenever and however I need. My kids have many uncles and aunts and they will lend an ear, go over homework, teach life lessons, be a presence or a prayer warrior depending on the day.
Robin Snipes, Chief of Staff at Meta
"Enjoy the time you have to yourself because once kids come those times will be few and far between."
Monique Bivens, CEO & Founder at Brazilian Babes LLC.
"For new moms, it is very important that you get back into a habit or routine of something you use to do before you were pregnant. Consider the actives and things that give you the most joy and make the time to do them."
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Viola Davis On Beauty Standards Changing In Hollywood: 'We Are Beyond Male Desirability'
Actress Viola Davis is shedding light on beauty standards and how it has transformed throughout the years.
The 57-year-old has touched on this topic numerous times throughout her career, which spans over three decades. In the past, Davis revealed that she felt inadequate because of her physical appearance due to constantly being told she wasn't beautiful or enough.
Since then, the EGOT winner has overcome those insecurities and used her platform to share a positive message to those who need them. In a recent interview withPEOPLE magazine while attending the 76th annual Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, Davis shared that the shift is because many now know that beauty is "beyond male desirability."
Viola On Beauty Standards
During the discussion, the How To Get Away with Murder star also mentioned that another factor contributing to the transformation is that people associate beauty with mental health, which she claimed inspired her partnership with makeup brand L'Oreal.
"I think beauty standards have changed. I think that what's shifted is that whole idea of mental health being associated with beauty [and] of understanding who we are beyond male desirability. It's really a huge part of why I decided to become a part of L'Oreal, that whole statement of 'I'm worth it,'" she said.
Further in the interview, Davis recounted her past experiences of being told she wasn't beautiful and mentioned how it destroyed her because, growing up, she knew that beauty was tied to worthiness.
"What destroyed me was people constantly telling me that I was not beautiful. [You might think] why would you be upset with that? Because beauty is attached with worth and value. And I refuse to believe that I'm not worth it just based on a sort of idea and perception of what people think classical beauty is," she stated.
The Woman King star added that since the shift in beauty standards, women are now being "encouraged to speak their truth a little bit more" in certain situations such as one's goals, sexual assault, mental illness, etc. With that, Davis explained that people are now seeing the beauty within others and applauding them for it.
"Now women are encouraged to speak their truth a little bit more. We see that with sexual assault, with mental illness, with being burnt-out mamas, with following our dreams and our hopes that we have for our lives," she said.
"Back in the day, we hid our pain behind perfectly applied lipstick and wax floors. Now we don't do that anymore. We're saying this is who we are, beyond the makeup and the hair. I see that. I see that with my daughter's generation."
Viola On The Message She Shares With Her Daughter
As the conversation shifted to the advice Davis gives her teenage daughter Genesis Tennon --whom she with her husband, Julius Tennon-- when it comes to beauty, the star disclosed that she motivates Tennon to become the "love" of her own life.
Davis said she shared these sentiments because she wants Tennon to advocate for herself in various situations when others disappoint her and cross her boundaries.
"I told my daughter this morning that she has to have a love affair with herself. That she is indeed the love of her life. I said, 'I love you, but it's not me, it's not some boy. At the end of the day, you can't disappoint yourself. You have to advocate for yourself," she stated. "You have to show up for her.' And it's not just spa treatments and a glass of wine. It's in showing up when someone hurts you. Creating boundaries and when someone crosses it."
Davis wrapped up her remarks by saying she spread positive messages like this to Tennon and the world because she was not "taught" that loving oneself meant being one's supporter.
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