Recently, someone wrote me to ask one specific question: "How is it that you can keep finding content on vaginas to write about?" Heck, if I know, chile. For one thing, they fascinate me. They just do. Plus, I figure that since our vaginas are a part of us and everything from head to toe makes us special, it's important that we have as much information as possible when it comes to learning how to properly care for our genital region. And since we are well into the summer season and it's hot as all get out, there's no time like the present to bring up a few tips that can keep "her" cool, calm and honestly, drier.
Let's get to it. Here are 12 tips that can keep your vagina in great shape, no matter what you and "her" plan on doing from now through Labor Day (well technically, September 22, which is when the summer season ends this year).
1. Go Commando
Hopefully, you're already sleeping naked more times than not since it decreases stress, helps to keep your skin healthy and can even boost your self-confidence levels. Something else that going to bed with nothing else on does is promote vaginal health. The reason why is because since our vaginas are naturally full of moisture and there is a certain amount of yeast that's inside of them, we have to be careful that we don't allow things to get too wet or it could cause the yeast to multiply which could lead to a pretty nasty yeast infection.
You see where I'm going with this, right? When it's hot, we sweat. When we sweat, it gets really wet down below. That's why, it really is OK — encouraged even — to go commando sometimes, even when you're out of the house. And what if you just can't imagine doing that? That's where the next point comes in.
2. Or Get Some Moisture-Wicking Undies
If for you, wearing underwear is an absolute must, invest in some moisture-wicking panties. These are the kind of undies that are made out of the type of fabric that actually pulls moisture away from your body instead of absorbing it. As a direct result, moisture is able to evaporate easier and quicker so that you don't feel wet all throughout the day.
If you'd like to check out some reviews on top moisture-wicking underwear that's currently on the market, First for Women has 11 of 'em that you can check out here. If you'd prefer to go a bit of the cheaper route, cotton (especially organic cotton) panties are a classic breathable fabric that works.
Oh, and if you're a thong kind of person, definitely avoid the ones that are made out of nylon, polyester or lace. If any kind of panty needs to breathe, it's a thong, so go with cotton or bamboo fabric, and definitely don't sleep in them if you've been wearing them all day long.
3. Make Your Own Vaginal Wash
I'm thinking that this probably goes without saying, but just for safe measure, there is no reason for you to wash your actual vagina (the canal/tube that runs from your vulva up to the entry of your uterus which is your cervix); it is self-cleaning which is why douching is an absolute no-no (the ingredients in douches tend to through your vagina's pH levels off balance). And while some health experts say that your vulva (the outer part of your vagina) only needs water to keep it clean, if you're like me and you want some extra back-up, it really is best to make your own vaginal wash. The reason why is because a lot of soaps are way too harsh and some body washes have too many chemicals in them.
If you agree yet don't feel like doing all of the work to make your own cleanser, Black-owned companies like Pangea sell vaginal washes that are pretty good (I've tried it before). Sites like Etsy carry all-natural homemade body washes too. Still, if you'd prefer to go about it yourself and all you need is a recipe, I've got you. Check out "Love On Yourself With These 7 All-Natural DIY Vaginal Washes" that I wrote for the site a couple of years back. It will help to keep your va-jay-jay smelling and feeling fresh all summer long.
4. Up Your Vitamin C and Probiotics
Keeping your vagina in great shape means that you've got to stay on top of your immune system. One way to do that is to make sure that you get plenty of Vitamin C and probiotics in your body. Vitamin C is good for your genital region for a few reasons. It's high in antioxidants which can fight off free radicals and viruses. It contains micronutrients that can help to flush out harmful bacteria. It also helps to increase the acidic levels of your vagina, so that health issues like bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections are less of a concern.
As far as probiotics go, there is such a thing as "good bacteria" and "bad bacteria". Probiotics are loaded with the good kind which is a good thing because they can help to balance the yeast in your vagina, so that the bad bacteria doesn't grow to the point of giving you a yeast infection.
Foods that are high in Vitamin C include citrus fruit, berries, broccoli, potatoes, bell peppers, dark leafy greens and kiwi. Foods that are high in probiotics include fermented foods such as (sour) pickles, sauerkraut, yogurt, miso soup, sourdough bread, kefir and kombucha. There are also supplements for both that you can take. If you want to take a probiotic one, Garden of Life Raw Probiotics Vaginal Care contains 50 billion CFU (colony forming units ) and 38 different strains of probiotics which is pretty darn impressive.
5. Make a Lemongrass and Sweet Almond Oil Ointment
What if you're concerned about vaginal odor? Well, first let me say that if your vagina has an ever-so-mild musky or tangy scent to it, that is pretty normal. If it smells a little like a copper penny, especially around your cycle, that's typically not a big deal. Some vaginas smell sweet; also, no cause for alarm. It's only when it gets into the strong ammonia or fishy arenas that you should be concerned and make an appointment to see your doctor. Still, if sweat seems to make your vaginal region smell a little stronger than you would like, while you should leave your actual vagina alone, you can make a topical ointment for your vulva area out of lemongrass essential oil and sweet almond oil.
