For whatever reason, some women’s health issues get talked about a lot and others not so much. These are four topics that haven’t been discussed extensively, but probably need to be. All can help you become a healthier – and better-informed – woman.
1. Understand the basics of vaginal health.
Vaginal health is not really spoken about. Some think vaginal hygiene involves copious amounts of soap and perfumed potions. In reality, it doesn't require such extensive upkeep. It’s all in our pH, which should be acidic. We typically can rebalance it quickly, even with daily washing. Chronic, vigorous cleansing (particularly with soap) can alter the pH to a point that the environment may more readily invite the wrong sorts of bacteria. Ironically, an infection with such bacteria can cause an unpleasant odor, which we’re trying to avoid. Alternatively, when the local “good” bacteria is flushed away, yeast — a coinhabitant of our natural flora — can overproliferate, resulting in a squirm-inducing, cottage cheese-like discharge.
Every woman can attest to these sorts of experiences from time to time. If you find yourself constantly oscillating between antifungal creams and antibiotic prescriptions, with only brief periods of normalcy, consider observing your day-to-day hygiene practices more closely.
A few tips:
Keep it simple. Save your money on fancy concoctions claiming to balance your pH. Lukewarm water is all you really need.
Eat extra yogurt. Doing so can replenish lactobacilli, part of your natural flora.
Wear loose-fitting clothing. Tight clothing can absorb your protective biofilm more quickly and result in similar issues as overcleaning.
Try using condoms. Semen is also basic and can trigger a bacterial infection. Avoiding or minimizing exposure can help you maintain your normal environment.
2. Balance your hormones for game-changing results.
Nobody talks about testosterone. It is predominantly a male hormone, but it also is present in women. Our levels are significantly lower. If our testosterone levels were higher (but not to the extent of men), it could affect our ability to ovulate. It’s nature’s way of making the choice between having a sex drive or procreating, even though testosterone affects so much more than sex drive. It has been shown to improve cognitive functioning and memory. It can improve metabolism and facilitate lean muscle development. It can also help improve sleep, energy levels, emotional balance and joint pain. Better orgasms are just an added benefit.
Testosterone therapy can address symptoms that affect more women than those going through menopause. Women in their 30s can probably relate to these same concerns — you don’t have to wait for menopause to reap the benefits of treatment. If you are not actively trying to conceive or are done with child bearing, it’s okay and safe to consider testosterone therapy.
There's a lot more to testosterone than just fireworks in the bedroom. Consider it an alternative approach to improving your overall quality of life.
3. Explore your quality of sex.
Become more comfortable understanding how your climax, lubrication and arousal work.
Women typically have a harder time with sex drive and arousal. Most men might consider sex a stress relief. Many of my female patients, however, consider sex part of their to-do lists; the priority drops lower and lower as more pressing requirements arise and take precedence.
For this reason, being in the right headspace is so important when it comes to your sex drive. Whether it’s relationship discord, body image satisfaction, opportunity or personal belief systems, any or all can play into how often you want to have sex. Add in the likelihood of you having an orgasm and it can be even more confounding.
The element of comfort during intercourse also needs to be considered. Some women experience sex painfully, resulting in a sharp decline in the incentive to further engage. This can result in a learned and self-propagating aversion to sex. Fear of pain during sex can result in tightening of the pelvic muscles resulting in actualization of pain, further reinforcing fear.
If you’re experiencing a decline in your sexual experience, have an open discussion with your partner, your doctor or even yourself. It’s an exercise that may aid in an improved experience.
4. Forgo the fake period.
Women often believe the “period” they have while on birth control pills — while you are taking the week off or using placebo pills — is real and necessary to remain healthy. In actuality, it is just bleeding as a result of withdrawing from the pill you were just taking. Scientifically, it’s not necessary like it is when you ovulate and have a real period.
A woman only menstruates after she ovulates and it doesn’t result in pregnancy. The uterus gets “padded up” in anticipation of a pregnancy and, when that doesn't happen, the nest is essentially broken down. Put in other terms, that’s when Aunt Flow pays us a visit. Birth control pills suppress ovulation and the response the uterus would have had. No ovulation means there’s no need for menstruation. You can actually take your active birth control pills without a break indefinitely! That is healthy and might even be more practical as well (no more tampons or pads, no cramps, more energy).
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