When Life Gives You Lemons…

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When I first started this blog, it was because I heard so many people in the chronic illness community (including myself) who didn’t have a place to go to read/talk about how chronic illness and health struggles affect/hinder our relationships, particularly our intimate and romantic relationships. As people, this is such a huge aspect of our lives. We all deserve to experience love and happiness, and that is why I committed myself to being a source of information, and advice on improving relationships with health struggles.

There’s a sort of “age old” question in the chronic illness/chronic pain/health challenged community that centers around when/how to tell a potential special someone about your condition(s). Unfortunately, there’s still no magic answer for this question, but there are people out there who are trying to make this question a little less daunting.

Recently, I was informed of a new dating app specifically for people with health challenges called Lemonayde. Lemonayde’s creator (who also has a health condition) states in the story of the app that Lemonayde’s “…mission is to help make sure that you’re comfortable with who you are, without feeling like you have to apologize for your condition; especially when it comes to dating.” If you’re already in the dating arena, but haven’t had much luck, maybe connecting with someone who can identify a bit more with your struggles is what you need? And if you’re not on the dating scene, maybe this is the perfect shoe in to start!

Lemonayde is a way of putting yourself out there without the fear of wondering how you’ll tell a potential new partner, or friend about your condition. I’m reminded of a scene from the iconic Disney movie Heavyweights (not familiar with it? See HERE ) where Gerry and Roy (two of the main characters) are talking, and Roy says, “You’ll love camp, man. Camp is awesome. No one picks on you because you’re not the fat kid. Everybody’s the fat kid.” In all seriousness, I think this is exactly what is so great about the Lemonayde dating app; you’re not the only person with a health condition, because EVERYONE has a health condition. Knowing you’re not alone, and not having to explain yourself can lift a gigantic weight off your shoulders, and may be just what you need to dip your toes back in the dating pool.

Are you still nervous about getting back onto the dating scene? Not to worry, Lemonayde doesn’t have to result in you finding a romantic partner (though, who knows? Maybe it will? 😉 ) it can be a way to make some great friends, and help you to get back in the saddle by freely conversing with people, and slowly banishing the social fears that come with health struggles.

I’ve said Lemonayde is a dating app, but what is it like? Lemonayde is pretty much as you would expect a dating app to be. The app is easy to use and available for FREE to download on android and iphone. Once downloaded you are able to create your profile, and can choose whether or not to disclose your specific health struggle(s). You can then get matched and start chatting! Sounds pretty easy, right? Turn those dating fear lemons into lemonade and give it a try! https://www.lemonaydeapp.com/

You are ALL worthy of love and friendship! XO

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**As promised I am informing you that this post is sponsored by Lemonayde. I only promote sites and products that I feel are beneficial, and whose creators are truly trying to make a difference for those of us with health conditions.**

 

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Fun & Communication with your Partner Without Leaving the House!

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How can you work on your communication with your partner, AND have fun when you have chronic pain/health issues?

While there are many possible answers to this question. The answer I’m writing about today is GAMES!

Not just any games, but COOPERATIVE, or as they’re called in the PC and game system world CO-OP games. Co-op games are exactly as they sound. You play TOGETHER rather than against each other. There are many board games that are cooperative as well so it’s not limited to gaming systems and computers. I completely understand that not everyone is into PC gaming or other gaming systems, so it’s important to be aware that there are more traditional games that are cooperative.

For the sake of keeping this post short and to the point I’m going to talk about my current favourite co-op game to play with my spouse…OVERCOOKED! We recently started playing the newly released Overcooked 2 since we beat the original. Each level you are tasked with making a specific recipe, or multiple recipes, and the tickets come in quick! So not only do you have to make sure you complete the dishes in the allotted time, but each level is full of challenging obstacles. Cutting boards are sometimes placed on the opposite side of the kitchen AWAY from the produce and meat, or counters will slide and rotate so that you can no longer access your pots cooking on the stove, and all kinds of shenanigans! Each level is unique e.g. cooking in a space station, or in a castle-like building in the dark!

