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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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    Here’s Exactly How Your Vagina Changes In Your 20s, 30s And 40s

     Though you may not be aware, vaginas go through changes along with the rest of your body. Here’s of the vagina changes over the decades from your 20s, 30s and beyond …

    Why do vaginas change?

    Through the years, your vagina changes with the rest of your body, drooping and even drying as you approach menopause. Hormonal changes influence the way your vagina looks and feels – though it’s all totally normal. Over time, you can expect a change in vulva thickness, lubrication and pelvic floor strength. Read on for the specifics of how your vagina changes with age.

    In your 20s

    Normal shrinkage

    Puberty’s over (thank goodness) and your organs have reached their adult size. Except, that is, for your labia majora – the outer “lips” that enclose the rest of your privates. Don’t be shocked to see these looking slimmer. As you age, subcutaneous fat, including that of your genitals, decreases.

    In your 30s

    The big stretch

    The uterus balloons to watermelon proportions during pregnancy – then shrinks back down within six weeks after birth. In South Africa, statistics show that the majority of births in private hospitals are conducted by C-section, sparing their vag opening similar stretching.

    Dark shadows

    The hormone shifts that come with pregnancy or ageing can cause your labia minora, the “inner” lips that encircle the clitoris and vaginal opening, to darken in colour. So you can relax if, on your next self-check, it’s like 50 shades of (mauve-ish) grey down there.

    In your 40s

    Short stuff

    Though a woman’s egg supply dwindles rapidly in her early forties, she still ovulates and (sigh) gets her period. Cycles are a bit shorter, though, and tend to peter out by age 51 – i.e. menopause. Your body puts an end to fertility five to 10 years before that.

    Deep squeeze

    Your repro organs are supported by a hammock of tendons, tissue and muscle. Extra kilos, ageing or years of high-impact workouts can loosen this pelvic floor, straining organs and causing bladder leakage or a “heavy” feeling down below. Your move: Kegel exercises! These simple moves strengthen your pelvic floor, making it healthier – and for stronger orgasms.

    Desert rescue

    Lower oestrogen levels affect the vagina’s acid-alkaline balance, which can spur inflammation – along with thinning and drying of the vaginal walls, which can cause itching, burning and redness. Silver lining: regular sex can prevent this (get on it!).

    This article was first published in More

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    There Is Nothing Normal About Pain During Sex

    First-time sex is supposed to be painful due to the hymen (a thin piece of tissue located at the opening of the vagina) tearing. Most of us grew up hearing this statement. We held on to it as the gospel and waited our turn to feel this ‘natural’ pain. 

    There’s no bigger lie, believes psychosexual therapist Catriona Boffard, who has been in the game for well over 13 years and is particularly passionate about this subject. She believes that young women being taught that first-time sex is painful creates more long-term damage than we let on and it’s something that should never be normalised.

    “One of the biggest issues is that when women expect something to hurt, or if there has been some physical sexual trauma, chemotherapy treatment or a skin condition, they aren’t going to be sufficiently aroused physically and psychologically – and that will automatically lead to pain. There are many reasons why a woman has unwanted pain during sex, but her first time is not one of them. A woman’s first time shouldn’t hurt.”
    Catriona Boffard

    READ MORE: 5 Things You ALWAYS Need To Do After Anal Sex

    Why you could be experiencing sexual pain

    There are various health and psychological reasons that cause pain during sex – and these should be treated with the utmost urgency. “One of the most common reasons why women experience pain during sex is that they’re not sufficiently aroused. Also, because society tells us that sex first-time sex is going to hurt, that also switches off the probability of being physically and mentally aroused. Her vaginal muscles tense up leading to sexual pain,” explains Boffard. 

    Another reason could be due to sexual pain disorders. “It’s usually a psychosomatic issue that a woman experiences where there is a fear-pain cycle that perpetuates in the brain. It could be that she’s experienced psychological and physical trauma before when inserting a tampon or a finger, being examined by a gynaecologist or when a penis penetrates,” shares Boffard. 

    READ MORE: Vanilla Sex: Not As Boring As You Think

    The third reason is due to dermatological conditions such as lichen sclerosis which affects the tissue in the vulva area or recurring vaginal infections, adds Boffard. Then there’s also the effects of ageing, menopause or chemotherapy which causes shrinking and atrophy (skin condition demonstrated by thin shiny-appearing skin, small readily visible blood vessels, bruises, stretch marks, increased hair, redness, and pigmentation changes) in the vaginal tissue, particularly in the labia. 

