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    Millions of Women Struggle With PCOS In South Africa, So Let’s Unpack It

    That overwhelming frustration and anger that feels like it comes out of nowhere, but could probably be related to the inexplicable seven kilograms of weight you’ve just picked up this past year; a menstrual cycle with a mind of its own… also, what is up with these nipple hairs?

    If this sounds like a page out of your diary, it’s likely that you’re one of the 8-13% of women who suffer from a common but under-diagnosed condition called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Per one estimate, a staggering 8 million Southern African women are affected by PCOS, a complex hormonal disorder that often remains undiagnosed and misunderstood.

    READ MORE: “I Was Diagnosed With PCOS – Here’s What You Should Look Out For”

    Why we need to talk about PCOS in South Africa

    Despite so many women carrying the condition, it remains largely unspoken about in social gatherings over tipples of wine. And yet, for women with PCOS in South Africa, it feels all-encompassing, affecting their moods, their self-confidence, mental health and even their fertility.

    And as severe as its symptoms are known to be, PCOS typically goes undiagnosed for months and in most cases for years. “Many women and sometimes even their healthcare providers shrug off the symptoms associated with PCOS as a natural part of being a woman. Sadly, this all too often leads to delayed diagnoses,” says Dr Bradley Wagemaker, Medical Director at Lamelle Pharmaceuticals. “It’s sadly very common for women to suffer in silence, thinking that the uncomfortable, inconvenient and even traumatic symptoms of PCOS are nothing more than a normal part of being a woman, or a burden for them to deal with on their own,” says Dr Wagemaker. “Instead, the message we should be sending to all women is that PCOS is manageable and that you may not have to forgo your weight loss goals or your dream of starting a family.”

    “While strides are being made in the medical industry and through PCOS Awareness Month in September, to improve the number of women being correctly diagnosed and treated at an early stage, women need to educate themselves on the signs to look out for,” he says. So, let’s talk about it.

    READ MORE: Refined Carbs Are Super-Bad For PCOS Symptoms — So, What Can You Eat Then?

    What exactly is PCOS?

    PCOS is a multifactorial hormonal disorder affecting individuals with ovaries, primarily during their reproductive years. Although its precise cause remains unclear, genetics, hormones, and environment play roles in its development. Surprisingly, the name sheds light on the condition. Poly, meaning many, and cysts, meaning small, liquid-filled sacs. These many sacs sit inside a woman’s ovary and can create hormonal imbalances that lead to difficulties with egg development and its release. This often means late or completely absent periods, or periods that seem to go on forever.

    Since the condition is largely hormonal, PCOS causes an overproduction of androgens, a hormone found in large numbers in people with testes and in smaller numbers in people with ovaries. It’s also closely linked to insulin resistance, a condition where your body doesn’t use glucose from your blood for energy efficiently, leading to weight gain.

    READ MORE: The Best Way To Lose Weight When You Have PCOS

    What are the symptoms of PCOS?

    Some of its signs include:

    Heavy, irregular or even absent periods

    Excess facial and body hair (resulting from elevated androgen levels, a hormone most prevalent in men)

    Balding or hair thinning

    Oily skin and acne (mostly at the bottom of your face: along the jaw, chin and neck)

    Small cysts on the ovaries

    Women with PCOS may also be more susceptible to insulin resistance, weight gain and psychosocial disorders. It could also lead to endometrial cancer, and other serious and life-threatening conditions, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

    PCOS also often leads to infertility in women (around 40% in SA); with the hormonal imbalance brought about by PCOS, the ovaries are unable to grow and release eggs, stunting the ovulation stage in a woman’s cycle – that all-important time for baby-making.

    While all this sounds grim, there are ways of treating the condition that involves a multi-pronged approach. Another key? Having a medical professional willing to hear you out and really investigate your symptoms to make a thorough diagnosis.

    How is PCOS diagnosed?

    Diagnosis of PCOS is typically based on a combination of clinical symptoms, hormonal testing, and imaging (such as ultrasound to identify ovarian cysts). It’ll also involve a thorough taking of your medical history and specific tests.

    According to the Rotterdam Consensus criteria, the diagnosis of PCOS depends on the presence of two of the following criteria:

    Ovulatory dysfunction (irregular or absent periods)

    Clinical or biochemical hyperandrogenism signs (unwanted body or facial hair or acne)

    Small ovarian cysts visible via ultrasound

    READ MORE: 7 Reasons Your Period Might Be Late — Other Than Pregnancy

    What’s the treatment for PCOS?

    Get active

    There is no cure for PCOS. By and large, medical professionals will advise lifestyle changes. This will include getting regular exercise of at least 30 minutes a day. This could include walking, hiking or running. Yoga also helps, since it’s known to lower the stress hormone cortisol, which is a key aggressor in PCOS symptoms.

