Vaginal pH Balance: Understanding Intimate Health

Have you ever wondered how healthy your vagina is? Well, just like the rest of our body, vaginal health relies on many factors, and the most important thing is probably its pH levels.

Now, just a quick run through of pH levels. This is a scale that ranges from 0 – 14 that indicates whether your body is acidic or alkaline – with 7 being the neutral level. If pH is below 7, it means our body is acidic, while pH greater than 7 means that it is alkaline.

Though our body often aims for neutral levels, a healthy vagina should range from pH 3.5 to 4.5. The reason why it needs to be more acidic is to protect itself from bacteria that leads to infections and irritations. Once the pH in your vagina goes over 4.5, you might notice an unpleasant odor, and when you do, you probably already have a yeast infection going on down there. And you don’t want this to get worse as you will be prone to getting sexually transmitted infections.

With the ideal pH, your vagina will naturally produce good bacteria such as lactobacilli and corynebacterium. These bacteria will protect you from vaginal diseases like bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis, and candidiasis.

Some symptoms of an unhealthy vagina include unpleasant odor and discharge. The odor can vary from a fishy smell to a bread or beer-like scent with yeast overgrowth. Unhealthy discharge, on the other hand, is milky and sometimes has the same consistency as cottage cheese. Sometimes, these symptoms are accompanied by itching which can be really irritating. It is normal for your vagina to produce discharge, as long as it is clear and does not have a foul scent.

The pH levels in our vagina change within days, and this can be affected by menstruation, hormones, antibiotics, and even your diet. For instance, period blood has a pH level of 7, so this will naturally alter the pH in your vagina as it flows through it. Those who often use tampons are more prone to getting infections when it is left inside for too long.

Women who always stay hydrated, have a balanced diet, and practice safe sex are more likely to have a normal vaginal pH. And those who include yogurt or probiotics in their diet do too, as these contain lactobacillus. On the other hand, women who are not hygienic and eat loads of carbs and sugar have more chances of getting yeast infection.

Almost all women will experience this at least once in their lifetime due to the changes that occur in the body, so do not panic if you get one of the symptoms stated earlier. If you do, it is best for you to visit your doctor, so you can be treated with antibiotics or anti-fungal medications right away. But infections can be avoided by using gentle soap with lower pH levels. Try to stay away from antibacterial soaps as these tend to have higher pH levels. Furthermore, douching is not really ideal because it tends to wash off the good bacteria that your vagina produces naturally.

Know Thyself: The Vagina And The Vulva

Know Thyself: The Vagina and the Vulva

This topic is not something you would often hear people talk about in public, as most people just find it awkward to discuss with others. However, a lot of women and men have many questions about this topic – the difference between the vagina and the vulva.

The first thing that comes to mind is that like the heart and the lungs, the vagina is an organ, while no one really talks about the vulva. So to clear up your mind, we will be discussing the two terms in this article.

Let us start off with the vagina. It is not actually what you think it is – the vagina is not an organ and it is not what you could see from the surface. Rather, it is what connects the uterus to the vulva. It is the muscular canal where blood flows through during menstruation, and it is where a baby goes through when giving birth. Without the vagina, our body will not be able to store and transfer sperm cells to the uterus and fallopian tubes during egg fertilization – so it plays an important role in reproduction.

The vagina is naturally lubricated with mucous tissue and has its own microbial flora. The size varies from one woman to another, with an average of about 8 centimeters. However, since it is an elastic tube, it tends to stretch when one is aroused, as well as during childbirth.

Now, moving on to the vulva – it is actually what you could see from the outside, the sex organ in between a woman’s legs. The vulva consists of several parts including the clitoris, the labia minora and labia majora, the mons pubis, and the openings of the urethra and the vagina.

Things are starting to make more sense now right?

The mons pubis is the outer part of the genital that is covered with pubic hair, it is made of soft fatty tissues found on the surface of the pubic bone. The labia majora and minora are what we often refer to as the outer and inner lips. They are also made of fatty tissues and their main purpose is to protect the vagina from unwanted bacteria. Between the lips are the clitoris and the glans. The clitoris is a soft fold of skin like a hood, and at the tip of it is the glans – the most sensitive part that is vital during sex as it is what will give one the most pleasure.