    Possible treatments

    Should you decide to consult a psychosexual therapist for your pain during sex, they are likely to first refer you to a sexual health doctor for a full examination and assessment to rule out the possibility of the pain being caused by clinical reasons. “The treatment usually depends on what it is that she’s experiencing. There is no one-size-fits-all model. Every woman needs to be treated differently depending on what her concerns are,” says Boffard. 

    READ MORE: 10 Quiet Vibrators That Will Let You Play In Peace

    One of the most common causes of unwanted sexual pain in women, from a psychological perspective, is negative messaging around sex. “A woman living with vaginismus (the tightening of the muscles on the vagina) may need sessions with a physiotherapist to manage the movement of their pelvis and another may need some psychological therapy sessions. Ideally, a woman experiencing unwanted sexual pain needs a team made up of a sexual health doctor, a sexologist like myself and a physiotherapist,” she says. More

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    7 Common Things That Make Your Vagina Smell Strange

    Why does your vagina smell and what can you do about it? Dr Christine Kriel, a qualified GP with special interests in women’s health and holistic healing, gives us all the intimate details…

    So, what should your vagina smell like?

    The way your vagina smells is highly individualised and influenced by a couple of different factors. If there is a noticeable odour – associated with symptoms like discharge, itch or burn – there’s a problem and you need to pop in on your gynae. But without these symptoms, the smell is probably perfectly normal.

    But why?

    The reason your vagina has a characteristic smell is because it secretes fluids and normal bacteria to keep your vaginal pH slightly acidic at 4.5 – this plays a role in helping your vagina stay infection-free. Here, the common things that give your vagina its unique scent…

    READ MORE: Vaginal Probiotics Are Having A Moment – But How Do They Work?

    Oestrogen lowers your vaginal pH, protecting you from infections. During the second half of your cycle up until before your period, when oestrogen is low, you might be more susceptible to infections and odour. When your cycle is irregular, you’re also more susceptible to increased pH and infections.

    2. Your diet

    Sugary foods create the perfect environment for yeast infections, causing a change in vaginal odour. (Though yeast infections themselves don’t really have a characteristic smell.) Strong-smelling foods like coffee or onions affect bodily fluids, including vaginal discharge and smell. Incredibly, there is some evidence showing that sweet-smelling foods like watermelon, celery, pineapple and apple might help with vaginal odour. Lastly, eating foods rich in probiotics – like sauerkraut, kefir or kombucha – supports your vaginal microbiome, preventing infections.

    READ MORE: All About The New Non-Surgical Vaginal Rejuvenation Therapy

    FYI: Your vaginal microbiome is the environment of normal organisms found in your vagina. Their role? To protect you from an overgrowth of unwanted yeast and bacterial infections. The vaginal microbiome and your gut microbiome are connected.

    To maintain a healthy vaginal microbiome, avoid oral antibiotics as far as possible and supplement with probiotic strains lactobacillus rhamnosus (GR-1) and lactobacillus reuteri (RC-14). Avoid: feminine hygiene products used internally, vaginal douching and scented soaps – they disturb your vaginal microbiome, putting you at risk of infection. Our natural response is to think when something smells, we need to wash it, but these efforts have the opposite effect.

    3. Your pH

    Your vaginal pH should be between 3.5 and 4.5 – slightly acidic. At this pH level, your vaginal microbiome should be normal. Anything above that puts you at risk of infections and odour. So, what increases your pH? Menstrual blood and tampons, sperm, scented soaps, hot baths, vaginal douching and hormonal contraception.

    READ MORE: Pop Quiz: Do You Actually Know What’s Going On With Your Vagina?

    4. Leakage of urine/menopause

    After normal childbirth and with increased age, bladder control becomes more difficult. A cough or sneeze can cause leakage, and walking around with soiled underwear can result in unwanted odour down south. If you’re prone to this, try Kegel/pelvic floor exercises, wear a panty liner, or carry extra undies in your bag for emergencies.

    5. Personal hygiene and sweat

    This is a common cause of a musky or fried onion-like smell – but staying hydrated helps. If you’re prone to sweating, you can use feminine wipes (not inside the vagina – only on the outside folds) and change your underwear during the day. Baby powder can also help, but once again: for external use only. Lastly, hairy areas are more prone to sweat, so treat yourself to a Hollywood or laser hair removal.

    READ MORE: Vaginal Infections 101 — What You Need To Know About That Itch

    6. Sexual intercourse

    Semen has a strong ammonia smell and it can also increase your pH, putting you at risk of vaginal infections. It’s important to urinate after sex and wash properly with water after the act.