    Eat right

    For a holistic approach, the food you eat plays a big part in healing the symptoms that create PCOS. “When it comes to the influence of food in the progression of PCOS, studies have shown that eating foods with low glycemic and high fibre index can decrease some of the complications of PCOS, such as infertility, ‘leaky gut syndrome’, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease,” says Dr Carmen-Rose Madiebo, author of The PCOS Diet. “Foods rich in fibre, and phytonutrients and with a low glycemic index should be prioritized as they can help decrease complications of PCOS. On the other hand, processed foods should be completely eliminated as this can further worsen PCOS symptoms.”

    Lean on meds

    Of course, there are medications on hand that help alleviate the symptoms of PCOS but they’re not limited to one pill a day. Rather, you’ll find a collection of medications, each to treat a specific symptom.

    Birth control

    Doctors often prescribe birth control, which regulates the menstrual cycle and can reduce symptoms. But this might not work for you if you want to fall pregnant or are unwilling to go this route.


    Since people with PCOS offer suffer from insulin resistance, medication used to treat diabetes can be prescribed. Metformin is one such drug that helps the body process insulin effectively.

    Trying to get pregnant? There are treatment options for you, including those that induce ovulation (the release of an egg), surgery to remove androgen-producing tissue and IVF.

    Try supps

    Supplements can play a significant role in reducing your symptoms. These work by reducing the troubling symptoms that come PCOS.


    Inositol is a nutritional supplement that helps regulate insulin activity in the body. In this process, the cells in a woman’s body are better able to use the glucose stores available, helping to regulate blood insulin levels, the ripple effect of which is normalised androgen levels and improved PCOS symptoms (bye-bye, weight gain, so long, nipple hairs). This also improves fertility for women who are trying to get pregnant.

    Try these supplements:



    Solgar Inositol


    According to sources, the popular supplement berberine holds promise for women battling PCOS. That’s because it could help the ovaries produce more eggs, reduce the amount of cyst growth and lower androgen levels.

    Vitamin D

    Studies show that when women with PCOS took vitamin D for three months, menstrual regularity improved. It can also improve fertility and pregnancy rates. Plus, despite us living in sunny South Africa, many people are deficient in this nutrient, so stock up!

    Vitamin B

    Vitamin B12 and folate are game-changers when it comes to female fertility. They’re also thought to tackle insulin resistance and mood regulation, something PCOS sufferers could be dealing with.


    Since people with PCOS often have low-grade inflammation throughout the body, omega-3 shines as something that’s anti-inflammatory. It also fights insulin resistance and treats high levels of your total cholesterol.


    Those with insulin resistance are more likely to have lower levels of magnesium, per research. Magnesium-rich foods are great for boosting your levels. Think leafy greens like spinach as well as pumpkin seeds, almonds and cashews. A supplement might also help.


    Zinc’s main focus is the regulation of cell growth but it also deals with hormone release. In a review of studies, zinc was found to positively affect insulin resistance. Bonus: when you take it right before and during your periods, it could lower period cramps. More

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    This Is Why You’re Starving After An Intense Day At The Office

    Can you barely make it through the door after a day at work without nose-diving into a bowl of hummus? You may think it’s boredom or stress levels making your appetite surge after an intense day in the office, but research shows that mental exhaustion can be just as appetite-inducing as physical work.

    Studies, such as a paper from 2022 published in Current Biology, show when we’re focussing on a mentally straining task our brain not only gets fatigued but also becomes hungry.

    Every cell in our body needs the energy to function, says Nuna Kamhawi, a registered nutritionist and coach – and that includes our brain.

    ‘Our digestive system, our muscles and even our brain is using up energy in those moments of complete relaxation. So it’s no surprise that when our organs work harder, they require more energy to function – and that’s not just true of our muscles when we exercise, but also of our brains when we go into deep focus.’
    Nuna Kamhawi

    Enter glutamate

    The same paper found that when we’re focused and concentrating on a mentally exhausting task (we hear you with those end-of-month reports) it can cause, potentially, a toxic by-product to build up in the front part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex. This by-product, called glutamate, Kamhawi explains, may ‘also be the reason for the signs of fatigue we experience after a long day of deep work.’

    But, how come it makes us grab for a snack, to suppress our appetite? ‘Intense thinking requires more energy from calories, which is the reason why stress and anxiety can cause an increase in appetite in some individuals,’ says Kamhawi.

    READ MORE: Um, People On TikTok Are Eating The Peels Of Fruit & Veggies – And They’re So Good

    And although the build-up of glutamate is more centred around fatigue, when we’re tired our stress hormones means our appetite will also change. So, if we’re regularly pulling late nights trying to meet deadlines, and you’re trying to quit sugar, how can you fuel your hungry brain on healthy options?

    Kamhawi explains, ‘It’s really important to ensure you have a balanced diet, full of variety, colour, taste and textures so that you don’t miss out on any of the essential macro and micronutrients.’

    Here are the three food groups you should include:

    Complex carbohydrates

    ‘Our brain’s main source of fuel is glucose, which means it’s crucial to include ample carbohydrates in your diet,’ explains Kamhawi. Switch simple carbs like sugary snacks and white rice or bread for complex carbs like wholemeal bread, brown rice and brown pasta. Also, pair them with a good source of protein (meat, fish, beans, pulses) and healthy fats (like olive oil or avocado) to reduce the blood sugar spike and crash and have energy that lasts longer.