In terms of hygiene, the vagina does not need to be washed as it is a self-cleaning organ, while the vulva needs to be cleansed at least once a day, simply because it is more exposed to bacteria. Washing the vulva regularly also protects the vagina from getting contaminated.

Now, it is important to know the difference between the vagina and the vulva, especially when you visit your doctor – to be able to explain to them what your concern is with regards to your lady parts. You don’t want to be using the wrong term when seeking for medical help from your doctor.

Yeast Infections: Know The Signs And Avoid The Itch!

One of the most unpleasant thing that a woman can get in her lifetime is a vaginal yeast infection, also known as candidiasis. It is probably the most common infection as 3 out of 4 women experience this at least once in their life. Just to make it clear, it is not considered a sexually transmitted infection (STI), so do not worry too much if you get this. Also, women do not have to be sexually active to develop this infection.

The first thing you should know about vaginal yeast infection is that it is caused by an unhealthy vagina. And an unhealthy vagina results from an imbalance in hormones that we get from the following: a weakened immune system, stress, lack of sleep, diet high in carbohydrates and sugar, antibiotics, and menstruation. When the pH level in the vagina changes and becomes alkaline, there is a tendency for yeast overgrowth to occur, which can then lead to infections.

If you feel like something unusual is going on down there, in terms of smell or discharge, then it is likely that you are experiencing some kind of infection. Symptoms of vaginal yeast infection include: itching, redness, burning sensation while urinating, pain during sex, soreness, and rashes. In some cases, vaginal discharge becomes clumpy like cottage cheese, and is accompanied by an unpleasant stench.

If you know that you have a vaginal yeast infection, it is best that you go to your gynecologist so he/she can prescribe you with an anti-fungal cream. Because the longer you leave this condition untreated, the worse the symptoms will be. Vaginal yeast infections can last from a few days, up to two weeks.

It is unavoidable for one to completely be immune to this condition because our bodies change on a daily basis, but there are ways to prevent getting infections like this. One thing you should know is that the vagina is very sensitive, and here are some ways to protect it from getting yeast infections.

Make sure to always wear breathable clothing. Wearing pants that are too tight tend to increase our body’s temperature, which means that you are more prone to sweating down there, raising your chances of getting infected. Similarly, it is best to always opt for breathable underwear like cotton so it does not hold heat or moisture. Another mistake that a lot of women do not realize is not changing their wet bikinis, or damp workout clothes immediately. Always make sure to keep yourself dry and fresh to avoid getting infected.

When you have your period, make sure to stay hygienic by changing your pads and tampons frequently. Furthermore, when using the toilet, always wipe from front to back because you don’t want the bacteria to get in your vagina. Now, you might think that washing your vagina regularly will protect you from yeast infections, but that is not always the case. Douching can actually make you more prone to getting an infection as it also washes off the good bacteria in your vagina.

Finding Your Lost Libido

Have you always enjoyed great sex with your husband or partner – since you guys met – but you cannot say the same anymore? Do you just do it with him to get him off your case? I know this is a sad situation, but you can rest assured that yours is not a hopeless case. Low sex drive is a common problem among women, and the problem may only worsen if you do not find a solution in good time. For you to determine the way forward, it is imperative that you establish the cause. This post is designed for helping you understand the various causes of decreased sex drive in women. From here, you can then decide the way forward.

Causes of low libido in women

Health problems

If you have an existing medical condition, it could be the reason for your low sex drive. The emotional and physical strain associated with such conditions or the side effects of their particular medications can cause low libido. Such conditions include cancer, heart disease, diabetes and an underactive thyroid. Some major surgeries such as the ones involving the removal of womb or ovaries may result in lost libido. If you have a health condition, or currently undergoing treatment, you may want to speak to your specialist or general practitioner – especially if you believe that it is the reason for your lost sex drive. He or she will assist you to establish the way forward, as far as reviving your libido is concerned.

Alcohol and drugs

Many women underestimate the impact of alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs on their sex drive. If you have been consuming a little more booze than usual, you need to take it slow. Cigarette smoking and other recreational drugs also have the potential to hurt your sex drive. Limit your alcohol intake to a maximum of 14 alcohol units per week. Women dealing with drug addiction problems, and at the same time struggling with lost libido should consider seeking help as soon as possible as drugs can also influence a person desire to engage in sex.