Why do we love overcooked so much, and how does it help with our communication? (If you haven’t clicked on the OVERCOOKED link above, please do and you will see the hilarity for yourself on youtube) You CANNOT play overcooked without strategizing and coordinating with each other the entire time. You have to constantly be talking and telling the other person what you’re doing so that you can cook all of the recipes in the fastest amount of time possible. This means analyzing the level and figuring out which way works best. Are you going to chop the vegetables, or your partner? Do you need to run over and put the finished dish on the conveyor belt, AND grab the dishes and wash them?

I don’t know how many of you have watched Gordon Ramsay’s “Hell’s Kitchen,” but if your chefs aren’t communicating, disaster is certain to strike. It can take multiple tries to beat a level, and multiple approaches to find the one that works. It is hilarious to (playfully) yell at each other to hurry and get the last dish out, or to chop like the wind!

Playing games is a great way to have FUN with each other that doesn’t require leaving the house, nor expending precious little energy. And, as I’ve hopefully conveyed, if you choose the right game it can be a way to encourage communication.

If cooking isn’t your thing I highly recommend Death Squared. It is a cooperative puzzler that, like overcooked, requires you both to problem solve and talk to each other the entire time. Need a good cooperative board game? Check out Pandemic! There are SO many amazing cooperative games on the market, and a simple google search will give you a list of many to look into.

Communication in a relationship is KEY, and when you have an extra obstacle like health issues, communication just becomes that much more important. Relationships take constant effort, and games are a great way to exercise and practice communication, while also being a low key way to spend time with each other creating fun and lasting memories.

What if you really can’t find any cooperative games you like? While this is doubtful, if you are pressed for money go and dig out the checkers board, or a deck of cards! Any game that you and your partner can play together, whether it’s cooperative or not is a great chance to connect and enjoy spending time with each other. Our favourite non-cooperative game at the moment is called Sushi Go Party, but we also love the classic Stratego as well as Ticket To Ride.

Go forth and play! Have fun, and feel good! XO

*Disclaimer* I do not make any profit off of this blog, and anything I suggest, or provide links to is just for those who are curious! I am in no way compensated. Should this ever change, I will absolutely inform you, my readers!

P.S. Games can be a GREAT distraction from pain!

 

 

The Ultimate PeachTalk, and who you Feel Comfortable Talking to About it.

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The ultimate PeachTalk, is talk that is all about your vulva, vagina, and reproductive organs. Do you feel comfortable having PeachTalk with everyone? Is there someone, or a group of people who you feel the most comfortable discussing these topics with? What about when it comes to seeking medical and mental health assistance?

Have you ever found yourself sitting in your doctors office, or mental health providers office, only to be met with a different provider than who you scheduled your appointment with?

When I had my first meeting with my current surgeon/obgyn I was taken back to the exam room, but instead of meeting my female surgeon/obgyn, a male resident walked in the room. Now, this wasn’t a huge deal and I just went with the flow, but it would have been nice to have been told that I would be meeting with someone other than my main doctor. I was anxious and confused when I didn’t see who I thought I would be seeing, even though after the resident took my general info, my obgyn who I made the appointment with eventually made her way in for the actual exam.

Recently a fellow Endo, Adeno, IC, PFD sister had a somewhat similar situation when she showed up at her appointment to meet her counselor. She had specifically requested a female counselor well in advance due to the sensitive nature of what she needed to discuss in her sessions, and needing someone who she felt could relate to her, and help her through some difficult decisions. When she arrived at her appointment, she was put on the spot by being told she is going to see a male intern counselor because the female counselor would be leaving the practice soon. This put my friend in a sticky place, as she didn’t want the male counselor to feel she didn’t want his services due to any presumed incompetence, or lack of capability as a counselor, but because she really feels more comfortable talking to a fellow woman in lieu of lack of medical knowledge.

For quite a few women the choice to see a female counselor rather than a male counselor is not because of any prejudice, but because with gynecological issues it can be genuinely hard, or anxiety producing to talk to someone who doesn’t know what it’s like, for example, to have a period. If you need to discuss mental health/emotional issues that revolve around your reproductive organs (or other medical issues that only/primarily women face) with a counselor who doesn’t have a medical background, it can feel more comfortable/imperative to talk to a woman counselor who can hopefully more readily understand the basics of some things that only women with physical health issues experience. For example, I don’t think I could open up to a male counselor about losing my fertility, in the same way I could talk to a woman about it; who I feel could at the very least picture the situation more readily.