    READ MORE: 4 Natural Sweeteners That Are Better Than Sugar, According To A Dietician


    ‘This is a major building block of the brain and plays an important role in memory and cognition. To get your daily dose add oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel or fresh tuna to your diet, or other foods such as walnuts, chia seeds or food supplements,’ Kamhawi adds.


    ‘These protect the brain from oxidative stress, which causes cognitive decline. Stick to brightly coloured fruits and vegetables- the brighter the colour, the higher the concentration of antioxidants. Choose vegetables full of beta-carotene, like carrots, Lycopene is also found in tomatoes, while anthocyanins are found in blueberries,’ says Kamhawi.

    This article was originally published by Sarah Finley on Women’s Health UK. More

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    No One Is You And That Is Your Power: Your Genetic Code. Decoded.

    Your health outcomes can be influenced by genetic factors, as well as your diet, lifestyle and environmental changes. Because each of us is so unique, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to holistic wellness. We’re big on that at Wholesomebae! Instead of doing what works okay for most, you can do what works best for you through DNA testing. It’s personalised medicine at its best, allowing me to take a uniquely tailored approach that uplifts you to a level that many people never get to access. Through this we bypass constantly treating the symptoms and get right down to the root cause, resulting in the most sought-after, eternal results.

    A DNA test can provide you with valuable information about potential genetic health risks as it can also offer insights into traits that you might have inherited or potential health risks that you are unaware of. 

    How can Wholesomebae Wellness help you?

    Maybe you’re already at the top of your game, but you want to go higher?

    Suffering from IBS or unexplained weight gain and mood swings?

    Sudden adult acne and breakouts?

    Maybe you’ve been living with a condition for a while and haven’t been able to shake or break it?

    Maybe you suddenly, unexpectedly, inexplicably got sick and you need to take an integrative approach to recovery.

    You only have to do the DNA test once in your life. Your genes never change.

    Whatever it is that you’re trying to achieve or overcome, you want answers. With genetic testing, you can find them. However big or small, fit or frail, sick or strong, you can get better and live the best possible life that you’re capable of.

    The DNA testing covers:

    Genetic Health Risks. Identification of specific genetic variants associated with certain health conditions, such as hereditary diseases ( e.g. diabetes, depression, Alzheimer’s to name a few), vitamin and mineral deficiencies or predispositions to certain illnesses. 

    Carrier Status. You can learn if you carry genetic mutations that could potentially be passed on to your children, even if you don’t show symptoms yourself. 

    Pharmacogenomics. Tired of wasting money on the wrong medication and supplements? Genetic testing provides Insights into how your body might respond to certain medications based on your genetic makeup. 

    Traits and Characteristics. Discover traits that you may have inherited.

    Wellness and Lifestyle. recommendations for diet, exercise, and lifestyle based on your genetic profile. 

    Price includes: test delivered + collected from your home/destination of choice + 60-75min consultation + tailored meal plan.

    See a sample DNA report to discover your wellness potential HERE.

    Understanding these connections

    Being wholesome connotates to organic, authentic and well-balanced living. Not only does it include being healthy, but also happy, fulfilled and aligned. We as human beings need to understand the connection between mind, body and soul by realizing that these parts – in alignment – make us whole. By understanding these connections, we’re able to reduce and cure environmentally induced illnesses, reverse ageing, naturally prolong our lives, truly understand why prevention is better than cure and personally harness the power that we possess inside of us, in order to be in control of our health and quality of life.

    Holistic wellness

    When it comes to holistic wellness, I embrace all aspects of your being – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual – through DNA testing, integrative nutrition, epigenetics and mindful practices. The Wholesomebae holistic wellness process starts with a consultation and relevant investigations DNA testing. This is followed by a personalized management plan and ongoing review to ensure optimal health results and maintenance.


    This notion of viewing food goes further than the number of calories you consume at every mealtime. It combines medical insights into foods that not only nourish, but also heal your body and its organs, too. It aims to educate my Wholesomebae followers on topics around their digestive health, the gut-brain connection and how imbalances impact their health while addressing genetic predispositions, environmental impacts as well as physiological or psychological factors. Epigenetic changes can have significant effects on gene expression patterns and cellular function. They can be stable and heritable, meaning they can be passed down from one generation to the next, but they can also be reversible and responsive to environmental cues. Epigenetic modifications are crucial in various biological processes, including embryonic development, cellular differentiation, ageing and the development of diseases such as cancer.

    Understanding epigenetics has the potential to shed light on how environmental factors and lifestyle choices can impact our health and disease susceptibility. It also opens up possibilities for the development of novel therapeutic approaches that target epigenetic modifications to treat diseases.

    For more information, please visit More

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    Empower Your Journey: Unveiling The Secret To Strong Bones With MenaCal.7™

    As life’s adventures unfold, strong bones become the foundation that supports our dreams and ambitions. Introducing MenaCal.7™, your support in nurturing bone health, empowering women to take charge of their vitality from the earliest years. Let’s delve into why investing in bone health is a lifelong gift we owe to ourselves.

