7 Awkward But Necessary Things To Consider Doing To Improve Your Health
Most of the foods we eat, the exercises we do, and the sleep we get is to improve our overall health, but we don't spend much time thinking specifically about what we can do for our sexual health. However, there are a number of necessary things to do for your health that you might want to consider adding to your routine. Although they may seem awkward, there is nothing weird about engaging in them, and we feel be encouraged to keep up on these habits, not shy away from them.
"Changes in feminine health may reflect a change in a woman’s overall health," Dr. Mary Rosser, OB/GYN at ColumbiaDoctors Midtown, tells Bustle. "It is important that women be aware and comfortable with their ... parts, primarily your vulva and vagina, and if any change occurs or persists, see your gynecologist. Every woman is unique, and it is often embarrassing to talk about gynecological issues with our girlfriends and family members. But your gynecologist understands feminine health and is able to discuss and solve many ... matters."
Because many of us feel uncomfortable dealing with certain areas of our health, we tend to skip out on some important habits. But it's time to throw our hesitant feelings aside and start doing what our body needs. Here are seven seemingly awkward, but necessary things we should all be doing to improve our health, according to experts.
1. Perform Kegel Exercises
Some of us know what Kegels are, but very few of us actually do them. "Kegel exercises provide multiple benefits by strengthening your pelvic floor," Jeni Vela, M.D., an OB/GYN with the Institute for Women’s Health, tells Bustle. "This consists of the muscles and tissue that support your bladder, bowels and womb, which can be weakened by weight gain, childbirth or the aging process. The simple 'clench and release' movement may seem awkward or uncomfortable at first, but it’s like any exercise: the more you practice it, the stronger you’ll become. And once you learn how to perform Kegel exercises, you can do them anywhere."
2. Get To Know Your Vagina & Vulva
Take the time to really become familiar with your vagina and your vulva. "The more comfortable you are with your body, the more aware you will be of any changes that occur," says Dr. Rosser. "This will empower you to ask your gynecologist those 'awkward' questions you need to ask to have a healthy vagina."
3. Go Commando
Try going without underwear every once and a while for the sake of your health. "Don't feel ashamed about skipping underwear — it's good for you," says Tami Prince, MD. "Wearing tight underwear increases moisture, which then may lead to yeast infections. Wearing thongs can increase anal shedding and potentially lead to infection. Going commando or wearing underwear with a cotton crotch allows for the vagina to breathe and stay dry."
4. Leave Some Pubic Hair
It's OK to leave some pubic hair in the genital region, as it does serve a purpose. "Pubic hair serves as a barrier that provides the skin protection from friction and infection," says Dr. Prince. "Hair removal causes tiny tears in the skin, which can then serve as entry points for bacteria and fungi. The bare skin cannot ward off infections so women who remove all pubic hair are at increased risk for sexually transmitted diseases such as Herpes as well as increased risk of chronic vaginitis."
5. Check Your Discharge & Odor
It's a good idea to be mindful of any changes to discharge or odor you may experience. "Check your discharge and odor," says Dr. Prince. "This may not be the most pleasant thing to do, but it is necessary. Discharge can change throughout the menstrual cycle and range from little-to-no discharge to snot-like mucous consistency. It is also normal to have a mild odor that is unique to every woman. However, discharge that is yellowish, greenish, or cottage-cheese-like, as well as odors such as fishy or putrid smells, warrant a visit to the gynecologist to rule out infections or foreign object such as a forgotten tampon."
6. Perform A Breast Self-Exam
In addition to getting to know your vagina, it's also important to become familiar with your breasts. "If you’re not sure how to properly perform a self-breast exam, talk to your OB/GYN," says Dr. Vela. "You should perform these monthly, around the same time of your cycle, and closely monitor your breasts for any foreign lumps or concerning changes such as nipple discharge."
7. Become Familiar With Birth Control
Take the time to do some research on birth control to find out which is best for you. "Learn how to use birth control — and we mean all birth control: dental dams, condoms, diaphragms, regularly taking the pill or learning about long-acting reversible forms of contraception," says Dr. Vela. "Don’t rely on your partner to protect both of you — take control of your reproductive health and enjoy sex responsibly."
Engaging in these habits might feel uncomfortable at your first, but your body will thank you later for protecting yourself.