With that said, I totally get (as I’m sure most of you do) that providers in the health fields are busy and may need help from their coworkers, or in my case my wonderful doctor helps to train new doctors. But…those who work in the health care field should make an effort to inform patients if they will be meeting with more practitioners than they are aware of/if they will be meeting with an entirely different practitioner than who they made their appointment with. I believe this is common courtesy and it’s not fair to put someone on the spot.

What am I getting at? Please don’t feel guilty if you need to see a specific health provider to feel safe and comfortable discussing your very personal health issues. Obviously if you’re being prejudiced and have no valid reason to see a practitioner of a certain gender that’s not ok, but it IS ok if you have good reason for doing so. Practitioners/providers of all kinds should understand if a patient feels more comfortable talking to a certain provider who can better identify with the patients situation and so on and so forth. In an ideal world we’d all be 100% comfortable being examined by/working through mental/emotional issues with anyone of any gender, but sometimes there are situations where it helps us to work with someone we feel can relate to us in a particular situation that we’re trying to work through (especially in cases where a lack of medical knowledge can be a pitfall).

I hope that if any of you have been in a similar situation that you won’t feel bad about needing to see the provider you feel can help you best, and to whom you feel you can open up to. I will say to keep in mind that gender identity/sexual organs doesn’t/don’t guarantee understanding, but there’s NO shame or guilt in knowing that you need to specifically be seen by a male, or female, or someone who identifies otherwise! If you’re put on the spot, please don’t feel like you have to see whoever they want you to see. If you made a specific appointment and even went so far as to explain why, they should respect that, and provide you with the courtesy of informing you AHEAD of time should the practitioner be unavailable. Your permission should always be asked before automatically scheduling you to see someone else.

Special thanks to my dear friend for inspiring this entire post, and giving me permission to share her experience! XO

Myth: If you have endometriosis you are automatically infertile.

Fact: While many women’s fertility is compromised by endometriosis, having endometriosis doesn’t mean you’re automatically infertile. Fertility has many factors and a lot of it depends on the location of the endometriosis and the severity. Fertility can also be greatly improved with excision (cutting out of the endometriosis lesions) and many women have been able to conceive naturally once the endometriosis is properly removed.

 

Thought She Had Cervical Cancer… and Tips for a Less Painful Pap!

I recently had the great misfortune of finding out that my mother in law, and sister in law thought that my sister in law was dying of cervical cancer. I ALSO had the great fortune of being able to tell my MIL and SIL that in fact she WASN’T dying of cervical cancer, because as it turned out not only does she not have cervical cancer, she doesn’t have pre-cancerous cells!

How can this happen? Well, as disgusting and horrendous as it is, a lot of doctors don’t do their jobs when explaining health issues/POTENTIAL health issues to their patients in ways that are clearly understood. You see, after talking to my MIL/SIL I discovered that she had been told she had pre-cancerous cells, then told that they made a mistake and that she didn’t. She was also told that she has the worst HPV strain, AND that she needs to “get healthy” so she can “fight the cancer in the future.” When you’re told that you have HPV this alone can be a shock, and can cause you to not be thinking clearly; top it with having information phrased in the worst way possible that is fear mongering, and not having an explanation of what hpv is and how common it is you can see how things get lost in translation.

The first thing  I was able to explain is that there are different types of hpv. To keep things simple there are two groups; one is low risk and the other is high risk. Low risk hpv causes things like genital warts and does not cause cancer. The high risk hpv group has the POTENTIAL to cause cancer which means that you’re at an increased risk of cancer, but NOT that cancer is inevitable. Thankfully we have pap smears that are really good at catching cervical cell changes before/when they occur, and if you have high risk hpv all this means is that you need to have pap smears more frequently so that any changes will be caught early and treated if necessary. Think of it like a suspicious mole. If you notice a mole on your body that has changed, and doesn’t look quite right you get it checked out at the doctor. The doctor may look at it and conclude that it isn’t cancer, but that it COULD become cancer and so they remove it thereby PREVENTING the possible cancer. This is the same concept applied to cervical cancer. I just want to reiterate that having high risk hpv just means you’re more at RISK for developing cancer, and not that you WILL get it. If you are diligent with your screenings it will be kept well in hand. Yes, sometimes people may have really aggressive cervical cancer, or it’s not caught early. There are always exceptions to the rule. But so long as you do your pap smears, and do them diligently when you know you have extra risk factors, you’re doing everything you can to be proactive. Cervical cancer is slow growing so for the majority it is able to be caught and treated before it becomes life threatening!

