No discussion about fully enjoying our sexuality can be complete without addressing the important issue of the health of our genitals.
(Updated November 2011)
In order to really enjoy life, and a satisfying sex life as an integral part of it, we need to look after our body.
General health is very important, and we all know that in order to be healthy we need to eat nutritious food, move our body, rest adequately, spend time in the sun, breathe, learn how to deal with our emotions, these sorts of things. We might argue about the details of how to achieve optimal health, but at least, the discussion is out in the open and we just need to choose the method or technique that suit us best.
When it comes to health that is specifically sex-related, most of us know how to keep ourselves free of STDs, unwanted pregnancies, we might pop in to see the OBGYN every now and then, and… that’s about it.
The Importance of a Healthy Vagina.
As we learn to open up and embrace our own innate sexuality, it’s a really good idea to give some attention to the physical state of our vagina.
Before we continue, for those of us who forgot what they were taught at school – or, like me, didn’t bother to pay attention – about the anatomy of our genitals, I’m adding a very basic illustration. So we recall what a vagina actually is (because people often say “vagina” when they actually mean “vulva”):
I endlessly mention that we need to pay attention to the subtle sensation in our genitals while enjoying slow sex. It’s true for all of our sexually relevant organs – breasts, clitoris, vulva, cervix, and any other area in your body that contributes to your arousal. However, I’m paying special attention to the vagina, as it plays a crucial role in the way we experience sex, more than any other sexual organ – and not just due to penetrative sex. We store a lot of memories and emotions in the cells of our vagina. And when we give our vagina the care it deserves, alongside with adopting a healthy approach to our sexuality, we multiply our potential to experience all those delicious sensations that our vagina can deliver. And the healthier our vagina is, the more attuned we can be to the subtle sensations that are present there.
Most of us tend to the state of our vagina when something is out-of-whack. When it’s itchy, or sore, or smells bad…
But a healthy vagina is one that is capable of feeling the gentlest of sensations on one hand, yet strong and flexible enough to birth a newborn through it without it being a ghastly ordeal on the other hand.
Improving the Health of Your Vagina: Look After Your Bacteria.
A healthy vagina has a unique spectrum of bacteria that is important for the vagina’s health. It plays a key role in maintaining the optimal pH level of the vagina, and in protecting the vagina from different types of infections. Unfortunately, there wasn’t too much research done to fully understand the vagina’s microbiome, however, we do know that many things can alter its composition. Things like: vaginal washes (douches), most methods of birth control, use of antibiotics, use of vaginal lubricants, and generally inserting stuff into your vagina.
It is a good practice to use a lot of caution in order to minimize the interference with the vaginal microbiome. I won’t give you any medical advice here, but I can suggest the following:
- Do not douche. There is absolutely no need to.
- Use natural birth controls to the best of your ability.
- If you use antibiotics, add lots of fermented foods to your diet, and consider supplementing with a women-specific-formula of probiotics.
- When using lubes, only use ones that mimic natural moisture. My personal recommendation is Good Clean Love products, as their products are made of natural ingredients and are doctor recommended. Use this link to get a 10% discount at checkout (yes, I’m a proud affilaite!)
- Whatever you decide to insert into your vagina – go slow and gentle. Minimize friction as much as you can, to avoid the physical disruption of your vagina’s microbiome.
Improving the Health of Your Vagina: Pelvic Floor Muscles Exercise.
The pelvic floor muscles are the ones that are located around the very bottom of your abdomen – your pelvis. They envelop and surround your vulva, your vagina, your anus, your urethrae, etc. There are plenty of muscles with different shapes and different functions. You don’t need to know how they move and what are their names. But you do need to know, that they need some exercise.
