If you meditate regularly, work out routinely, and moisturize your face daily, you might think you have self-care on lock. But until you take care of your whole body — and yes, we mean the whole body — you haven't truly mastered the art of taking care of yourself.
Consider this your sign that it's time to check in on one of the most overlooked parts of the body: the vagina. After all, you won’t find total-body wellness without investing in your sexual and reproductive health. You might be surprised with what you discover about yourself once you start tuning in to this integral part of your body — get started with these four self-care strategies.
A healthy pelvic floor — the group of muscles holding pelvic organs such as the vagina, uterus, bowel, and bladder in place — is key to overall sexual health. Just like you do squats to strengthen your glutes, you can also do exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor.
The most common exercise for the pelvic floor is Kegels. First, you'll need to locate your pelvic floor muscles: while urinating, practice stopping the flow midstream. After you're finished in the bathroom, contract and hold those same muscles for a few seconds, then release. Repeat a few times every day to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Just make sure not to squeeze your abdominal muscles or glutes by mistake.
The skin on your vulva isn't like the skin on your face: you don't need a multistep skin-care routine. Still, you shouldn't completely overlook that part of your body, either. Every time you shower, make sure to gently cleanse the skin around your genitals with soap and water. You don't need to worry about cleaning inside the vagina — it takes care of that on its own.
Look for fragrance-free formulas for any soaps or body washes that will be near your vulva, as the skin in that area can be more sensitive. Though you don't need any additional skin-care products, you can use a gentle sugar scrub once a week to help remove dead skin and prevent ingrown hairs, then follow it up with a few drops of gentle oil, like jojoba or grapeseed, to moisturize.
If you're sexually active and don't want to get pregnant, it's also important to choose a birth control method that fits your needs. Talk to your healthcare provider about all of the options that might work for you, based on your medical history, lifestyle, and long-term goals. One potential option is ANNOVERA® (segesterone acetate and ethinyl estradiol vaginal system), a long-lasting birth control that you can insert and remove yourself, no medical procedure required. ANNOVERA® is a vaginal ring that lasts for a full year (13 cycles). It's as easy as inserting it each cycle for 21 days, then removing for 7 days — you simply wash the vaginal ring before and after use, then store it to use again the following month.
Because you put in ANNOVERA® yourself, there is no need for multiple appointments with a healthcare provider. You also don't need to remember to take a daily pill — all you need to do is remove it every 21 days, leave it out for seven, then put it back in. Even better, it's easily reversible if your plans change. Keep reading for additional information about ANNOVERA®, including Important Safety Information and Boxed Warning.
Making your sex life a priority can also do wonders for your self-care. That doesn't require a partner, either: whether you're single or coupled, dedicating time each week to your own pleasure can really help you get in touch with your sexuality.
To start, pencil in at least an hour for sexual pleasure every week — whether that's solo or with a partner is up to you. You can also experiment with sex toys, read erotic stories, or role-play different fantasies to discover what turns you on. The key to sexual wellness — and with your entire vaginal self-care routine — is tuning in to how your body feels.
More From ANNOVERA® (segesterone acetate and ethinyl estradiol vaginal system)
ANNOVERA® is a long-lasting birth control option you can control. It's a ring. It goes in your vagina. Notice we said "vagina" and not "the v-word." Because when we talk like that about reproductive health, we're apologizing for our bodies. So consider this an unapology, from ANNOVERA®.
ANNOVERA® is a first-of-its-kind birth control that's 97% effective. It's comfortable long-lasting birth control that puts you in control. You pick it up from the pharmacy. You put it in yourself and leave it in for 21 days. You pull it out yourself and leave it out for 7 days. Then repeat. And, it lasts a whole year or 13 cycles, which is 13 periods for those counting.
For Important Safety Information, including Boxed Warning, for ANNOVERA®, please see below. Want more info about ANNOVERA®? Click here to learn more.
IMPORTANT RISK INFORMATION
- Do not use ANNOVERA (segesterone acetate and ethinyl estradiol vaginal system) if you smoke cigarettes and are over 35 years old. Smoking increases your risk of serious heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) side effects from hormonal birth control methods, including death from heart attack, blood clots, or stroke. This risk increases with age and the number of cigarettes you smoke.
- ANNOVERA does not protect against HIV infection (AIDS) and other sexually transmitted infections.
- The use of a combination hormonal contraceptive (CHC), like ANNOVERA, is associated with increased risks of several serious side effects, including blood clots, stroke, or heart attack. Do not use ANNOVERA if you have a history of these conditions, have reduced blood flow to your brain (cerebrovascular disease) or reduced blood flow or blockage in any of the arteries that supply blood to your heart (cardiovascular disease), or any condition that makes your blood more likely to clot. The risk of blood clots is highest when you first start using CHCs and when you restart the same or different CHC after not using it for 4 weeks or more.
- ANNOVERA is also not for women with high blood pressure that medicine can’t control or high blood pressure with blood vessel damage; diabetes and over 35 years old, diabetes with high blood pressure or kidney, eye, nerve, or blood vessel damage, diabetes for longer than 20 years; certain kinds of severe migraine headaches; liver disease or liver tumors; breast cancer or any cancer that is sensitive to the female hormones estrogen or progesterone; unexplained vaginal bleeding; are allergic to segesterone acetate, ethinyl estradiol or any other ingredients in ANNOVERA; or take any Hepatitis C drug combination containing ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir, with or without dasabuvir, as this may increase levels of the liver enzyme “alanine aminotransferase” (ALT) in the blood.
- ANNOVERA can cause serious side effects, including: blood clots; toxic shock syndrome (TSS); liver problems, including liver tumors; high blood pressure; gallbladder problems; changes in the sugar and fat (cholesterol and triglycerides) levels in your blood; headache; irregular or unusual vaginal bleeding and spotting between your menstrual periods; depression; possible cancer in your cervix; swelling of your skin especially around your mouth, eyes, and in your throat (angioedema); dark patches of skin on your forehead, cheeks, upper lip, and chin (chloasma). Call your healthcare provider or get emergency medical care right away if any of these serious side effects occur.
- The most common side effects reported in at least 5% of women who received ANNOVERA were: headache/migraine, nausea/vomiting, vaginal yeast infection (candidiasis), lower/upper abdominal pain, painful periods, vaginal discharge, urinary tract infection, breast pain/tenderness, irregular vaginal bleeding, diarrhea, and genital itching.
ANNOVERA is a ring-shaped vaginal system with hormones used by females to prevent pregnancy.
ANNOVERA has not been adequately studied in females with a body mass index >29 kg/m2.
The risk information provided here is not complete. To learn more, review the ANNOVERA Patient Information and talk with your healthcare provider or pharmacist. The FDA-approved product labeling, including Patient Information, can be found here.
You may report side effects to the FDA at www.fda.gov/medwatch or by calling 1-800-FDA-1088. You may also report side effects to TherapeuticsMD at 1-888-228-0150.
ANNOVERA is a registered trademark licensed to TherapeuticsMD, Inc.
Design: Rebecca Hoskins