    Early Years: Building a Foundation for Life

    MenaCal.7™ isn’t just a supplement; it’s an investment in lifelong wellness. By fortifying bone structure from an early age, it establishes a robust foundation for an active lifestyle. As the years unfold, this investment translates into graceful ageing, empowering women to embrace life’s every phase with unwavering confidence.MenaCal.7™ understands this pivotal phase, offering a unique blend of calcium, Vitamin D3, and the secret ingredient – Vitamin K2 (MK-7). Together, they provide optimal bone development and calcium absorption, providing a solid foundation for an active life ahead.

    READ MORE: What To Eat Before A Morning Workout, According To Nutritionists

    A Lifelong Partner

    The journey of womanhood is diverse and dynamic, and so is the support MenaCal.7™ provides. Whether you’re embracing motherhood, pursuing a career, or relishing your golden years, strong bones are your steadfast companions. They enable you to dance, run, and embrace every moment with confidence and grace.MenaCal.7™ isn’t just about bone health; it’s about embracing life’s chapters with strength and resilience. As women, our bones weave stories of perseverance and achievement. With MenaCal.7™ as your wellness partner, you’re not just investing in bone health – you’re investing in a lifetime of vitality. Empower your journey, starting today, and unlock the secret to strong, resilient bones that support your unique path through womanhood. More

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    Anthropologist, Poet And Author Lebohang Masango On Exploring Paths Less Travelled

    Despite her mother being anxious about what career prospects this rare path would open for her, Lebohang allowed passion to trump fear. “I’ve always been a person who follows my heart. Anthropology was something I enjoyed and could spend hours doing and thinking about. So, I asked mom to just trust me,” she shares. 

    Lebohang studied anthropology at a time when there was a big shift towards nurturing a new breed of anthropologists whose work wouldn’t only live in academic journals and textbooks. “Because anthropology involves studying people, we want to create work that will be seen and tangibly change people’s lives,” she enthuses. 

    READ MORE: Banesa Tseki On How Yoga Gave Her A New Lease On Life

    Through the many worldviews that anthropology afforded her, Lebohang has gone on to craft a bold career that challenges the order of things and makes space for fresh perspectives — even the unpopular ones. 


    Her biggest breakthrough to date, she says, was a campaign where Standard Bank gave a few influencers a small budget and asked them what leap of faith they would take if money wasn’t a biggie. The year was 2016, and Lebohang had been feeling incredibly overwhelmed with putting together her master’s dissertation. “I remembered how much joy reading brought me as a child and toyed with writing for children because my brain was desperate for something new,” she says. At the time, poetry, her master’s dissertation and adulting had left her wallowing in frustration, she adds. “Writing for children is more difficult than writing for adults but it was a challenge that I thoroughly enjoyed,” she says. 

    A series of creatively planned events led to Lebohang self-publishing the award-winning Mpumi’s Magic Beads in 2017, followed by The Great Cake Contest a year later. In the same way that her socio-political beliefs were layered in the storyline of Mpumi’s Magic Beads – and influenced by her Honours research on primary school policies on hair and the effect it has on young girls – Lebohang’s new adult novel is centred around her 2019 Master’s thesis on adult women’s choice to enter into consensual relationships with men of a particular financial and social standing. 

    READ MORE: Actress Shannon Esra On Learning To Trust Her Intuition


    Lebohang has read 2000+ books to date, a habit she’s grateful for but is also quick to admit that, “I have slowed down on reading in my adult years because, well…Adulthood! [chuckles]”. Currently a social anthropology PhD candidate at the University of Pretoria, Lebohang wanted her debut novel The Soft Life: Love, choice and modern dating to explore a new narrative. “Academia tends to problematise romantic relationships, especially around young Black women and men. I’m coming from a perspective of ‘what else is there to talk about when we remove illness, stigma and an overbearing focus on violence?’ I believe that the book has done what I was taught in anthropology – to make sure that my work lives beyond the very rigid walls of academia,” she explains.  

    The never-before-explored themes in The Soft Life have already earned some disapproval — even from her own mother. However, she’s willing to take it all in her stride because she believes it’s important to always make room for new perspectives. “Being on the opposite side of people’s moral stances has been hard but receiving feedback from people who totally get the book has been affirming,” she says. Now that Lebohang proved her resilience through an emotionally taxing process of writing an entire novel, what’s next on the cards for her? “I’m working hard to submit my PhD dissertation, all 80 000 words — that’s a very big thing that I need to accomplish.” 

    READ MORE: Exactly How To Be More Confident When Networking, According To Women In Business


    “Taking walks, sleeping, reading, spending time with my partner, listening to jazz and watching trashy reality TV shows. My anthropologist brain’s always trying to search for the meaning being created through these reality TV show moments. I think they’re incredibly valuable!” More

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    Why Am I Bleeding During Sex? Gynaecologists Explain Common Reasons And Treatments

    So you just had a nice romp in the sack and now, you’re dutifully peeing to avoid a UTI. (Great job, by the way.) But as you’re wiping, you see blood. What does that mean?

