VAGINA REHAB - Post Birth Pelvic Floor Tips to Have You Back in Action Before You Can Say “Oops, I’ve Pissed in my Undies Again!”


Hi lovelies!

I’ve been asked by many of you now to shed some light on how best to help your vaginas and pelvic floors after giving birth, and as a Yoni Mapping Therapist I see a lot of clients who come to me struggling with exactly this.

So here’s the D-low, comin’ atchya from the Vagina Chronicles Blog!


So why is it important to have a healthy, happy pelvic floor?

The web of muscles, ligaments, and tissues that make up your amazing pelvic floor are important for the obvious reason that they hold up your pelvic organs so that things like your bladder or uterus don’t just straight up drop out of you!

However, on top of this, a toned and strong pelvic floor prevents you from suffering from urinary incontinence, and helps you experience more pleasurable and satisfying sex and orgasms.

So y’know, preeeeeeeetty big bonus of keeping your pelvic floor in shape (or getting it back in shape post-birth).


When should I start my Vagina Rehab?

You can start implementing these practices as soon as you feel ready after giving birth.

For instance, the pelvic floor exercises can be done a few days post-birth and should be started as soon as you feel comfortable doing them.

Doing these exercises asap, even if you can’t yet feel anything happening, will help:

  • Prevent and treat stress incontinence.

  • Improve the circulation of blood to your perineum, which will help to reduce any swelling and bruising you may have.

  • Rebuild strength in your pelvic floor.


How do I go about this though?!

So there are a few things you can do to begin your Vagina Rehab, and the biggest one is through pelvic floor exercises that involve strengthening and toning through deliberate contractions inside the vagina.

Pelvic Floor Exercises:

Start lying on your back, or on your side. Or you may find it easier to do your exercises in a relaxing bath to begin with.

Breathe in, and as you breathe out, gently squeeze your pelvic floor muscles. Try not to pull in your tummy muscles. Just focus on pulling your pelvic floor muscles up and in, as if you’re trying not to wee or “let one rip”.

Hold the squeeze for as long as you can while you continue to breathe in and out as normal. This may only be a second or two at first, and ideally you’ll build up to 5 - 10 second holds. But just do what you can!

If you’re tightening your upper tummy muscles (above your belly button) or your butt, you’re trying too hard!

We don’t want to engage any other muscles in your legs, bum, or abdomen as this will stop the Kegel exercises from working and in fact increase intra-abdominal pressure and aggravate the problem.

 To make sure you’re doing them correctly, put two fingers inside your vagina, spread them slightly apart, and squeeze around the fingers. Those are the only muscles that should be contracted. Place your other hand on your belly as a reminder to keep it soft and relaxed.

If you lose control of your breathing mid-squeeze, stop, and start again. Once you can do the holds for 10 seconds, try to do five quick squeezes in a row. Quick squeezes help you to tighten the muscles when you cough, sneeze, laugh or lift something.

You should feel your muscles letting go at the end of each squeeze. If you don’t, you may have allowed your muscles to relax before reaching the end of your count. If this is the case, reduce the count until you can feel your muscles letting go, and build up from there.

Slowly build up to 10 squeezes for 10 seconds, followed by 10 quick squeezes, three times a day.

You may not feel much, or even anything, when doing your exercises in the first few days. But your efforts will pay off over time. It can take between six weeks and 12 weeks for your muscles to strengthen noticeably, so keep going.

Got any other tips and tricks?

Jade egg practices:

The ancient jade egg practices can be very helpful for developing dexterity, strength, flexibility, and tone inside the vagina. It involves inserting a small egg shaped crystal (usually nephrite jade) and using this weight to do pelvic floor exercises with. The vagina, like the sole of the feet, the ear, and the palm of the hand, has reflexology points that correspond to major organs. The use of the jade egg also stimulates these areas and has additional health benefits. You can learn more about these practices and techniques. From Saida Desilets, Ph.D., author of ‘Emergence of the Sensual Woman’ - a book that gives explicit instructions on how to use a jade egg.

And you can purchase beautiful ones here: https://www.yonipleasurepalace.com/?ref=freyagraf

Bowel Business:

Try to stay hydrated and eat lots of fibre to avoid constipation. Constipation puts a lot of strain on the pelvic floor muscles, and stitches if you’ve got them. It’s not great news for prolapse either.