    7. Your choice of underwear

    First, make sure your underwear is clean. Washing your undies in the machine is often not enough – you need to wash them properly by hand. Tumble drying for 30 minutes also helps to get rid of bacteria. Secondly, throw the old ones out. If your undies are stained or worn with holes, get rid of them. Lastly, fabric is important. Avoid synthetics like nylon and spandex – they’re non-breathable. Rather choose cotton. More

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    How Long Does A UTI Last And Can It Go Away On Its Own?

    Chances are you’ve experienced a stinging sensation while peeing before. Then, five minutes after closing the bathroom door, you felt like you have to go again. At this point, you probably think to yourself, Great, another UTI.

    How long does a UTI last again?

    That depends on how serious your infection is. But some basics first: A urinary tract infection (UTI) is caused by bacteria entering the urethra. That’s the tube that lets urine leave the body and bladder. But it can also spread to the upper urinary tract and kidneys, says Dr James Elist, a urologist.

    A UTI can be complicated or uncomplicated based on how far up it has travelled. “An uncomplicated UTI occurs in the lower urinary tract, typically the bladder and urethra,” explains Dr Elist. “It’s considered uncomplicated because it can be effectively treated with antibiotics and does not usually lead to serious complications.” A complicated UTI, on the other hand, extends beyond the bladder and is typically more severe and difficult to treat.

    In both cases, typical symptoms include the urgency to pee and pain during urination, but blood in urine, fever, bladder inflammation, urinary incontinence, abdominal or back discomfort, strong-smelling urine, and genital irritation can also occur.

    When it comes to a UTI, though, you don’t want to mess around. Here’s everything you need to know about this infection, according to urologists, including how long it lasts with and without treatment, and how to speed up recovery ASAP.

    Meet the experts: James Elist is a urologist and the founder of the Penuma implant. Yanina Barbalat is a urologist at Beth Israel Lahey Health.

    How long does a UTI last untreated?

    Believe it or not, about 30 to 40 per cent of women can clear a UTI without taking antibiotics. An uncomplicated UTI can last seven to 10 days, says Dr Yanina Barbalat, a urologist at Beth Israel Lahey Health, but sometimes it takes up to six weeks.

    However, a complicated UTI may last for weeks or even months if left untreated, because the bacteria will continue to multiply, allowing the infection to spread to the kidneys, notes Dr. Elist.

    That said, even if you think you have an uncomplicated UTI, you should always check in with your doc, says Dr Elist. They’ll order a urinalysis to confirm that you have an infection.

    How long does a UTI last with antibiotics?

    If you have symptoms of a UTI and a urine analysis confirms the diagnosis, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics whether you have an uncomplicated or complicated UTI, says Dr Elist. For uncomplicated UTIs, antibiotics will typically make you feel better within a few days. Complicated cases often require a longer or even a second course of medication. Recovery may take one to two weeks or even a month, he adds.

    If your urine test comes back positive but you don’t have any symptoms, you won’t need antibiotics. “I often tell people it’s kind of like the bacteria on your skin, which doesn’t mean you always need to be on antibiotics. Because some people have bacteria that colonize and it just sort of coexists with the person,” adds Dr Barbalat. “It doesn’t need to be treated unless it’s actually causing you issues.”

    And while you’ll likely notice an improvement within two days of taking antibiotics, make sure to continue taking it and finish all the pills you’re prescribed, says Dr Barbalat. Stopping treatment early may leave some bacteria in the bladder, which can potentially lead to a more serious infection.

    If symptoms get worse or continue for more than a week, see a doctor immediately because it could be a sign of a more severe infection in the kidney or bladder, says Dr Elist.

    How do I know if my UTI has gone away?

    You’ll know a UTI has gone away when you no longer have symptoms, says Dr Barbalat. If you’ve taken an antibiotic and your symptoms are gone, then that’s it, according to the American Urological Association.

    If your urine test comes back positive but you don’t have any symptoms, you won’t need antibiotics.And while most symptoms will go away in a week, you may still feel a burning sensation when you pee or an urgency to use the bathroom for two to three weeks after, says Dr Barbalat. “That just means the bladder is still inflamed and irritated, so you don’t actually need antibiotics, you just need a little bit of TLC,” she explains. “Drink lots of fluids, stay away from spicy foods, alcohol, coffee, and other things that can irritate the bladder. Just give your body a little bit of time to recover.”

    If your remaining symptoms continue to linger after a month post-antibiotic, check in with your primary care physician ASAP.

    How can I get rid of a UTI faster?

    The best way to speed up recovery (besides taking antibiotics) is to stay hydrated and drink lots of fluids, says Dr Barbalat. You should also keep the genitals and surrounding area clean and dry, and wash your hands often.