Many of us only hear about the pelvic floor muscles (PFM) in the context of recovering from giving birth, or in the context of incontinence issues. But it’s a really good idea to start paying attention to these muscles as early as possible as a preventative measure – and also as a way to increase our ability to feel pleasure. See, sometime in the evolution of our society, we have decided to adopt the (nearly) incessant use of chairs. In societies where people mostly squat, or sit directly on floors, the PFMs tend to be just fine. Sitting in chairs is a very unnatural, unhealthy posture for our body, and one nasty side effect is that our PFMs are becoming obsolete. Also, in our society, when we move our hips – we mostly move them forward and backward and not nearly as much sideways. In other words, we don’t position and move our PFMs in a way that would support their health – hence they deteriorate, become weak and now we need to exercise them.
There are different ways to exercise your pelvic floor muscles, let me mention a few options:
- Belly Dancing or Hula Hoop – this is lots of fun, and also lots of good stuff for your PFMs. subtle movements in all directions, learning to activate and control your muscles all around your lower abdomen – simply fantastic.
- Yoga – If you’re practicing yoga regularly, and you’re activating your Mula Bandha during your practice – that’s pretty good. You are more than likely moving your hips in all directions, and in the lock, the PFMs are activated regularly. If you have no clue what I just said – don’t worry about it. Ignore this section and move to the next.
- Kegels – You can find information on how to do Kegels pretty much everywhere on the internet. If you’ve never worked with your PFMs before, it might take some practice to understand how to do them, but once you get the hang of it, they are relatively simple and easy to do throughout the day. Their big advantage is that you can do them pretty much any time during the day, no matter where you are.
- Jade Egg – The jade egg practice is based on a Chinese tradition, that was developed to enhance the PFMs’ abilities in order to enhance sexual pleasure for both the woman and the man during intercourse. It’s all the rage these days. It’s a jade stone cut in the shape of an egg, which you insert into the vagina in order to take your exercise to the next level. It has quite a lot of benefits, but it does require an investment of money (the egg itself is not too expensive, usually around the $50-$60 benchmark, but you need to invest in a course with someone that really knows how to use them). It’s not as simple as you might think. So there’s also the investment of time to learn how to properly use it.
- Various Pelvic Floor Trainers – these are the Western modern version of the Jade egg, there are plenty around and they are promoted as a tool to practice your Pompoir. Pompoir is a specific sexual practice in which you move your pelvic floor muscles in such a way that will stroke your partner’s penis from inside the vagina. More or less. I call it circus tricks to impress your partner in bed – which, I admit, could also be a great amount of fun once you are totally comfortable with your sexuality.
- Pelvic Floor Muscles Physiotherapy – if you are having some incontinence issues, for any reason whatsoever, it might be a good idea to see a PFM therapist. They will be able to give you 1-on-1 guidance and instructions, including biofeedback – which means that they will most probably have to touch you inside your vagina or teach you how things should feel from the inside.
If it’s all a little too much for you right now, consider simply sitting less on chairs (try a physio ball instead), and circulating your hips a little every day. That’s a really good start.
Improving the Health of Your vagina: learn how to feel at ease with your sexuality.
Our physical state of being is affected by our mental and emotional state of being. And vice versa. We can’t always say if one caused the other, but we can definitely say they influence each other. When our overall outlook on sexuality is bright and positive, and when we look after our pleasure and our vitality in the way we approach sex, our vagina has the full potential to flourish and thrive.
One of my closest friends is a nurse, and she called me just yesterday to share something with me. People share with me the most amazing stuff now that I write about sexuality…
She is performing pap-smear for women regularly, and she noticed that women that are comfortable with their sexuality, have vaginas that are vibrant and lubricated. Whereas women who feel insecure and uncomfortable in their sexuality, have dry, less-than-optimal vaginas.
Now, I know this is only an anecdote, it’s not any scientific research or fact that is well established. But it makes total sense to me, and even as an anecdote, I thought I would share it with you.
Learn how to relate to your sexuality in a way that totally resonates with you and that makes you come alive!
This website has a few pointers to lead you in the right direction, but you need to do the work yourself: investigate, search and practice sex in a way that is genuinely responding with your innate sexuality.
Oh, and practice slow sex, of course. Your vagina will really thank you for it!