Contraception and medication

Birth control pills and other hormonal contraception methods can have a negative effect on your sex drive. Walk down the memory lane and determine whether this could be the reason for your lost libido – depending on when you started using your preferred method of contraception. Drugs for conditions such as hypertension, depression and those meant for treating seizures also affects your sex drive. Antipsychotics are also known to lower a woman’s sex drive. If you suspect any of this, present your concern to your general practitioner. He may offer a better alternative.

Pregnancy and everything that comes with it

If you are currently pregnant, look no further for something to blame on your lost libido. Childbirth and breastfeeding may also lead to lost libido. The changes in the levels of hormone, exhaustion (a baby in the picture means more responsibilities), the changes in your body (that links to body image), and changed priorities (the need to give more attention to the newcomer), are some of the causes of low libido or the lack of it during and after pregnancy. While these issues are bound to improve over time, speak to your doctor if your libido does go back to normal.

Kegels: The Secret to Better Sex

One of the characteristics of a healthy intimate relationship is incredible sex. In its absence, the chances of a relationship going down the drain increase with each passing day. As a result, it is imperative that each partner in a relationship play their part to keep their sexual experiences as exciting as possible. Sexual dysfunction is one of the challenges that couples have to deal with at some point in their relationships (although it is not necessarily a must). It comes in the form of difficulties obtaining orgasm, low sex drive, and problems with arousal among numerous others.

Today we look at one way of improving your sexual experience – Kegels.

These are easy clench and unclench exercises done for the purpose of strengthening the pelvic floor. The pelvis is simply the area between your hips. It is the part of the body that holds together your reproductive organs. On the other hand, the pelvic floor is a set of muscles and tissues that make up the sling/hammock and is found at the bottom of your pelvis. It is the slings that are responsible for keeping your sexual organs in place. You need a strong pelvic floor to have control over your bowels and bladder – and apparently, to enhance your sexual experiences. One of the advantages of Kegel exercises is that you can do them at anytime and anyplace. You do not any form of privacy – you can even do them while queuing at the bank or supermarket.

Where did Kegels come from? It originated from Dr. Arnold during the mid-1900s. He developed it to help who were suffering from urinary incontinence. When the patients went back to his practice for follow-up visits, they revealed that the Kegels had done more than its intended role. The female patients were excited to report that their vaginas had become more sensitive during sex. This revelation explains why we are here today speaking about the ability of Kegels to improve your sex life.

So how does it work? For starters, you must appreciate the fact that the PC muscles that are strengthened by Kegels are part of the muscles that usually contract when you climax. As a result, finding a way of toning these muscles goes a long way in improving the respective sensations and in turn, making it easier for you to orgasm. As already mentioned above, strong pelvic muscles also translate to a tighter vagina. In turn, you and your partner will be in a position to experience intensified sexual pleasure during those escapades. You just have to Google the different vagina tightening products and then analyze their demand, for you to appreciate how important a tight vagina is to ensure good sex.

One just has to learn how to do the Kegels, and then perform them on a daily basis. Try and start small and then increase the frequency. It might be a little difficult at the beginning, but when you eventually get used to performing the kegel, it becomes a norm. Whatever happens, do not give up. When you begin to realize results, you will have yourself to thank.

What Happens During A Female Orgasm?

There are a good number of women who usually experience reaching orgasm. However, we must appreciate the fact that a sizeable portion of the women population is blessed to enjoy good sex, and ultimately, orgasm! Described as the climax of sexual excitement, orgasm is usually characterized by feelings of intense pleasure concentrated in the genitals. It is almost impossible to describe how an orgasm feels like fully. In any case, different individuals have varying experiences – regarding intensity, the duration, as well as the frequency.

Today, we dig deeper into a woman’s experience during orgasm. What happens when she climaxes? A better way to look at this is to consider the various phases or stages of sexual activity referred to as the sexual response cycle generated by two sex therapists, Masters and Johnson. The sexual response cycle is divided into four stages. Since we are talking about female orgasm here, we will only focus on a woman’s experience.