    Before you panic and text all of your friends for help, take a few deep breaths. Bleeding during or after sex, while jarring in the moment, isn’t necessarily a cause for concern, especially if there isn’t a ton of blood.

    “It’s not an uncommon thing that we [as doctors] hear about,” says Dr Lyndsey Harper, a board-certified ob-gyn and founder of sexual wellness app Rosy. “And the reason for that is because it can happen in so many different scenarios.”

    In many cases, bleeding during or after sex could be due to menstruation, or a microtear in the vagina. And the good news is, even if there’s a more serious reason (like a larger tear, or an STI), it’s likely treatable. Still, you’ll want to schedule a visit to your gynaecologist if the bleeding is heavy, bright red, or accompanied by pain—and, most importantly, if it happens more than twice in a brief window of time, says Dr Harper.

    Meet the Experts:

    Want to learn more? No need to crowdsource from your group chat: Women’s Health rounded up all the info you need about the common causes of bleeding during or after sex, including how to treat it and when to check in with your doc about it.

    What are some common reasons for bleeding after sex?

    There are many reasons you might experience bleeding during or after sex, so it’s always a good idea to talk to a doctor if you’re concerned. But here are some of the most common explanations, per ob-gyns.

    1. You’re on (or you just finished) your period.

    This is one of the most common reasons—and also one of the least worrisome, says Dr Harper.

    If your period recently ended, or it’s about to begin, you might see blood that’s slightly darker and browner in colour. “You can’t count on this a hundred percent of the time, but most of the time, if [the bleeding] is related to your period, the blood is going to be a dark brown,” she explains.

    2. You tore your hymen.

    You might have heard the myth that your hymen “breaks” after your first time having sex. The truth: It’s a little less one-size-fits-all than that. While many people do have a hymen, or tissue around their vagina, it doesn’t necessarily tear the first time you have intercourse, says Dr Harper. Sometimes, it can tear at an earlier age, due to tampon usage or certain kinds of exercise. And sometimes, a person can even have penetrative sex several times before their hymen tears, Dr Harper explains.

    If this happens to you, you’ll notice a distinct bright red colour. You’ll also probably feel a very brief, “sharp” moment of discomfort that’s more shocking than it is painful, says Dr. Harper.

    3. You’re experiencing vaginal dryness.

    There are many factors that can cause vaginal dryness, including birth control, breastfeeding, or menopause. “Vaginal dryness can lead to thinning of the vaginal wall and increased friction during intercourse. That can create little tears, which can bleed,” says Dr Harper.

    The words “vaginal tearing” might make you wince, but this is another very common cause of postcoital bleeding. Your best bet: Loading up on lube in preparation for sex, says Dr Brandye Wilson-Manigat, a board-certified ob-gyn and sex coach. She recommends adding a high-quality water-based or silicone-based lubricant into your sexual routine.

    If you’re going through menopause and having a persistent issue with bleeding, though, Dr Harper suggests setting up an appointment with your gynaecologist, who might recommend a hormone replacement. “Lack of oestrogen during menopause can lead to lots of other issues in addition to vaginal bleeding, so it’s always worth a discussion with your healthcare provider,” she explains.

    4. You just had sex that was a bit rougher than usual.

    Another reason you might have some vaginal tearing? Rough sex, or a larger-than-usual penis or strap-on, explains Dr Wilson-Mangiat. Slight tearing could be more likely if you haven’t had sex or been penetrated at all recently, adds Dr Nicole Williams, an ob-gyn at the Gynecology Institute of Chicago. “If it’s been a while since you’ve had sex, the tender skin around the vagina may have a microtear and cause some spotting,” says Dr Williams.

    In many instances, these tears are small and can heal on their own, assures Dr Harper. If you’re spotting slightly or the bleeding stops, it might just be a sign to tread more carefully (and with more lube) next time. But if the bleeding is heavy and insistent, you may have a larger tear that requires medical treatment.

    “You might notice [a bit of blood] on your toilet paper and think, ‘Oh, let me keep on eye on this.’ But if it’s a large tear, you’re going to be bleeding heavily, it’s going to be bright red blood and you’re going to need attention to make it stop,” she explains.

    5. You have a skin condition that makes you susceptible to tearing or bleeding.

    In some cases, the light bleeding could be a result of a skin condition that caused tearing. For example, a medical skin condition called lichen sclerosus, which can contribute to irritation and itching of the vulva in the prepubescent stage and after menopause, is also a source of tearing or bleeding after sex, Dr Wilson-Manigat explains.

    6. You have cervical polyps.

    Cervical polyps are one of the more common reasons for bleeding during sex that Dr Wilson-Manigat has seen in her practice. “These are benign growths on the cervix that are similar to a skin tag you would see on another area of your body,” she says. “But the difference between a skin tag and a polyp is that polyps can bleed very easily with light touch, which is why you may have bleeding from them during sexual activity.”

    Most of the time, they can be found during your routine pelvic exam and pap smear. Dr Harper stresses that they aren’t cancerous, but should still be addressed by a gynaecologist, so set up an appointment with your doc if you think you might be prone to polyps.

