Happy RAG Week, and a very very happy valentines day! Valentines is an important date for us in the Sexpress, because on Valentines last year we released our standalone Sexpress magazine. We were so happy with the feedback we received from readers and staff members alike, and we were happy to cover a good basis of things you might need to know relating to sex. We can’t recount them all here (it’s really hard to fit 50-pages worth into just one…), but if you want to know what form of birth control is right for you, what to do if you accidentally get pregnant, how to have safe anal sex or how to approach period sex, you can revisit the Sexpress magazine by going to Sexpress.UCCExpress.ie. Now, though, please enjoy an article on how to groom your downstairs to be in the best shape possible this Valentine’s.
How to Groom your ‘Ladygarden’ for those Valentine’s Tinder Moments
Noirin Byrne, Bannerton PR
These are some top tips to keep your lady landscape looking and smelling Valentine’s date ready:
Change immediately after working out or swimming:
Yeast infections thrive in moist, warm places. Sweat and water can both create this kind of environment in your body, so the sooner you can change out of your swimsuit or workout clothes, the better. The same applies to tights- we all have heard that tights offer the perfect breeding environment for vaginal infections, so let your ladyparts have a day off and set them free as much as possible!
Keep washing to a minimum
Experts don’t recommend douching because it can disturb the pH balance in your vagina. Many women don’t realise that this leads to uncomfortable conditions such as BV (bacterial vaginosis), a condition that is actually more common than thrush, although less well recognised. Between 12% and 29% of women will suffer from BV at some stage, therefore up to 320,000 Irish women annually are likely to develop this unpleasant infection. Skip the soap and just opt with water. It’s ok to wash the outside with a gentle pH balanced shower gel or unscented soap. If you happen to have a BV breakout, Relactagel is an over the counter remedy available in pharmacies that should fix the problem in a few days.
Eat a vagina-friendly diet
There are certain foods that make your private area angry, such as too much sugar and yeasty foods. Like your gut, your vagina relies on healthy bacteria to ward off bacteria that causes infections. Probiotic foods like yogurt and cheese, and prebiotic foods like raw onions and leeks are important for maintaining these good bacteria down there. Prone to UTIs? Make sure you drink lots of water every day, and unsweetened cranberry juice helps if you do get a UTI.
Lube up for Maximum Comfort and Confidence
22.5% of Irish women say vaginal dryness affects their confidence, according to a recent survey from Kora Healthcare. This can translate to a poor, shy performance in the bedroom. There is nothing wrong with using a little aid to help you feel more comfortable between the sheets. If you need lubricant, there are many options available in the chemist such as Regelle, a handy little vaginal gel that comes in a discrete applicator. It is intended for the symptomatic relief of vaginal atrophy, dryness, itching, irritation and discomfort so you can let yourself go and not worry about pain or feeling embarrassed.
Choose your undergarments with care
Burn those PVC panties now! When picking your smalls, cotton underwear is the best kind for your vagina because it’s most breathable. For the same reason you’re better off not wearing any knickers at all when in bed. Are you one of those rare people who still wears thongs? These are best avoided (they can bring bacteria to the urethra, which can lead to UTIs) but if you do insist on buying thongs, avoid ones made out of synthetic materials like polyester and nylon.
Put the Smear Test in the Diary
Nobody looks forward to a smear test, but it is something that should be prioritised by everyone with a womb to prevent the risk of getting cervical cancer. The National Screening Service’s CervicalCheck Screening programme provides free smear tests to people aged 25 to 60. It’s a simple five-minute procedure, and the best way to detect changes in the cells of the cervix.
Wash your underwear with unscented detergent
Take care when choosing your detergent. Some washing powders and liquids contain so many chemicals, and these can interrupt your vaginal oils and warp the way it protects against infections. It’s best to go for detergents that are as natural and toxin free as possible.
Stretch your inner thighs & get active
Believe it or not, exercise and stretching can have an effect on your vag. Tight inner thigh muscles can lead to tension and pain in the vagina. Book a yoga class and make sure you stretch out your thigh muscles. Slouching doesn’t help your bits either- it can put stress on the nerves in the sacrum that connect to the vagina, which impedes nerve conduction and blood flow. Instead, sit with your lower back resting against the back of good chair, not perched at the front of your seat with no back support. Your feet should touch the ground (dangling them can also stress your back). If you are stuck in an office all day, make time to get up and walk around. Your blood flow will improve and so will your vaginal happiness.
Wash your willy (and ‘scape your man)
Especially if you have a foreskin, washing your penis regularly is crucial to having a clean, safe sex life. Build-up of smegma, as well as some leftover urine, can get trapped in there if you don’t clean regularly (or at least before sex).
Manscaping is also important. It makes performing oral sex on you better for your partner, and more appealing too – no one wants to blow what looks like a button in a fur coat. A quick shave or a trim of your pubic area every few weeks should do it.