The Excitement Phase

The excitement stage starts within ten to thirty seconds of sexual stimulation. Depending on the parties involved, the phase may last somewhere between several minutes to even hours. The vagina experiences natural lubrication followed by expansion and lengthening. The outer and inner lips of the vagina, the clitoris, and the breasts (although not always) begin to swell.

The Plateau Phase

The sexual excitement that takes place in the first phase continues in the plateau stage. If someone were to examine the vaginal lips at this point, he or she would tell you that the puffiness increases. Blood flow to the tissues in the vaginal walls improves significantly, causing it to swell, and in turn, causing the opening to become narrower. The inner labia changes color from pink to bright red or bright red to deep purple for women who have never given birth, and those who have respectively.

The Orgasmic phase

The third stage is the shortest – yet the most exciting – and the climax of the sexual response cycle. A woman experiences sporadic and rhythmic contractions of the anus, the uterus, and the vagina which lasts from about ten to sixty seconds. Note that the number and frequency of orgasms (during a sexual encounter) usually differ from one person to another. Also, it is imperative that women can enjoy multiple orgasms without the need for a refractory period after each one of them – like is usually the case with men. At the time of orgasm, some women would die for as much stimulation as possible that goes hand in hand with the contractions. The moment a woman orgasms her brain releases a chemical known as oxytocin. It is the reason some women love to cuddle after the act.

The rest phase

When the orgasms and the act are over, the contractions will stop, her uterus will go back to its initial position, and the clitoris will return to its shell. Slowly, her heart rate and flow of blood will normalize.

You cannot explain what happens during orgasm without paying attention to the female anatomy and the entire process of sex.

Why Do I Never Orgasm During Sex?

Besides everything else that makes up the entire process of sexual intercourse, many people look forward to climaxing. The ultimate beauty of sex is an orgasm. As a matter of fact, when a woman has difficulties reaching climax, it is enough to get her worried. It could be something that happens every once in a while, or you are worried because it has become a common occurrence. If this is your current situation, it is imperative that you try and establish why you have stopped climaxing – or why you never orgasm at all during sex.

The inability of a woman to climax even when she is sexually aroused, and she is sufficiently sexually stimulated is known as female orgasmic dysfunction. It is also referred to as anorgasmia. We must appreciate the fact that orgasms may vary in various aspects such as duration, intensity, as well as frequency. With little sexual stimulation, an average woman should be in a position to obtain orgasm – even though some women may need a higher level of stimulation compared to others. A good number of women experience challenges reaching orgasm when engaging in sexual intercourse with their partners even after what one would call an ample session of sexual stimulation. Nearly one-third of the women population has had to contend with female orgasmic dysfunction.

While the culprits of orgasmic dysfunction might be difficult to pinpoint without a thorough evaluation of a person’s case, they usually arise from psychological, emotional, as well as physical factors. As such, a woman may suffer from anorgasmia due to the following:

  • Existing medical conditions such as diabetes.
  • Older women say those that are past menopausal stage may have difficulties obtaining orgasms.
  • Particular medications or drugs such as antidepressants.
  • Women who have undergone gynecological surgeries like hysterectomy may suffer from female orgasmic dysfunction.
  • Some cultural or religious beliefs may also be to blame, especially the ones that tend to demonize sex in the eyes of a woman.
  • Some women are too shy. Unfortunately, this can hinder them from reaching orgasm during sex because of their inability to let loose and enjoy the whole process.
  • Guilt feelings during sex can prevent a woman from climaxing.
  • A woman who was sexually abused, and has had difficulties overcoming the trauma will hardly enjoy sex. Such a woman needs to be taken through counseling sessions, and if possible, get help from a sex therapist. Without this kind of assistance, it is almost impossible to move on.
  • A woman who is going through depression can hardly enjoy sex irrespective of how sexually aroused she is. Anxiety and stress are also to blame for female orgasmic dysfunction.
  • Do you suffer from low self-esteem? As an emotional being, a woman with poor body image will hardly feel sexy. With sex being the last thing on her mind, do we even need to talk about orgasm?
  • Poor relationship arising from issues such as infidelity, the absence of trust or unresolved conflicts may lead to anorgasmia.

The good thing is that all the above causes of female orgasmic dysfunction can be dealt with to restore a woman’s ability to climax. One just needs to establish the cause, and then pick it from there. It is better to speak with your doctor first – especially if you are currently on medication. A sex therapist or counselor may also come in handy.

