8 “Gross” Habits That Are Actually Part Of Being A Grown-Ass Woman

In many ways, establishing a few healthy habits — even if they seem kind of uncomfortable — is a surefire sign of adulthood. You know you're officially a grown-ass woman when you actually enjoy flossing your teeth. And the moment you remember to schedule a checkup with your OB/GYN, is the moment you know you've "made it."

Sure, some of these things are "gross" insofar as they're not very glamorous or fun. But they're all habits that are necessary for good health. "One major milestone to proving you are finally a grown woman is your ability to have consistent positive habits and hygiene practices in your life," author and natural lifestyle expert Jaya Jaya Myra tells Bustle. "When you put the time and energy into properly caring for yourself ... you'll know you've reached an important milestone in your life."

Of course, nobody's perfect. So it's fine if you "fall off the wagon" and don't floss every day. And it's not the end of the world if you accidentally pick at your skin, or forget to make a dental appointment. NBD. But the sooner you can establish a few habits, the less likely you'll be to forget. Here are a few of the more invasive habits that we all need to get into, for good health.

1Pap Smears And Checkups

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Even though it's not always comfortable and can feel invasive, staying on top of your health is key — especially if you're sexually active. "This includes meeting with your gynecologist and being open and honest with them," Bethany Ricciardi, sex educator and relationship expert with Too Timid, tells Bustle. "Get that yearly PAP and HPV screening." Talk about your period and birth control options. And don't be afraid to get checked for STIs, while you're at it.

"If you're sexually active, whether you have multiple partners or are in a monogamous relationship, it’s important to check during and after the relationship for STDs," Ricciardi says. "A lot of the times they show no symptoms, which is why you need to go in for check ups often." Yes, it can be slightly uncomfortable to get a Pap smear and talk about sex and STIs with your doctor. But it's all part of maintaining good health.

2Actually Cleaning Your Sex Toys

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It may be the last thing you want to do when you're using one, but not cleaning your sex toys can be dangerous for your health. "Not only is properly cleaning and storing your sex toys for your own safety and health, but it will also extend the life of your toys," Ricciardi says. (Which is great if you spent a lot of money on them.)

To wash them properly, Ricciardi suggests removing the batteries, washing it using gentle antibacterial soap and warm water, drying the toy fully before storing it in a cool place, and replacing any non-silicone toys after four to six months, to prevent wear and tear.

By taking a few seconds to clean toys after each use, you'll be lessening your chances of infection. "For the majority, the worst thing that can happen when you don't clean your sex toys is that you will continue to give yourself the same yeast infection over and over again," Ricciardi says. "If you’ve ever had a yeast infection, this should be motivation enough to start scrubbing!"

3Flossing More Often

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There are quite a few milestones we all pass on the road to adulthood, and one of them is getting into the habit of flossing. (And bonus points if you actually enjoy doing it.)

It's something many of us forget to do on a regular basis. But since flossing can help keep your teeth intact, it's something you'll want to add to your routine sooner rather than later.

"When you forget to floss, you miss all of the gross stuff between your teeth, which allows bacterial growth and tooth decay," Myra says. "It's very easy to get cavities between teeth, even when you brush daily, if you don't floss." So get in there and get cleaning. And remember to schedule an annual dental appointment, too.

4Plucking Ingrown Hairs With Ease

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One life skill we should all unlock is how to properly remove an ingrown hair, without picking at it and making it infected. Because ingrown hairs happen to the best of us.

"Picking at an ingrown hair is the worst thing you could do," Myra says. Instead, "you can use a small needle to pierce the skin under the hair, and fine point tweezers to start to work it out that way, but make sure to use rubbing alcohol so it does not get infected."

5Navigating Your Period Like A Pro

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Remember how chaotic and unpredictable life felt when you first got your period? There's a good chance it still feels that way, even now that you're an adult. And that's OK. But tracking your period can certainly help keep it all in order, and give you peace of mind.

By religiously marking it on your calendar, or tracking your period in an app, you can feel more in tune with your body — and be less likely to have it take you by surprise. Plus, as Ricciardi says, "it’s really important to understand the timing of your menstrual cycle because the slightest change could mean you have an STD or pregnancy."

6Checking For Moles

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It's important, as you get older, to get into the habit of monitoring your skin for new moles, bumps, and freckles. "If you notice new moles or other skin changes, keep an eye on [them], as fast growing moles in particular, or any that were not there before, should be checked out to see if they are cancerous," Myra says. "Even if you don't get sunburned frequently, you can still get sun damage that leads to skin cancer."

To give yourself a skin exam, according to the American Cancer Society, stand naked in front of a mirror and give yourself a thorough once over every month. Get to know what's common for your skin, and what isn't. And then follow up with a dermatologist — especially if you have concerns.

7Keeping Your Bowels Regular

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It sounds gross, but you really should be paying attention to your poop. "Bowel changes are a great way to know when your health is changing: both physically and emotionally," Myra says. "Stress, diet changes, not getting enough fiber or water — all of these things can change bowel habits. When things are irregular, it's a clear sign that you need to change something in order to stay in a place of optimum wellbeing." It you notice any changes in your bowel habits, let your doctor know.

8Washing Those Dirty Towels & Sheets

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Don't feel bad it you forget to wash your sheets or towels regularly. These things happen to the best of us, and you still get to hold your title of "grown-ass woman," even if you're sleeping in a musty bed.

But do yourself a favor, and try to create the habit of throwing them in the wash more often. "If you don't wash your towels and sheets, bacteria will soak in and potentially spread," Ricciardi says. "Dust mites can be hiding in your sheets, feeding off of dead skin cells that’s left on your bedding."

And if you have sex in your bed, it adds a whole new layer. "Depending on how you have sex, lube can get all over the sheets too, which is easy to clean off, but between bodily fluids, lube, and sweat from sex it’s best you wash after," she says. "Not to mention if you have animals, or if you and your [sexual partner] eat in bed, there’s even more particles hiding in your sheets."

While some of these things may seem "gross," these habits are your keys to good health. And if you do them on the regular, you'll be well on your way to being a bonafide grownup.