    To ease any pain or discomfort, Dr Elist suggests applying a heating pad to your abdomen and/or back, wearing loose clothing, and taking an OTC medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

    Now you may be thinking, What about cranberry juice? “Cranberry juice will actually irritate the bladder because it’s sour, so a lot of people will drink it when they have an infection and it can actually make symptoms worse,” says Dr Barbalat. So, to minimize further inflammation, stay away from cranberry juice until you’re all better.

    That said, cranberry supplements are a good way to prevent UTIs, per Dr Barbalat. “Cranberries have active compounds called PACs [proanthocyanidins], which do not allow bacteria to bind to the bladder, so you instead pee the bacteria out,” she explains.

    Nativa Complex Bladder Fizzy

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    My Beauty Luv Vajayjay

    Made with cranberry extract and Quatreflora®, this supp wards off UTI infections. It can be taken every day, even with antibiotic treatment.

    However, if you’re prone to UTIs (you have more than two within six months, or three within a year), you must have the right cranberry supplement, stresses Dr Barbalat. “Most over-the-counter pills do not have enough PACs for them to be effective enough. Studies show that you need at least 36 milligrams of soluble PACs.”

    In terms of things you should avoid when you have a UTI, Dr. Barbalat suggests steering clear of foods that are irritating to the bladder. This includes sour or acidic fruits like lemons, oranges, kiwi, or pineapple, alcohol, soda, and artificial sweetener. It’s also best to avoid anti-bacterial or fragranced soap because this can kill the good bacteria in your vagina, dry out the surrounding area, and cause inflammation of the tissue, she adds.

    And it’s best to avoid sex while you’re still symptomatic, says Dr Barbalat. “It’s technically okay to have sex with a UTI, but the symptoms will get worse if you’re not 100 per cent better.” Additionally, if you engage in sexual activity following a positive UTI result, you could reintroduce the bacteria into the bladder, causing extended symptoms or even a recurrent infection, says Dr Elist.

    This article was originally published on Women’s Health US More

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    The Weird Way Your Menstrual Cycle Affects Your Guy’s Hormones

    We all know how that moodiness around our periods can drive our partners just a bit insane. But your menstrual cycle actually has a biological effect on your partner, too. Yup, per a study, your cycle could boost his testosterone levels. Ah, hormones…

    The study

    Animal studies found that olfactory cues of ovulation (when a biological female releases an egg, awaiting fertilisation by sperm) affected male testosterone levels. Studies conducted by researchers from Florida State University found that the same thing happens to male humans.

    In the studies, women wore t-shirts during different phases of their menstrual cycles. The men in the studies smelled one of the t-shirts worn by a female or unworn t-shirts. Saliva samples were collected before and after smelling the t-shirts s and measured for testosterone levels.

    Men who smelled the t-shirts of ovulating women had higher levels of testosterone than men who smelled a t-shirt worn when the women were not ovulating or a control t-shirt. The scent of t-shirts worn when the women were ovulating was rated as the most pleasing. These olfactory findings brighten the signal that when you’re ovulating, it’s prime time for fun in the sheets.

    But the needle can swing both ways. In another study, researchers measured levels of hormones in heterosexual partners throughout the woman’s menstrual cycle. What they found was surprising: during ovulation, when levels of estradiol are elevated, both partners felt more negatively toward each other than at other times of the cycle. Clearly, your menstrual cycle plays a bigger part in the relationship than you’d think.

    To move closer together, try talking about your feelings to clear the air and make way for a deeper connection and yes, more sex.

    When his testosterone starts to wane…

    With age, men’s testosterone levels do naturally start to decrease. Instead of shoving your nightie under his nose once a month, you could also steer him in the direction of these healthy foods, proven to up his levels: eggs, peanuts, yoghurt, oysters, garlic, oats, avocado, salmon (or other oily fish), fresh fruit and veg, pine nuts, brown rice and liver.

    Add some spice with a sex toy

    We-Vibe Unite Couples Vibrator

    Get that extra deep clitoral stimulation during sex with this remote-controlled toy that you can both enjoy. More

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    Vaginal Probiotics Are Having A Moment – But How Do They Work?

    Since your algorithm knows you’re a woman, you’ve likely seen vaginal probiotics on your feeds: gummies, powders and pills that tout an end to thrush and infection. While we know vaginas are self-cleansing machines, this is one trend that could help, per experts.