On to my next point. Having hpv doesn’t make you “dirty” or “slutty” and you shouldn’t feel ashamed! Unfortunately sometimes regardless of our best efforts we contract infections, viruses, or bacteria etc. It’s a part of being human! Often people with hpv have no symptoms because their bodies are able to quickly clear the infection, and so it is unknowingly spread. The same can be said of other sexually transmitted infections. Always do your best to protect yourself, but know that if you contract a sexually transmitted illness (regardless of your best efforts not to) that it really is just a part of life! There’s only so much we can do, and as long as we do the best we can there’s nothing to be ashamed of.

The reason my SIL’s doctor told her to get healthy in the worst phrasing possible, was to convey that by being a healthy weight and having an active lifestyle you decrease your risk of developing cancer. This applies to MOST if not ALL cancers across the board. Being overweight and sedentary is a risk for many health issues, and her doctor failed her by not explaining this in a way she understood.

If you develop pre-cancerous cells, or cervical cancer your doctor will treat you ASAP. There are many treatment options that usually include burning the affected tissues, or freezing, and if necessary a total hysterectomy. If you have high risk hpv, but NO cell changes then your doctor will require more frequent paps (usually yearly vs every 3 years) so that they can make sure that everything is ok, and so that they can treat you should cell changes arise. I’m going to provide you all with two links about hpv and cervical cancer that I hope you all will read through if you’re not well versed on the topics. It’s important for us to know about these possible health risks so that we can make informed choices! My goal is to help educate people with vulvas, vaginas, uteruses, ovaries, and fallopian tubes about their bodies so that they, YOU, can feel empowered and know what to do should you ever encounter these health issues. Read HERE about HPV and Cancer and read HERE for “Understanding Cervical Changes” if the pdf doesn’t work please read HERE

Lastly, I want to offer some tips that I’ve learned in the last year for making pap smears a little bit more bearable. I was petrified of having paps because of my severe pain, and I admittedly waited longer to get my paps than I should have. I hope by offering these tips that those of you who are also afraid will muster the courage to get your paps and not risk your health! (This also applies to those of you, like myself, who have had a total hyst and who are having your post op checks where they swab the vaginal cuff).

  1. Tell your doctor that it hurts! More specifically tell them if you have pelvic floor dysfunction, IC, Endo, Adeno etc. This may be a no brainer if your gyn is the same one you see each time, but if you go to a clinic where you may have different residents performing your pap it’s good to make sure they know your history.
  2. If they don’t offer, ASK for them to apply some lidocaine! They should have some on hand and it’s as simple as them applying a small amount and waiting a couple of minutes for it to take effect before inserting the speculum.
  3. If they don’t offer, ASK for them to use a smaller speculum! I honestly didn’t know they made smaller speculums until my awesome doctor pulled one out after learning of my conditions!

I realize these tips may not be life altering, but it WILL help make your pap a smidge better, and if it helps you to stay on top of your pap smears please do it! Cervical cancer is preventable the majority of the time (CDC estimates 93%!CDC), and a pap smear could save your life.

Please help me to spread around this factual information about hpv and cervical cancer! Every woman should know this information, and I hope that my tips will help those of you with pain to get through your paps with a little less trauma! XO #TakeCareOfYourPeach

Myth: I have high risk HPV so that means I will get cervical cancer no matter what.

Fact: High risk HPV is just that, a RISK. With regular screenings cervical cancer is highly preventable/treatable!

Why Me?

Hello wonderful readers!,

Tonight I find myself pondering the meaning of chronic pain/illness. I know that I’m not the only one who thinks of this from time to time, or perhaps very often.

