Tag Archives: women’s health

Vaginas & Vulvas- What Do You Know?

Have you looked at your vulva lately? Yes, you read correctly! Many of you will probably say you haven’t, and many more would probably ask what in the world is my “vulva” in the first place! That’s okay. I was in the same boat myself before venturing out on my journey to expand my sexual health awareness.

I recently traveled with the core members of the Patty Brisben Foundation team to San Diego for the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health Conference as part of my continued hunger to keep learning! (Below is a snapshot of me with Aran Mordoh, Pure Romance’s Sexual Health Education Manager at the conference.)

2One of my biggest takeaways was the importance of consistently examining our own vulvas for any signs of irregularity. We are told by our mothers and the media from a very young age to take care of our skin, and told by our doctors to do annual breast exams at home, but how come no one has ever told us to regularly look at our our vulvas? We should be proactive about every aspect of our health and that includes every part of our body. During one session at the conference, they asked us to look at side-by-side photos comparing two vulvas – one of a woman in her 50s and another in her late 70s. Most would assume that the younger woman’s vulva would look healthier, but in this case, it was quite the opposite. It was fairly easy to notice and identify the difference in these two vulvas, but how do we know how to check ourselves when using a mirror in the privacy of our home? There is a great book called, “Read My Lips: A Complete Guide to the Vagina and Vulva” by Debby Herbenick and Vanessa Schick that will serve as a wonderful guide for learning about your vulvar health! Have you ever taken a look in the mirror and knew that you were getting sick? It shouldn’t be much different when it comes to recognizing the red flags associated with your vulva (as long as you know what to look for in the first place). We have to make the decision to be proactive when it comes to our sexual health, especially because it is a topic that people aren’t traditionally as comfortable discussing in public forums, and even with their healthcare providers.

Another big takeaway from the conference was a concept that I’ve been passionate about for decades, and that is the idea of “Use it or lose it.” Just like cardio is important to maintain our lung and heart health, we also need to make sure that we are actively “exercising” when it comes to our vaginal and vulvar health. As we age, our vulva undergoes a multitude of “wear and tear” experiences from tampon use to childbirth. It’s so vital to keep this part of our body stimulated, not just for the psychological benefits (such as helping alleviate stress and encouraging mental wellness), but also for physiological reason like preventing atrophy and dryness that can lead to pain in the future. Single people without a sexual partner might neglect to kegel or use intimacy products as a way to continue to keep their vulva and vagina “active.” Women in relationships sometimes wrongly assume that regular intercourse is enough; meanwhile couples in sexless marriages are also at risk. Whatever the scenario, it should be the highest priority to always stimulate the muscles in the vulva to prevent problems in the future.

Most women have been taught that they are never supposed to touch themselves, and they certainly were never told that it was a priority to maintain “healthy vulvas.” This kind of misinformation has been one of the biggest obstacles we have faced when it comes to achieving optimal health. By being more familiar with your body, you are not only prioritizing your physical and mental wellbeing, but you will also be able to better instruct your partner on what you enjoy. So do yourself (and your partner, if attached) a favor and pick up a mirror and the book I mentioned above to start the road to better health today.

Race for the Cure

Last week, I told you about the Pink Ribbon Luncheon, an event that raises money to provide services to breast cancer patients in Cincinnati. But that wasn’t the only way I got involved to help find a cure.

On the last Saturday of September, the Pure Romance team and I participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. I look forward to this event each year, and the 2012 Race for the Cure was spectacular.

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Giving Back at the Pink Ribbon Luncheon

Pink Ribbon Luncheon

Me and some of my staff at the 2012 Pink Ribbon Luncheon.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and it is important that we all do what we can to support efforts to end a disease that affects so many people. About 1 in 8 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, and the toll the disease takes on those women and their families is devastating. Here is how I am doing my part.

On Thursday, September 27, I attended the Pink Ribbon Luncheon, an event sponsored in part by Pure Romance. This was the eleventh year for the Pink Ribbon Luncheon, and this year they outdid themselves. From start to finish, the event was informative, touching, and fun.

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A Woman’s Right to Health

This month brings three dates that bring to mind some of the strides women have made throughout history. Women now have rights women of the past had only dreamed of. All too often, we take for granted the gifts we’ve been given, and adversely, we sometimes forget to demand for something more. In my October series, I hope you see some of the rights women have in a new light. 

Question: What’s more pink than Valentine’s Day and the Pure Romance Corporate offices combined?
Answer: October.

Why? As you probably know already, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you take a look around Target, Walmart, or Macy’s, chances are that you’ll see makeup, boxes of crackers, golf clubs, and hairspray that are dusted in pink and have that iconic ribbon on them.

Breast cancer, which will affect about one in eight women in the United States, has become all too familiar anymore. The fact that it is so prevalent is unavoidable and disheartening. It has become a part of our daily conversation, not just October’s conversation. For me personally, I always feel moved to find a cure, and with the Patty Brisben Foundation for Women’s Sexual Health, we fund important research in the four pillars of the PBF: vulvovaginal pain disorder, pre-menopause and menopause, libido, and sexual dysfunction after cancer therapy.

What Breast Cancer Awareness Month proves is that women are being heard, loud and clear. As women, we have a right to be aware of our health. Additionally, we have a right to take care of our health. We tend to struggle with the idea that we deserve time to take care of ourselves, but ladies, we must. It’s easy to think that if you use an hour of your day to work out, you’re taking time away from your family. I have to tell you—the exact opposite is true. When you take an hour to benefit your health, not only are you adding onto your own life, you’re also setting a great example for your whole family. You’ll be there longer for them when you take care of yourself.

This month, I’d like women to focus on their own health. Here is exactly what I mean by that:

1. Go to the doctor when something is off. No one knows your body better than you do; when something isn’t quite right, you know it. Don’t waste time trying to figure it out on your own. Seek medical attention as soon as you can. Even though this may seem like an overreaction at first, don’t see it that way. This is your health—it can’t be taken for granted.

2. Eat right. Eating right is very individual to the woman. We all have various intolerances and preferences. If you need help building a healthy eating regimen, set up an appointment with a nutritionist. It takes just one meeting to gain an understanding of what kind of eating will suit your needs.

3. Make time to exercise. Most personal trainers will tell you to work out five to six days a week. Don’t feel bad if you miss one workout—something is better than nothing sometimes! Not sure of what types of workouts you should be doing? Get a membership to a gym to try out different classes, meet with a personal trainer, or feel it out for yourself. You won’t know until you try!

4. Take a time out for mental health. Never feel guilty for taking a moment for yourself. Whether that’s a half hour watching your favorite TV show or reflecting on your day, give your brain a break. Breathe and release the stress.

5. Spend time with the people you love. This is the secret to excellent mental health. We get so caught up in things that we “need” to do that we forget to stop and enjoy the people we love the most. Have a romantic night with your partner, spend a Friday night out with your girlfriends, have a nice dinner with your parents. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Breast cancer is taking a toll on women at younger ages every year. This October, honor the cause, your body, and your family by taking care of yourself and being mindful of your health.

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