    7. You’re pregnant.

    Before you’ve even taken a test, light bleeding could be your first clue that you’re pregnant. One of the initial signs of early pregnancy can be vaginal bleeding, also known as implantation bleeding, which can occur right after sex, says Dr Alexandra Bausic, a board-certified gynaecologist and sex educator at Let’s Talk Sex. The cause of bleeding is the implantation of the embryo inside your uterus, so it may show up at any time, unrelated to penetration, Dr Bausic notes.

    If you think there’s a chance you could be pregnant and you’re noticing bleeding during sex or in general, take a test and then give your gyno a call. And if you’re further along in your pregnancy, bleeding during or after sex isn’t a totally abnormal occurrence—but you should also let your doctor know, just so they can make sure everything’s okay, Dr Harper suggests.

    “There are causes for bleeding during pregnancy that are not a big deal and then there are causes for bleeding during pregnancy that are a really big deal,” she says. “If the placenta is over the cervix, if you’re going into pre-term labour… There are a lot of things we want to rule out before we say, ‘eh, not a big deal.’”

    8. You have cervicitis.

    Another one of the more common explanations for bleeding during or after sex is cervicitis. While the word may sound scary, what’s basically happening is an inflammation of the cervix, says Williams.

    In some cases, a common infection such as bacterial vaginosis (BV) or an allergic reaction to latex condoms or certain feminine hygiene products causes inflammation in the cervix, according to the Mayo Clinic. But cervicitis can be easily treated with a topical antibiotic, Dr. Williams says.

    9. You have an STI.

    If you’ve been experiencing other symptoms down there—including difficulty peeing, discharge that smells more odorous than usual, or discharge that appears to be green or yellow in colour—you might have an STI, says Harper. “Gonorrhea and chlamydia can infect the cervix and make it fragile, so irritation to the cervix can make it bleed more readily,” she explains.

    Luckily, gonorrhoea and chlamydia are both treatable—just set up an appointment with your doctor, who can run some tests and help you get treatment. In more rare cases, an HPV infection could be causing some type of cervical pre-cancer, but don’t panic: Your doctor will flag any abnormalities with your pap smear first.

    10. You have a yeast infection.

    A sexually transmitted infection may not always be the cause—yeast infections can also be to blame for vaginal bleeding, says Dr Alyssa Dweck, an ob-gyn and author of The Complete A To Z For Your V. When you have a yeast infection, your vagina becomes sensitive, swollen and inflamed, which can lead to bleeding when you wipe, have sex, or itch the area, Dr. Harper adds.

    Chances are, if you have a yeast infection, other symptoms—namely, painful vaginal itching and clumpy, adherent discharge—will present themselves first, explains Dr. Harper.

    11. You have cervical cancer.

    Unfortunately, there is a worst-case possibility: “Pre-cancerous and cancerous cells of the cervix can definitely cause bleeding and that is obviously very worrisome,” says Dr Harper. What’s also concerning is that, oftentimes, cervical cancer—especially in its early stages—presents very few symptoms. This is why she always recommends seeing a doctor if the bleeding starts happening semi-frequently, even if just to rule it out.

    With cervical cancer, “you can have spotting with intercourse, but you can also have some random spotting, too,” Dr Harper explains. “And it’s bright red, not like menstrual spotting. Whenever people are having bright red bleeding outside of their cycle, they want to be evaluated.”

    So I should really see a doc if I bleed during or after sex?

    Definitely, if it’s a recurring thing. Here’s Dr Williams’ rule of thumb: “If you have a single episode of bleeding after sex, especially if you’re just finishing your period or have started a new hormonal birth control, it may not be anything to be concerned about. However, if it happens more than once, it’s best to just make a quick visit to the gyno and have yourself checked out.”

    After you’ve made your doctor appointment, come prepared with as much information as possible to help ID your condition. First, always pay attention to the colour of the blood. “Darker blood is usually older blood and is not as concerning as if it were very bright red,” Dr Williams says. Also, take note if the blood is accompanied by pelvic pain and discomfort. Or, if your vaginal discharge has a different texture or smell, advises Dr Bausic.

    In terms of treatment, rest assured that many of these conditions are treatable once your doctor is able to diagnose you with the infection or skin condition. One way to rule out infections before you’re even in the doctor’s office is by making sure that pregnancy or any kind of potentially irritating external products aren’t causing the bleeding, Dweck says.

    For many one-time occurrences of bleeding during sex, using lube the next time around can do the trick. But if that’s not helping, it’s best to look further into what could be causing the bleeding. It’s true that sex can be messy—and while talking about bodily fluids and blood can sometimes be uncomfortable, your gyno is trained to help you. That way, you can make sure sex gets back to what it should be: fun!

    This article was first published in More

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    Is ‘Girl Dinner’ Really Healthy? Experts Weigh In On The Viral TikTok Trend

    Content warning: discussion of eating disorders.