Despite being well into my “journey” I still have times where I ask, “Why me?” What could I have possibly done to warrant so much pain in my life? Was I a horrible person in a past life?… Just genetically unlucky?  What is the PURPOSE?

Sometimes I can’t see any meaning or purpose, and to be honest I don’t think there’s a one size fits all answer to my questions.

Ultimately, I think we make our own meaning/purpose. Let me elaborate. Maybe because my illness/chronic pain has opened my eyes the purpose is to allow me to connect with this huge group of people from so many cultures, and backgrounds all over the world. Perhaps my pain is meant to show me that despite all of my ills I still have an amazing life, and that there’s always something to be grateful for no matter how seemingly insignificant…maybe it is to make me appreciate life more. On the other hand, maybe these struggles are a lesson not only for me, but for my spouse to learn how to be a team and not to sweat the small stuff. Honestly, I don’t know if there’s any rhyme or reason to illness/pain, while I consider myself to be a spiritual person who believes in a higher power, I do not consider myself religious. BUT, I know that regardless of any higher power, or grand plan that I benefit from deciding on the meaning/purpose of my pain.

You see, in my mind I think it’s a matter of perspective. There are certainly days where I have tunnel vision and no answer is good enough. I simply sit in a puddle of “why me?” but when I’m not stewing in a pot of self pity I see a lot of great things that I otherwise might never have seen. Like I touched on above, I’ve seen behind a huge certain. While I often feel angry that I’ve seen behind this certain because I can’t un-see all of the work I feel we have to do in the world; I also feel privileged to be a part of such a vast community. We may be marginalized but we certainly don’t take it lying down.

In my last blog post I talked about how illness/pain is only one part of who we are. As someone who has been in the chronic pain/illness community for quite a few years now I can also boast that it’s filled with beautiful, talented, intelligent, and compassionate people. Even on days when we feel like dying we STILL manage to get up and live. Even if we’re surviving second to second we’re still some of the biggest bad asses to ever walk the planet!

I used to feel sorry for myself despite managing to do so many household chores and support my spouse. I felt that because I was not doing MORE that I was somehow less or not an equal partner. But when you add in the extra distress I look back and realize that I was never less, and in fact, because I had a poorly functioning body that needed to work overtime to accomplish any task that I was actually doing far more! It really isn’t about what you can physically do though…at least to me, it’s about who you are inside. It’s about the deep desire to help others even when you can’t help yourself. It’s about the love that bursts out of you…it’s about being a genuinely kind and compassionate person, and I have to say that being a part of this community has shown me that the most compassionate, creative, and LOVING people who have the most to give the world are in our chronic pain/illness community.

What am I trying to say? That all of YOU are what make my chronic pain/illness mean something. Knowing that I am part of a community of people who have some of the brightest souls, and an incredible amount of perseverance. I don’t know a single one of you who doesn’t want the world to be a better place, and who doesn’t work tirelessly in their own way to make a positive impact (btw just you being alive and being the great person you are is a positive impact!)… that’s something that you can’t put a price on.

When you’re in a dark place, I hope you’ll remember you’re part of my purpose/meaning, and you make me grateful for my struggles.  I am proud to count myself among you, and I hope that you all find purpose/meaning in spite of/in your pain/illness and that you hold on to it tightly. XO 

P.S. I recently had to purchase a new set of dilators (turned out to be cheaper to buy the full set than the couple I need!) due to misplacing the sizes in my old set that I’ve worked my way up to. Would any of you be interested in a vaginal dilator give away for the starter sizes 1&2? They would of course be absolutely brand new and straight from the package. I know many of us tend to struggle financially and dilators can be expensive. Let me know what you think in the comments, on Twitter, or on Facebook!

Also, this Gif from giphy made me laugh giphy (10)

 

Myth: Endometriosis can be treated with hormones.

Fact: Hormones have no affect on endometriosis lesions, but they can mask symptoms in some. *There has been a lot of hubub about the FDA approving a new drug for Endometriosis called Orilissa. This drug is not a new treatment and is actually oral Lupron. Please do your research and do not fall prey to this potentially harmful drug!*

Who Are You? Life Aside from Illness.

