Last fall, I wrote an article entitled, "Did You Know There's A Right & A Wrong Way To Take A Bath?" The objective was not to be out here assuming that grown ass women don't know how to clean themselves. It's just that, sometimes it's the little things that we do—or don't do—that can actually cause bigger problems along the way when it comes to cleanliness and overall hygiene.
That's why I thought it would also be a good idea to touch on how important it is to make sure that we're all taking care of, what I oftentimes encourage my love nieces to call, their "treasure box". Because, the reality is, while a lot of us find ourselves having a super sensitive vagina or even an infection that we can't get to the root cause of, many times it was triggered by the fact that, while we meant well, we simply weren't cleaning our va-jay-jay as properly as we should have. So, in the effort to keep you and "yours" clean and comfortable, here are some washing tips to always keep in mind.
Remember: Your Vagina and Vulva Are Two Different Things
Yeeeeeah. I have no idea who started the whole notion that the word "vagina" speaks for everything that is going on when it comes to our genitalia area because, technically, that isn't right. Our vagina is actually the muscular inner tube that starts at the end of our vulva and extends all the way up to our cervix (which is right in front of our uterus). Meanwhile, our vulva is the external part of our genitalia. It consists of our clitoris, our labia majora (the outside of our lips) and labia minora (the inside of our lips), along with our vestibule (the opening of our vagina) and our urethral meatus (which is the opening of our urethra, because you know that we pee out of a different hole…right?). And, when it comes to washing our lower region, it's not the vagina that needs to be cleaned; it's our vulva (and only parts of it). This brings me to my next point.
Your Vagina Is Totally Self-Cleaning
You might've heard that your vagina is self-cleaning and that is absolutely true. The reason why I'm being intentional about reiterating this point is because there still seem to be way too many people who are consumed with douching and steaming their va-jay-jay when their vagina doesn't need any of that.
When discharge is healthy, it's designed to carry out the dead cells and bacteria that may be inside of your vagina. So, when you do things like douche or steam, not only can that throw the pH balance of your vagina off (which can lead to a killer yeast infection), but steaming could result in literally burning your vagina (one woman actually got second-degree burns from vaginal steaming) too.
And how do you know if your discharge is leaning towards the unhealthy side? For starters, if it's clear, white or off-white and you're noticing about 1-2 teaspoons of it coming out a day, you should be all set. Another sign is if your discharge isn't clumpy, itching and/or irritating. If anything is contrary to what I just said, don't assume that some Summer's Eve or a vaginal steam session is gonna clear things up. It's much smarter to make an appointment with your physician, so that they can diagnose what is really going on with you. It could be a yeast infection. It could be a bout of bacterial vaginosis. It could be that a new sex partner has altered your pH balance. It could be an STD. The only way you're gonna know for sure is if a professional tells you what's up. Let them.
How Do You Wash Your Vulva, Anyway?
Now when it comes to actually cleaning your vulva, since it isn't self-cleaning like your vagina is yes, you should wash it. But here's the thing—you still don't actually have to use soap. Our vulva area is pretty sensitive, so soaking in the tub or washing with a clean washcloth with warm water can do your vulva good more than you would probably think. But if you absolutely cannot imagine keeping soap away from your outer and inner lips, make sure that you go with the kind of soap that is mild and unscented. It's also important that you swap out your washcloth, every 3-4th wash and that you gently open up the folds of your vulva so that you can get into the crevices of the outer part of that part of your genitalia. Also, just like when you wipe after using the bathroom, make sure that you go from front to back while cleansing your vulva. Just like going the opposite direction can lead to irritation or a mild infection when you wipe, the same thing can happen when you wash.
As far as your anus goes, believe it or not, there are soaps out in the universe that are specifically for it; the kind that will clean your anal area without drying it out. One is Honest's Soothing Bottom Wash. Another comes in a spray form; it's by Indigo Wild and it's called Zum Bum.
Leave Feminine Sprays and Washes Alone
Whatever you do—and this really can't be stated enough—please leave all of the feminine sprays and washes completely alone.