    When Olivia Maher, a 28-year-old content creator from Los Angeles, first shared her “girl dinner” video on TikTok, she just wanted to see if other people, like her, had ever proudly cobbled together a meal from leftover bits. “I just thought, ‘I can’t be the only person who does this,’” she told WH.

    In the video, Olivia shows off a dinner comprised of bread, butter, grapes, cheese, gherkins and wine. “I call this ‘girl dinner,’” she narrates. The newly coined phrase now accounts over 700 million views on TikTok. Most of which depict other women’s versions of their own charcuterie board-adjacent snacks-turned-meals. Plus, a popularized sound effect by creator Karma Carr with over 250,000 posts linked to it

    The term “girl dinner” has gone viral, but it’s not exactly a full meal, nor is it just for the girlies. (Ahem, women.)

    A lot of people have questions about what “girl dinner” means and whether it’s healthy. So, Women’s Health spoke to Olivia and several experts about the intentions, health benefits and risks behind the latest trend.

    Meet the experts: Jessica Saunders, PhD, is an assistant professor of psychology at Ramapo College of New Jersey, specializing in body image, eating disorders and gender. Rebecca Ditkoff, RD, is a registered dietitian and founder of Nutrition by RD. Dr. Silvi Rajaogopal, MD, is an assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

    What is ‘girl dinner,’ really?

    Olivia describes the activity as a “once-a-week kind of thing.”

    The meal in her video was comprised of items she had on hand at the time. This is an integral component of the “girl dinner” phenomenon: You don’t have to cook anything. Instead, you eat a random collection of foods in your pantry or fridge until you are full.

    It might be a slice of burrata from mid-week restaurant leftovers, some cantaloupe from breakfast and an artichoke washed down with some Cheerios. It’s glorified snack time.

    At its best, girl dinner is a meal that relies on intuitive eating and redefines the idea that healthy habits need to look pretty.

    “I just get to enjoy exactly what I want and the bits of everything I want to have,” Olivia says. “I’m just left feeling satisfied and giddy at the experience.”

    The TikTok trendsetter also views her “girl dinner” as a more cost-effective quick meal when compared to ordering takeout or heading to the store.

    “I don’t want to cook something. I don’t want to go grocery shopping,” she says. “[I think] like, ‘What do I have around the house that I need to get rid of?’ I’m not throwing out food [as much] this way.”

    Other TikTok users hopped on the trend, showing off their unconventional meals.

    Most videos posted with the “girl dinner” hashtag show women enjoying their own version of Olivia’s “meal”—ranging from nachos to leftover Chipotle with peanut butter and carrots.

    One TikTok user connected the phenomenon to the division of labour in heterosexual couples, connecting the trend’s reliance on “ingredient only” meals to the societal expectations that women in hetero relationships bear the weight of domestic work. Enjoying a “girl dinner” can free them from cooking for their (usually male) partner.

    The phrase has also quickly taken on a meaning beyond Olivia’s original intentions and turned into a punchline on the Internet.

    One popular video describes “girl dinner” as simply going to sleep. Even Popeyes temporarily changed its sides offering to “girl dinner,” per CNN.

    But is it actually healthy?

    Well, it depends on how you approach the trend. Olivia’s original video showed a relatively good-for-you melange of snacks. But unsurprisingly, an unplanned meal of random ingredients might not be the epitome of a healthy diet, some experts caution.

    The positives

    “[Olivia’s video] had positive aspects to it and it was a pretty big spread. There were multiple food groups represented,” says Dr. Jessica Saunders, an assistant professor of psychology at Ramapo College of New Jersey, where she specializes in body image, eating disorders and gender. It seemed like Olivia was using her dinner “to illustrate her freedoms around food and how she perceives food and takes care of herself on her own,” Saunders adds.

    The audience it’s reaching

    However, the trending “girl dinner” has presented in ways that aren’t always healthy. For one, sharing examples of food and joking about inadequate meals can be problematic for some viewers, according to Dr. Sanders.

    “The target audience for much of TikTok are adolescent girls who might not understand what normal, intuitive eating is and might think, ‘This is what I’m supposed to eat for dinner,’” she says. She also noted that some of the “girl dinner” meals she’s seen online are too small.

    “If you’re engaging in that kind of eating as a way to restrict your calories, or eat in a certain way to [show it off on TikTok] but not necessarily listening to your body and what your body needs, then it wouldn’t be helpful, it would be really detrimental,” Dr. Saunders explains. “It puts you at risk for more restrictive eating.” Saunders and other experts for the piece also noted that many trending girl dinners don’t have enough nutritional value, so they’re not the most fulfilling meals, either.

    Similarly, Rebecca Ditkoff, a registered dietitian and founder of Nutrition by RD, warns that the “comparison of plates” aspect of the trend could be dangerous if people start to use it as an example for their diets. She also finds the phrase “girl dinner” itself slightly problematic in its emphasis on gender. “The term of ‘girl dinner’ [seems] very rooted in how girls should be eating less,” she says.

    It’s all in the research

    There is already existing research about how social media puts young girls at potential risk for developing, or exacerbating, eating disorders. In 2022, a study by the Center For Countering Digital Hate found that the app’s algorithm will feed adolescent women harmful eating disorder content within minutes of joining the app.