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Who are you outside of pelvic/vulval-vaginal pain?

For many people, including myself, this can be a difficult question to grapple with…especially when it feels like your entire life hinges on a diagnosis(es). My life is nothing like I thought it would be. I’ve had to give up my original aspirations and make new ones, and in many ways I’m still fumbling around figuring out what my life is now. BUT, I am not my conditions. In my minuscule and perhaps meaningless opinion, I feel that our conditions, even though they can play a rather large role (if not the largest) are still only ONE aspect of who we are.

As I said, I had to give up many things and find new aspirations, and while it has been upsetting in many ways it has also shown me just how many things there are in life to enjoy. Where I had one, or two serious hobbies/passions before I now have even more. I love jigsaw puzzles, gardening, sewing by hand, needle felting, cooking, and the list goes on. So while I have “lost” one way of life, I’m finding my way into another. It is certainly influenced by my conditions, but in many ways it’s that influence that has shown me just how many different things comprise who I am. While I have managed to “move on” I definitely have grieved, and still grieve occasionally for my “former” life. Grief is a natural and healthy response to a major change like illness, and definitely has its place in the process of moving forward.

I think as people who are often marginalized and misunderstood for suffering with health related issues, we have to be careful not to pigeon hole ourselves and to let our conditions become our entire identity. While I feel passionate about advocating for gynecological health, I also feel that it is only ONE aspect of who I am and I am careful not to let it permeate my entire life. That is to say that other than writing and sharing information I feel is useful… in my day to day life I prefer to live like I’m a person who doesn’t have these struggles. I suppose a bit of “fake it til you make it” mentality. While I will give advice to friends who ask for it, I truthfully prefer to leave the health talk for my little corner of the internet. You see, I feel that if I get too consumed by being in groups and slapping the labels of my conditions all over myself that I’m only falling deeper into a pit that I’m trying my best to climb out of. I’ve seen too many people whose lives become consumed by their illness, and who can’t think about or do anything else, including get better because they’ve allowed themselves to be overtaken by a label. Don’t get me wrong, there is power in having a name for your condition and knowing that you’re not alone, but it can also be a bottomless pit if you forget everything else about what makes you, you.

If you’ve never taken a day to try and live without the shadow of your illness I highly recommend it. Obviously you can’t get away from something that is a part of you, but you can make the effort to spend some time away from the forums and the health talk. Make a day that revolves as little as possible around your health by focusing your energy on an art project, or some other task that will take your mind on a different journey. For some this may be easier said than done, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Sitting down for 15 minutes to do a jigsaw puzzle, read a book, or listen to some music can be all that’s needed to take your attention away from your health for just a short while.

Let’s do a little exercise, shall we? Take away your illness/conditions for a moment. Who are you? What makes you laugh? What excites you? Don’t forget these parts of yourself. If you’ve had to give up what made you laugh, or what made you feel good then think about what NEW things you could try. Not letting your illness be your sole definition is not only important on an individual level, but also on a relational level. If we forget who we are/don’t put in the effort to find/express new aspects of ourselves then we’re allowing ourselves to be a shell of our former selves and we’re not only taking away from ourselves, but our partners who are with us to share themselves and vice versa. Be bold! Don’t be afraid to try a new hobby, or way of expressing yourself. Join a book club or learn how to paint! There is something for everyone, and all is not lost when you have to leave things behind and start fresh.

I was never one for bucket lists, but I’ve found that in recent years making a mental bucket list has helped me to do more things, and to fight against being overtaken by my conditions. My latest addition to my bucket list is learning how to horseback ride.

So I ask you, who are you? XO

I had a dream recently in which I could hear this song in the background. I feel it’s somewhat relevant to this posts topic, but I’ll let you all speculate!

** Make sure to check out my guest post all about Sex with Interstitial Cystitis! The tips and advice are also applicable to other pelvic and vulval-vaginal pain conditions! http://bladder-help.com/sex-and-relationships-with-interstitial-cystitis/ **

 

Myth: You should wash your vulva with soap when bathing.

