As a woman of a certain age, I am no stranger to anti-aging products. There’s the eye cream, the skin plumper, the night cream that I apply each evening only to wake up with the same lines on my forehead. Well, after attending BlogHer16, I have decided I am adding a new weekly regimen to this ritual; it’s my vagina regimen.
I’ve been talking to women about their vaginas for the past three years, but when Dr. Sheryl Ross, an OB/GYN, and Keech Combe Shetty, the CEO of Combe, makers of Vagisil, hosted the aptly named Vagtails (cocktails without the... well, you get it), I realized there was still tons to learn.
Just like the skin on your face, the skin inside your vagina can dry out as you age.
As Ross puts it, "You really can get dryness and sort of get chapped lips 'down there.'"
And although those chapped lips aren't visible to the world, I would argue it’s more important to treat it than the skin on your face. Why, you ask? Frankly speaking, dry vaginas are not comfortable. Especially during sex (can you say ouch?).
"Whenever you feel dryness in the skin on your face or your body, chances are you're going to have dry intimate skin as well," said Shetty. And the triggers for that dryness, she said, are the same as for your overall skin, including stress, antihistamines, drinking, hormone changes and birth control.
Before you hyperventilate over all the ways you've neglected your vagina (ahem, like that extra martini last night), you've still got options. You can always use an intimate moisturizer or personal lubricant to combat dryness, or you can use an internal product that you insert once or twice a week to keep your moisture level up.
Speaking of lubricant (see what I did there?), your vagina's delicate skin can be easily injured. Having sex without lubricant can leave you a bit sore because you may be getting small lacerations in the area around the vaginal opening. The takeaway? Please always use lubricant during sex — not only will it help protect you from these lacerations, but it will also make sex more pleasurable for you and your partner. And, ahem, ahem, look for one you can use before you go out on date night — there's no messy digging-through-the-nightstand moment before you do the do. Trust me, you'll thank me for that one later.
"This is actually like a ChapStick for your vagina," said Shetty.
Now for the dirty truth about keeping it clean down there: Don't exactly believe everything you hear. One of the most misunderstood phrases, said Ross, is that your vagina cleans itself.
"If you've ever heard the term 'the vagina is self-cleaning,' that's confusing. Really, it's not that self-cleaning," said Ross. She suggests using a gentle cleanser.
"It's a good reminder that you need to be in touch with your vagina. You need to listen to it. You need to hear what it's saying," said Ross.
I, for one, will be listening to mine a bit more closely. And so should you.
Naama Bloom is SheKnows' senior vice president of integrated marketing. She is the founder and CEO of HelloFlo.com, a modern-day women's health company. She is a 15-plus year marketing leader with a significant track record of building high-performing teams, launching and managing brands, customer acquisition, PR and direct marketing. In 2013, she launched HelloFlo with the goal of empowering women and girls to celebrate all stages of their life, from puberty to menopause.
This post was sponsored by Vagisil.