    A trend that promotes sharing what you eat could also be harmful for those in eating disorder recovery, according to research.

    How do I have a healthy girl dinner?

    Having a plan is essential for a fulfilling diet, according to Dr. Silvi Rajaogopal, an assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine. But obviously, meal prep is at odds with the phenomenon of girl dinner, which is appealing because it removes the hurdles of preparation, cooking and washing dishes. So, ultimately, experts say it isn’t the healthiest choice.

    “If the foods you have at your disposal are whole foods and less processed things, you can put together a decent meal [with the girl dinner method],” she says.

    “However, if you leave the meal up to chance and haven’t put intention behind the ingredients themselves for their nutrition profile, you may end up consuming actually far more calories, with far less nutritional value.”

    Nourishing your body is worth the extra time, says Dr. Rajagopal.“We have busy lives, if we don’t prioritize and plan, we’re left to [eat] whatever is in front of us,” she says. “We should respect ourselves from a health perspective and [eat what] actually fuels our bodies as women.”

    You can’t magically nourish yourself. You have to actively think about how to create a healthy meal.”It doesn’t work that way. It takes work for everyone,” Dr. Rajagopal explains.

    But, if you prefer the girl-dinner lifestyle, Dr. Rajagopal recommends whole ingredients that aren’t processed, so your “quick” meal still gives you adequate nutrients and sustenance.

    A good spread includes a protein, fat and carbohydrate and falls into at least four or five of the main food groups: grains, protein, dairy, fruits and vegetables and fats, says Ditkoff. Make sure your meal takes up the surface of a 10-inch plate.

    Turkey slices



    Crackers or chips

    A “fun food” like gummies or a fun size Snickers bar.

    Save your ‘girl dinner’ for special occasions.

    Olivia is aware of the criticism. She says having a “girl dinner” is more of an individual experience, rather than an example for everyone.

    “[When people post small ‘girl dinner’ meals] we don’t know what they ate earlier in the day, maybe they had a really huge late lunch and they just needed to have a little something in the evening to get them to complete their day,” she says.

    Her intention was never for it to fuel the flame of diet culture, or turn into an “eating disorder repackaged.”

    “I think [girl dinner] should be seen more as a celebration of food and eating and living the way that you want to and the best way possible,” Olivia say

    This article was originally published by Olivia Evans on  More

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    4 Reasons Why You’ve Suddenly Developed Dark Spots Under Your Arms

    Finding dark spots under your arms can be a bit alarming, like finding your first grey hair. They’re a different colour and often feel alarming, just because you’re not used to your skin being a different colour. It’s important to note that skin discolouration is normal and doesn’t detract from your beauty.

    If, however, you’d love for it to revert to its former glory, your armpits could be darker than they should be for at least four different reasons.

    READ MORE: 27 Amazing Autumn/Winter Fragrances Everyone Will Be Wearing This Year

    1. Shaving

    When you shave, you cut your hair off at, or just below, the surface of the skin. If the hair is darker than your skin colour, your skin can appear to have a dark stain, but it’s really just subsurface hair. Instead of shaving, try waxing — it gets rid of hair from a deeper level. Frequent hair removal can also trigger hyperpigmentation (velvety, dark patches) in dark-skinned women, so laser hair removal may be a solution to consider instead. Moisturise your pits often to soothe irritation from shaving and waxing and exfoliate the skin often.

    Sugar Co Sugaring Waxing Kit

    Sugar Co’s all-natural, chemical-free sugaring kit can be used at home.

    Be.Organical Out-Grown After Wax Applicator

    This plant-based oil soothes the skin and can help to reduce bumps and ingrown hairs.

    2. Build-up of dead skin cells

    Dark spots under your arms can be the result of dead skin cells that are trapped in the microscopic “hills and valleys” on your skin. Try exfoliating at least once a week with a product that contains lactic acid. In skincare, lactic acid increases cell turnover and helps eliminate dead skin cells, making it a great exfoliant.

    READ MORE: Skin And Workouts: 6 Gross Things That Happen To Your Skin While Exercising

    3. Antiperspirant and deodorant usage

    In theory, some ingredients in these products (perhaps fragrance) could inflame your skin and cause discolouration. Dark-skinned women are at most risk of this form of hyperpigmentation, which can also be triggered by friction from your arm motion. Look for deodorants that are fragrance-free or contain Pro-Vitamin B5 to reduce inflammation.

    READ MORE: Why Are Body Oils So Good For Your Skin?

    4. Acanthosis nigricans

    This medical condition causes light-brown to black markings on the neck, under the arms or in the groin. It can be related to insulin production or to a glandular disorder and it typically occurs in people who are overweight — if this applies to you, see a doctor and try to limit sugar and simple carbs to control insulin production. It can also be caused by hormones, be triggered by medication or be a condition you inherit. You can lighten your underarms with a retinol cream or one that contains alpha-hydroxy acids or salicylic acid.

    Women’s Health participates in various affiliate marketing programmes, which means we may get commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites. More