Truth: You should NEVER wash your vulva with soap because the vulva/vagina is self cleaning. Washing with soap can cause irritation, and upset the natural good bacteria necessary to keeping your vaginal ph where you want it to be! Always wash with water only!

 

Cleaning the Vulva & Vagina can Hurt your Health and your Sex Life.

Hey all!

Just a reminder that PeachTalk is the new name of what was formerly EndoGab! You can read about the name change HERE but in short, it was changed to be more inclusive of a variety of vulval-vaginal and pelvic pain disorders that women suffer from, and that impact our sex lives and relationships!

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Now that that’s out of the way, today I want to talk about cleaning the vulva and vagina…more specifically NOT cleaning the vulva and vagina, and what impact this has on our relationships/sex lives.

Before I get up on my soap box, I just want to say that I used to feel VERY self conscious about the way my vagina and vulva smelled. I was under the false impression that I needed to be perfumed and squeaky clean, and I thought that anything less was not only gross, but undesirable. However, over time I learned that this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Our vulvas and vaginas have very specific ph balances and are SELF-CLEANING. When we use soap, or other substances to “clean” our vaginas and vulvas we are not only disrupting their natural balance by harming the GOOD bacteria that needs to be there to keep us healthy, we’re also opening ourselves up to a world of hurt by causing vaginal/vulval irritation and infections. Our vaginas and vulvas were meant to be “washed” only with water if anything, because of their self cleaning nature and the need to maintain their delicate balance.

What if you feel like you REALLY smell? If you have a truly offensive odor coming from your nether region, there’s a good chance you have an infection going on possibly caused by the disruption in vaginal ph/bacteria. For example, one of the tell tale signs of a bacterial vaginosis infection is a fishy odor (Read more about BV HERE). If you have a funky odor please don’t be afraid to go and see your doctor. It happens to the best of us, and it’s best to treat an infection sooner rather than later so that it doesn’t become more aggressive. I know that it can feel embarrassing, but I assure you your doctor sees infections all of the time and it’s just an unfortunate part of being human.

On the other hand, if you feel like you don’t smell like you WANT to, but you have no infection you may need to consider showing yourself some love by learning to accept your unique scent! Sure, it might be great if our vaginas and vulvas could smell like cupcakes or field of flowers without causing harm, but part of the reason many of us think we should smell perfumed is because we’re constantly bombarded by advertisements telling us how we should look and smell and it’s simply not reality. You may even be surprised to hear that our sexual partners actually LIKE our natural scents and find it arousing (I personally was stunned to hear this from my own spouse!). Okay, maybe despite all of this we STILL want to smell like a plume of cotton candy, but is it worth it to cause irritation, pain, and infection?

It took me a while to come around to being ok with my natural scent, and to no longer be paranoid that my spouse doesn’t like it. Not only is it better for my health, it’s better for our sex life. It is hard to have sex when you’re not secure with how your genitals look or smell, and trying to achieve an unobtainable ideal of a vagina and vulva that smells like a bakery can cause serious irritation and infection, which is something we do NOT want when we have pelvic and vulval-vaginal conditions.

The reason I felt like I should write about this this week, is because not cleaning our vulvas and vaginas seems counter-intuitive despite it being correct, which can cause people to harm their genitals without realizing it, and the second reason is because in our current society I feel like I constantly see pseudo-scientific articles about herbs or other things to put in the vagina, and people peddling this cure and that cure also meant to be inserted in the vagina, and that is dangerous. Please never insert anything into your vagina unless it is prescribed by a knowledgeable and qualified medical practitioner, or unless you know it’s 100% safe. If you’d like to read more about how the vagina is self cleaning and why you shouldn’t use more than water, please read this really awesome and to the point article HERE 

Let me know in the comments if you have any insecurities you think I should write about, or if you have anything at all in regard to sex and relationships with vulval-vaginal pain that you would like me to discuss! In the mean time protect your peach, and love your peach! XO

False: Every woman should do Kegels to keep her vaginal muscles tight.

True: Women may have loose OR tight muscles and if they are already tight or overly tight doing kegels can cause a hypertoned pelvic floor to be WORSE and more painful. Always get evaluated by a pelvic floor therapist if you think you have pelvic floor muscle issues so that you can be guided to the right resources and exercises.