Let’s Talk About Orgasms: 5 Fascinating Orgasm Facts

Often described as a powerful and the most pleasurable release of sexual tension, orgasm is undoubtedly the epitome of sexual pleasure for men and women. It is not unusual for people to talk about sex, yet, most of them hardly discuss orgasm. So, in this post, we consider five fascinating facts about orgasm. Here we go:

Orgasm can relieve pain

When having a headache, the last thing a woman thinks of doing is engaging in sex. However, maybe it should be the first thing on your to-do list. According to Lisa Stern, a nurse practitioner who works with LA’s Planned Parenthood, orgasm has the potential to relieve all types of pain including pain during childbirth, after surgery as well as pain from arthritis. During orgasm, the body releases a chemical known as oxytocin that promotes relaxation and a myriad of other emotional states.

Some women do not reach orgasm

Don’t worry if you have been having difficulties reaching orgasm – you are not alone. According to statistics from Planned Parenthood, approximately one in every three women has problems obtaining orgasm during sex. Perhaps this is the most interesting part; up to 80 percent of women have difficulty climaxing from vaginal sex alone. The female sexual dysfunction that includes challenges attaining orgasm is a common occurrence. Thankfully, the majority of FSD causes are reversible, and women are usually advised to see a doctor as soon as possible – particularly to eliminate suspicions of the presence of medical conditions such as depression, thyroid disease, or diabetes.

Sexual self-esteem and quality of orgasm

I bet you are hearing about this for the first time, but it is something of importance. Apparently, how you perceive your vagina dictates the quality of your orgasms. There is no definition of the perfect appearance of a vagina, and we must appreciate the fact that everyone is created uniquely. On the same note, as long as your vagina does not produce an abnormal discharge, it is free of sores, and you usually enjoy painless sex, there is no reason for your insecurity. Always think positively about your vagina, and it will surprise you how much doing so can impact the quality of your orgasms moving forward.

Women take longer to orgasm

As a woman, do not worry if you take longer than your man to reach climax – it is perfectly normal. A huge percentage of women take on average 20 minutes of sexual activity for them to orgasm. If your guy is always climaxing before you do, the both of you should collaboratively determine ways of slowing down. If it is a case of premature ejaculation, make a point of seeking the necessary treatment.

It gets better with age

Ask any woman to narrate her very first experiences with sex. One of the things she will admit is; her first experiences were pathetic, and she was always left wondering why people love sex. It is because they did not climax until a little later in life. Orgasm becomes better with age, and this may be attributed to a woman’s experience in matters sex over time. Besides, with the progression of time, a woman becomes more in tune with her body as well as more confident. With an improved body image and self-awareness, it is impossible for a woman not to enjoy incredible sex.

5 Sneaky Things That Might Be Killing Your Sex Drive

For as long as you can recall, your sex life has always been nothing short of amazing. Your partner has never complained about your performance in the bedroom or your interest in sex. However, things have not been the same lately. Your normal appetite for sex is declining, and sometimes you dismiss his sexual advances towards you. You are not easily aroused as before – sexually.

Just what could be happening? Let us take a deep look into your life and perhaps establish five sneaky things that could be giving your sex drive a dip.

Relationship problems

Have you and your partner been going through difficulties in the recent past?  Unlike men, women are emotional beings. As such, when they are emotionally stable, one of the things that suffer is their sex drive. Relationship problems may range from dealing with a cheating spouse (infidelity), poor communications as far as sexual needs are concerned, and when a woman does not trust her partner. Either of these challenges has the potential to kill a woman’s sex drive. If this has been the case with you, it is imperative that you initiate a healing process or any other practical solution to help you get back your sex drive.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Did you just confirm your pregnancy, or have you recently given birth? Pregnancy and breastfeeding are known to cause robust changes in your hormones and the same can significantly impact your sex drive. To this, add the numerous body changes, fatigue and the responsibilities associated with parenting. In such an instance, it is normal for sex to automatically (unconsciously) appear at the bottom of the list of things you need to do. It just happens without you realizing. You only get to notice when your partner points it out to you. If you are currently going through these changes, read and consult widely to help you understand how well to approach the whole scenario so that your sex life does not suffer.