    First, some background…

    “A healthy vagina has “good” bacteria in it,” says gynaecologist and obstetrician Dr Daniela Krick. “This is called the vaginal flora or microbiome and is made up of many different types of bacteria, the predominant being lactobacilli.” They work to fend against microbes from outside that cause infection and microbes that reside in the vagina but multiply abnormally quickly, causing thrush or vaginosis, Dr Krick explains.

    That being said, a probiotic can help – if you have a vaginal flora imbalance. It’s made of naturally-occurring lactobacilli, the healthy bacteria in your bod. This can help restore vaginal pH and improve the body’s natural defence against infection. “Nowadays, there is increasing evidence that probiotics are effective in assisting the treatment of bacterial vaginosis,” says Dr Krick.

    Do you need vaginal probiotics?

    Maybe, say the experts, if you’re prone to bacterial vaginosis or thrush. “The thinking is that introducing more of the helpful lactobacilli might protect against that overgrowth of harmful organisms. Consequently, this can reduce recurrent infections,” says Dr Krick. “There is some evidence that women suffering from GSM (genitourinary symptoms of menopause) may benefit from vaginal probiotics in combination with traditional local oestrogen therapy.”

    Added to that, scant studies suggest that vaginal probiotics could clear out HPV infections. HPV is associated with an increased risk of developing cervical cancer.

    Ingredients to look out for

    Studies that show the positive effects of using vaginal probiotics have specific strains that are successful. So, look out for Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14, says Dr Krick. Also, there are various applications, and they all work to similar effect.

    Even so, chat with your doctor if you’re thinking of using a vaginal probiotic. “It is important to remember that all probiotics are live microorganisms which can have side effects such as allergic reactions and gastrointestinal upset,” says Dr Krick.

    Also, look for probiotic-based products that have these strains. Other products might not have the necessary ingredients that alleviate symptoms of thrush and bacterial vaginosis.

    Make sure you’re safe

    It’s important to not engage in other practices that could create an environment for infection. That includes:

    Long, soapy baths (it’s water full of bacteria)


    Using soaps to wash your lady parts. Only use water or a low-pH soap.

    And, practise safe sex

    Try these vaginal probiotics

    These probiotics contain the ingredients that have been studied and shown to produce results.

    Reuterina Femme

    These contain the right ingredients you need to flush out irritation and infection, in a capsule.

    Femina Cranberry Probiotic Capsules

    Lactose-free and vegan-friendly, this capsule delivers cranberry extract and probiotics.

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    The Best Sex Toys For Those With Endometriosis

    Do you have endometriosis? If you do, you’re not alone. According to WHO, 1 in 10 women at the reproductive age are affected by the condition globally.

    Those with endo know how much it can interfere with quality of life, including being intimate with your partner. Because the disorder most commonly involves a woman’s ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining the pelvis, having sex and/or your period can feel similar to being stabbed over and over again, right in the uterus. Horrendous.

    But having endo doesn’t mean you have to live an orgasm-less life. To help you get your rocks off, sex educator Javay Frye-Nekrasova shares her tips for engaging in partnered and solo sex, plus the best sex toys for those with endometriosis.

    Communication Is Key

    Emotional concerns may include disappointment in not being able to engage in sex with a partner, as one would imagine, as well as frustration with your body. Talk with your partner, share your thoughts, and explore the different avenues of pleasure with each other.

    ‘Warm Up’ Before Engaging In Penetrative Play

    It can take up to 20 minutes for the vulva to be fully aroused. This is important because the vagina elongates when the vulva is aroused, and this can make a big difference in less painful penetrative play.

    Go Solo

    Masturbation can be beneficial for alleviating pain during intercourse as the release of endorphins and happy hormones can help with discomfort. A warm bath with some Epsom salt might also help with pain so that you can enjoy pleasure during masturbation. You can opt for a vibrator like the Mon Ami Bullet, as it is waterproof and safe to join you in the tub.

    Incorporate Sex Toys

    Womanizer | Premium 2 Clitoral Stimulator

    Clitoral stimulation is a great option if penetrative play is painful. The Womanizer Premium 2 is a great clitoral stimulator that uses Pleasure Air technology to simulate oral sex.

    We-Vibe | Tango X Clitoral Stimulator

    If you are more of a vibration lover then the We-Vibe Tango is a great option that packs power in a little package.

    We-Vibe | Match

    For those who want to try out some penetrative play for masturbation, a shorter penetrative toy like the We-Vibe Match could be a good place to start. It is a dual stimulator that stimulates the clitoris and g-spot at the same time. It also has a remote control as well as an app to allow you to control the stimulation.

    The post The Best Sex Toys For Those With Endometriosis appeared first on Women’s Health.

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