First of all, your vagina wasn't created to smell like a rose garden or a candy store. In fact, men are naturally drawn to the scent that your va-jay-jay naturally creates. Secondly, just like scented soaps can piss your vulva off, so can all of those vaginal products that promise to make you feel "fresher". And third, there are certain chemicals that are in a lot of commercial products that could prove to be harmful to your vulva and/or vagina if you consistently use them over time.
So, what if you want to add a little "extra" to your vulva area? I actually wrote an article a while back that features some DIY vaginal wash recipes (you can check it out here). Beyond that, adding 1-2 drops of lavender oil per every ¾ cup of coconut oil can be a nice moisturizer for the mound of your vulva (the top part where most of your pubic hair is…or would be) and inner thighs. Not only does it smell amazing, but both lavender and coconut oil contain antifungal properties too. Avoid putting the oil near your vaginal opening, though. Lavender oil is pretty potent; it is prone to cause a significant amount of stinging if applied internally.
If There’s a (Strange) Odor, Again, See Your Doctor
Depending on your diet, the time of month that it is for your cycle, when you last had sex and the way that you're made up, your vagina (I'm saying that because it's mostly the discharge that creates whatever scent your genitalia's got) is going to range in smell from lightly sweet to slightly sour to maybe even a little coppery (some guys even describe the taste of vaginas as being the hint of a penny). All of this is fine and perfectly normal. When you should be concerned is if your vagina has a strong fishy, ammonia or rotten (unless you're on your cycle and it's been a minute since you've changed your pad or tampon) scent and/or it's so pungent that people around you can smell you. If that is the case, nothing in this article is going to keep the power of that type of odor away. Something is "off". You need to see your doctor.
Welp. That's what I've got for y'all on this topic. Nothing earth-shattering but hopefully relevant enough to keep your vagina's pH right, your vulva fresh and you feeling confident about them both. Amen? Amen, chile.
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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.
We all have a dream life that we spend our free time daydreaming about. You know, the one with a loving partner, high-rise apartment, thriving career, and endless abundance. But as much as we can dream about it, there has to be a little extra sprinkle of “magic” to make it become a reality, and that’s when manifestation comes in.
The uptick in manifestation techniques is nothing new to the internet. Since The Secret and the Law of Attraction became available on YouTube in the early 2010s and fast forward to today, where #manifestationtok and #spiritualtok surging in popularity, it’s clear that there are a number of different ways to get what you want out of life with the right action, affirmation, and visualization.
Still, with so many ways to manifest, from scripting to the 3-6-9 Method, it can be hard to know which one to lean into. But there’s one new technique that’s promising to yield “instant results,” and we’re curious about it.
The "I Am Sure" Manifestation
Replying to @A I M E E 🖤 lG: hothighpriestess 🤍 this is the “I am sure” method #iamsuremethod
The “I Am Sure” manifestation gained traction this summer by TikTok creator Sara Perl of @hothighpriestess, who initially introduced the method.
In her original video breaking down the concept, she detailed the steps to use the technique for those looking to “manifest overnight.” To do so, start by stating “I am sure,” followed by “your desired manifestation in the present tense.” If there’s a job, promotion, or text from a crush that you want, then you’d say, “I am sure that I got X job,” or “I am sure that I make a $100K salary.” Repeat this out loud 10 times, or for faster results, write them down on a piece of paper and say it back to yourself whenever the desire comes up.
Using your words and speaking in the present tense, affirmatively, “puts you in the frequency that has that desire,” as Perl states. “We know our thoughts create our reality, but our words create our reality even faster.”
No matter how you choose to manifest your dream life, there’s nothing like channeling a powerful affirmation and some faith to get what you desire. In every instance, though, allow yourself to dismiss any doubt that may try to cloud your hopes in good things coming into your life, and don’t hold too tightly onto the “how” or “when.” Trust the process and know that the “thing” that you desire is just waiting for the perfect time to enter your life.
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