Menopause

Menopause is yet another phase in a woman’s life that impacts her sex drive. The estrogen levels of a woman are expected to drop during menopause and consequently leading to the vaginal dryness that causes painful sex. No one enjoys painful sex, and as such, you would expect a woman going through this to shun or turn down any sexual advances from her partner. While not all women will experience a decreased sex drive when they hit menopause, we cannot entirely dismiss the possibility of its occurrence.

Low self-esteem

Never underestimate the role that self-esteem plays in a woman’s life. A woman with high levels of self-esteem can conquer the world – and this includes the bedroom too. She scores highly in almost everything she puts her mind and hands into including business, career, academics, as well as family and other relationships. On the other hand, a woman with low self-esteem hates herself and everything about her life – and her sex life is not spared. Poor body image is one of the leading causes of low self-esteem. If a woman stops feeling sexy, her sex drive suffers tremendously.

Are you in this situation currently? Stand before your mirror and look at the person facing you. What is it that you do not like about the person staring back at you? Is it the way you dress? Does it have anything to do with your body weight? Is it the level of your intelligence? Believe me; you can work on these things. Consider getting a makeover – even if it means engaging a fashion designer and body image consultant. Hit the gym and shed off excess weight. Start eating a healthy diet. Pursue that college diploma you have been dreaming off all your life! Invest in books and magazines that promote personal development. Before you know it; you will have become the woman you have always admired.

Examine your medicine cabinet

If you have been on medication such as oral birth controls, blood pressure drugs or antidepressants, right there is your culprit. Determine their side effects, and if decreased sex drive is one of them, speak to your doctor at your earliest convenience. He or she may propose another option.

Why Women Lose Interest in Sex?

Two sex researchers, Robin Milhausen and Sarah Murray, from the University of Guelph, Ontario Canada conducted a research study involving 170 participants – female and male undergraduate students engaged in heterosexual relationships. The findings were published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy.

The participants were asked to rate their sexual health with respect to relationship satisfaction, sexual desire, as well as sexual satisfaction. In the case of sexual desire, it was determined using the Female Sexual Function Index model that ranges between 1.2 and 6.0.

The participants exhibited a general satisfaction in their relationships and sex lives. However, women participants reported lower sexual desire levels depending on how long their relationships had lasted. According to the research findings, for every additional month that the female students remained in a single relationship, they experience a decreased sexual desire by 0.02 – based on the Female Sexual Function Index model.

According to Daily Mail UK, studies in Europe, Britain, and America reported that approximately 30-50 percent of women of all ages have experienced extended periods of little, or non-existent sex drive. Going by these statistics, it is imperative to determine why women lose interest in sex. It is a good starting point to help you chart the way forward – if you are caught up in this situation.

Relationship problems

When a woman is no longer happy in a relationship or marriage the first thing that hurts is her sex drive. Women are emotional beings and can hardly engage in sexual intercourse with a person they are unhappy with. Poor communication, loss of sexual attraction, trust issues, unresolved conflicts and arguments, and over-familiarity with your partner are some of the relationship problems capable of hurting your sex drive. If this explanation is a description of what you are going through, consider seeking relationship counseling. Your general practitioner should be in a position to recommend a good sex therapist or counselor.

Anxiety, stress, exhaustion and depression

These almost, inevitable elements may be the reason you have been experiencing a dip in your happiness, and your sex drive too. Are you constantly exhausted, anxious or stressed? If yes, consider making some lifestyle changes. Alternatively, consult your general practitioner for advice.

Depression goes beyond the feeling of unhappiness, misery or just being fed up in the short term. It is a serious health condition that interrupts your normal life, and this includes your sex life. If you are always struggling with unending cases of sadness, hopelessness or you have completely lost interest in things that you used to enjoy, you are dealing with depression. See your doctor as soon as you can so that the problem can be dealt with before it gets out of hand.

Old age and menopause

Reduced sex drive is highly associated with aging. It is usually caused by decreasing levels of estrogen and testosterone, just before, during, and after menopause. Age-related diseases and the side effects of corresponding medications may also lead to low libido. Your general practitioner may recommend treatments for increasing hormone levels such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) among numerous others.