Vaginas need and enjoy attention; and knowing how to keep your vagina happy is very important -- because if your vagina isn't happy, nobody's happy! If you're a midlife woman, you might have noticed that your vagina and her needs are changing. Vaginas experience climate change! They actually have an environment that shifts during our life cycle, and what we expect of them changes too.
Most of us know that vaginas are self-cleaning ovens, a source of pleasure and a sometimes portal for life. But did you know that in the United States alone, 6,000 women go into menopause every day?
Did you know that some of these women may experience uncomfortable dryness, pain and a lowering of libido? Well, phooey on that (phooey is a scientific term for 'get outta here').
Yes, you can go the route of estrogen therapy and other pharmaceutical remedies. But for some women who have or have survived estrogen-receptor positive cancer, or are concerned that they may be at high risk for cancer, they can't use hormone therapy. And even if you do use these therapies, I think that my routine for vaginal maintenance could either be a standalone or done in conjunction with western medicine. So, I have compiled for you in one place my tips for vaginal maintenance because let's face it, how are you suppose to be all zen when your vagina and you are not getting along?
Pamela's Tips For a Happy Vagina:
1. You may know that condoms are the number one go-to for safer sex. It's the best way to protect against STDs and unwanted pregnancy. But did you know that condoms can also help in keeping your vagina's pH level healthy so that good bacteria, like lactobacilli, can flourish "down there"? Yes, I know. Thinking about good bacteria and bad bacteria in your vagina doesn't feel super sexy. But neither are yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis. We want to keep the good bacteria and condoms can help!
2. Give your vulva a "facial". Keep a bottle or jar of coconut oil (organic) in the bathroom. After you pee and wipe, put a little oil on your fingers and massage your inner labia and the area around the opening of your vagina. This will keep the skin of your inner labia and the opening to your vagina soft and subtle. Yes, do this every time you use the bathroom at home.
3. Buy a jade egg or Kegel Beads. Not everyone has a partner, and even for those of us that do, we may not be having intercourse enough for our vaginal health. By wearing a jade egg or playing with Kegel Beads, we are taking the health of our vaginas into our own hands. The use of the egg or beads can also help you maintain your ability to create lubrication. The beads jump around in your vagina and literally work out the walls. Many vagina owners report that they don't even notice that they are wearing the egg or beads. Just be careful when you go to the bathroom -- they could fall out! A great first step with the beads is sleeping with them inside you. You can wear the beads or egg all day. Experiment with them.
4. Use lubricants! Lube is really your friend. Don't let your partner use spit to create a wetter environment in your vagina (yes, some partners really try to get away with that). Sex doesn't have to be painful, and using lots of lubricant can make your vagina really happy. Use lubricant when you place your Kegel Beads inside of you, or when you use the jade egg. Use lubricant when you play with sex toys. Use lube! I like Sliquid Silk Lube and Hathor Aphrodisa Lubricant.
5. Take off your panties! That's right. Go commando and let your vagina breathe! Have you ever had the audacity to take a walk outside in a skirt with no underwear on? It can feel fantastic! That's because you vagina needs to "air out". Your belly may crave spandex, but you vagina wants cotton or nothing. Now, this does not mean you have to go with "Granny Underwear". Just look for underwear with a thin strip of cotton fabric in the crotch. And when you are home; take off your panties!
6. Check out Sex Butter. Sex butter is also a natural lubricant, but it is also a stimulant. Many women report that using Sex Butter has also supported them in easing vaginal pain. I keep it in my tool box.
7. Use insertables. That's right, I am talking sex toys that you can put in your vagina. Once again, this is about pleasure but it's also about keeping our over-50 vaginas happy! My favorite toys at the moment are made by njoy. These toys have body and weight to them. They can give a woman something to hold onto, and I like that. I highly recommend the "Pure Wand", "The Fun Wand" and the njoy "Eleven". These toys are made out of pure medical grade stainless steel. They feel good, can give you lots of pleasure, and they are really fabulous for vaginal maintenance. Invest in one or try them all. All three of these beauties are in my tool chest.
8. Don't use scented soaps! Your vagina is a sensitive flower. Scented soaps will dry out and irritate her lips (inner and outer labia as well as the entrance to your vagina). Your vagina is a nature girl. She likes unscented products, and warm clean water. Your vagina is self-cleaning, please stay way from intravaginal hygiene products. They can put you at risk of infections, pelvic inflammatory disease and STDs.
9. Offer your vagina shame-free self pleasuring! Dr. Christiane Northrup, in her amazing new book "Goddesses Never Age", puts it this way: "Self pleasuring empowers and bestows power on women who practice it because once you know how to trigger your own orgasm, you don't need a partner to do it for you." Take the time to get to know your erotic anatomy. When a woman is connected to her own vagina she is connected to an extraordinary array of creative life force energy. When a woman can become lovers with her own vagina she can love the world.
10. If you are feeling a disconnect with your own vagina -- a sense of numbness or a lack of desire -- perhaps it's time to try working with a professional. We see nutritionists and exercise experts; why wouldn't we consult a sexuality coach? Sometimes, it's time to take our vaginas into the shop for a tuneup! It's just healthy maintenance.
11. Vagina Hugs: Your vagina needs love and attention. This does not always have to look like rocket ship orgasms. Vaginas like to be touched and held. Sometimes, simply holding and rocking is enough. Or gentle petting either with dry hands or with lubricant. Try that when you wake up in the morning or when you are falling asleep at night.
Remember, no one else can really love and maintain your vagina for you. And when your vagina is happy, the world is a brighter place!
HuffPost Parents offers a daily dose of personal stories, helpful advice and comedic takes on what it’s like to raise kids today. Learn more