Lemongrass is dope because it has a citrus scent (perfect for the summer season), along with antifungal and antibacterial properties that help to fight off the fungus that causes yeast infections. Sweet almond oil is cool because it's a great carrier oil and has a way of soothing your vaginal walls. One-third cup of oil with 3-5 drops of lemongrass added to it and applied to your vulva area only, should do the trick.
6. Try a Little Bit of Vaginal Ice Application Therapy
If you tend to be more active during the summer seasons and all of that exercising, cycling, hiking and whatever else you're doing has your vaginal tissues feeling tender, inflamed, itchy or irritated, something that you might want to try is a little bit of what is called vaginal ice therapy. All it consists of is applying some ice to your vaginal region for 15-30 minute stints, an hour apart, a few times a day. It's a method that can provide instant relief while taking some of the swelling down. If you'd like to try this but would prefer an alternative to ice, you might want to test out Vagi-Kool Reusable Feminine Cold Pack. Just pop it into your freezer for 2-4 hours and it's ready for use.
7. If You Get Ingrown Hairs, Do More Waxing
Something that I make sure not to miss, every four weeks, is my wax appointment. The woman who holds me down in this lane was just telling me how she wished more Black women went the waxing rather than shaving route because it really does decrease the amount of ingrown hairs that we get — especially down below. This means less bumps and also less little dark marks that the bumps can sometimes create. So yeah, I'm all about encouraging waxing.
That said, if you'd still prefer to shave, make sure you invest in a really good razor, that you gently exfoliate the area you plan to shave (it loosens up the hairs), that you then soak in warm water for about 15 minutes (it helps to soften the outer layer of your skin and your hair follicles), that you apply some shaving cream (it moisturizes and helps to protect your skin from the razor) and that you DON'T go against the grain of your hair's growth. All of this can reduce your chances of razor bumps (although waxing really is so much better, y'all; plus, you don't have to wax as much because it pulls hair from the root).
8. Soak in Some Apple Cider Vinegar
When your vagina's pH levels (which should be around 4.0-4.5, although it might be higher if you are going through menopause or are post-menopause) are out of balance, that can trigger an infection and/or odor. Believe it or not, something that can keep this from being an issue is apple cider vinegar. That's because it contains properties that are great at keeping your vagina at the acidic level that it's supposed to be. That's why it can be a good idea to take a bath that has 1-2 cups of the vinegar (make sure it has "the mother" because that's the kind that is the most potent) in it. If you soak for 20-30 minutes, 1-2 times a week, it can keep your vagina healthy, all year round.
9. Try a Menstrual Cup
OK. I was late on the menstrual cup train (hate that because they are pretty awesome) and while I'm sold now, I must admit that I'm still a bit on the hunt for the perfect one. Nixit is a menstrual disc that is cool except it won't stay tucked behind my pubic bone (a YouTuber by the name of Vicky Logan has a great review that you can check out here). Merula XL holds a lot of blood but I need something with suction. Intimina is awesome because it's skinny like a tampon. June has suction and is cost-efficient (although it doesn't hold as much blood as others).
Anyway, I really could do an article on menstrual cups and discs at this point.
Bottom line here, though, is if you want to feel basically like you're not even on your period during the summer season, the right menstrual cup could very well be the answer to your prayers. So long as you get the right fit and dump out the blood every 8-12 hours, you can wear and do just about anything you want (including having sex) without worrying about any leaking or period blood smell. Plus, menstrual cups last for about 10 years.
They're awesome in every way.
10. Cop a Tube of Lumē
There's someone I know who, whether it was summer or winter, she pretty much always sweated through her underwear and ultimately her clothing. Sometimes, it would create an odor. Because we were pretty close, I knew it wasn't a personal hygiene issue. She simply sweated a lot and her sweat carried a stench. If you can personally relate and you've never been quite sure what to do, there is a product on the market called Lumē. It's an all-natural deodorant that is specifically designed for underarms and your genital region. Word on the street is it's a type of cream that can stop the smell of bacteria for around 72 hours. You can learn more about it here.
11. Or Apply Some Cornstarch
Speaking of absorbing wetness, something else that's super effective and pretty gentle on your vaginal region is cornstarch. Sprinkling a little bit of it onto the crotch part of your panties can help to keep the moisture in that area from drenching your panties; plus, it's so much safer than powder than has a talc base to it.
12. Don’t Stay in What You Swim in for (Too) Long
One more. If you plan on being at the pool or beach for the day, you should probably bring along some loose and breathable clothes to change into. Whether it's salt or chlorine water, that on top of the material that your swimsuit is made out of (usually polyester or nylon which doesn't "breathe" very well), on top your sweat, is definitely a breeding ground for a yeast infection to occur. So don't stay in dripping wet anything. Dry off and change. You'll feel better and your vagina will too — all summer long.
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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 email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masterdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masterdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masterdating All About?
Masterdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masterdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masterdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masterdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masterdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masterdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masterdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masterdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masterdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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