Coughing, laughing and sneezing:

When we cough, sneeze, laugh, or lift heavy things the pelvic floor cops it, and the muscles often get forced downwards from the internal pressure of those actions. It’s important to be mindful of the effect of this on the pelvic floor and squeeze the muscles up and in before/while we cough, sneeze, laugh, etc. This protects the pelvic floor and helps prevent leakage!

It’s also a good habit to get into so that it happens automatically and keeps your pelvic floor strong and ready for action.

Connecting more deeply with your vagina:

An incredible resource for this plight - if you’re unable to come and have a session with me in person! - is to go on this 3 month online journey to discover how to cultivate more pleasure, better sex, and a stronger awareness and sensitivity to your whole pelvic space. The online course is called Yoni Club, and I can highly recommend it if you want to up-level your relationship to, and mastery of your vagina!

What if my pelvic floor muscles are TOO tight or over-active though?

An overactive pelvic floor can happen when you're constantly contracting your pelvic floor muscles without realising it. This can be caused by tension due to pain or damage to your tissues. Having tears, stitches, an episiotomy, or pelvic girdle pain, can all lead to your pelvic floor muscles becoming overly tight. As can stress and anxiety - it’s a bit like clenching your jaw.

It creates more pain, and weakens the muscles.

In this case, you may want to opt for a different way of exercising the pelvic floor muscles that focuses on correcting posture and alignment to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles without the risk of creating or worsening tension in the pelvic bowl.

Assisted Squats:

1. Hold on to both sides of a doorknob or pole and extend your arms--this is how far away from the door you should be for the squat. Place a rolled-up towel under your heels to keep the shins in a vertical position.

2. Move your knees back until they're aligned with your ankles to untuck your pelvis.

3. Squat down as far as you can go until your knees feel like they need to move; keep holding on to the doorknob for assistance.

4. Squeeze your glutes as you slowly lower back up to the starting position.

Aim for 5 to 10 squats to start and progress as you get stronger. You want to target your backside, not your quads; this is why untucking the pelvis and keeping the shins in a vertical position is emphasized—it transfers the bulk of the work to your glutes. As you get stronger, let go of the doorknob

 

And to learn to relax the muscles of your pelvic floor, relaxation techniques are helpful, such as deep abdominal breathing:

1.. Lie down in a comfortable position, free from noise and distractions. Close your eyes.

2. Start by slowly inhaling through your nose. Imagine your breath travelling down, into your belly and your belly slowly starting to rise.

3. Place your hands on your belly so you can feel this rise.  Exhale and feel your belly fall. Continue this slow inhale and exhale- feeling the belly rise and fall.  As you find it gets easier, try to inhale for 3 seconds and exhale for 3 seconds. Do this for at least 2 minutes.

4. Now once you’ve relaxed…think about gently contracting your pelvic floor muscles on the exhale. On the inhale, completely relax the pelvic floor muscles. For as much as you pull your pelvic floor up, you need to let it go all the way back down.

Continue this for 1-2 minutes with the coordination of your breath, nice and slow.

Practice at least once/day. Other things like mindfulness, yoga, meditation and relaxation techniques can be helpful for an overactive pelvic floor, and of course, internal massage to help release tension and train the muscles, such as the kind of bodywork I do as a Yoni Mapping Therapist! This internal massage can also be done yourself with a Therawand or similar.

So there you have it, some tried and true techniques and approaches to healing your vagina post-birth! The key is consistency and patience here though, my dears. I wish you all the best, and do get in touch if you need any further support or info!

Big love.

Freya xxx


Sex and Shame Pollution - Why I now massage vaginas!

A bit about my story and the journey that’s brought me to where I am today…


As an awkward teenager I distinctly remember getting my first period - my menarche - and getting by for a while using the sample sanitary pads we’d received in a little sex-ed kit at school until they ran out. Then I resorted to begging supplies from friends at school.

And all this to avoid telling my mother what had happened because for some reason I was too embarrassed. On one level I felt a twinge of excitement at joining the ranks of bleeding women and being part of some sort of universal club where we all shared this common experience. On another level I resented the inconvenience and dreaded having to tell an adult.

Eventually I had no choice but to go to Mum with the news. I recall being acutely uncomfortable with bringing up the conversation; eager to get it over with, secure the necessary items, and carry on as though nothing had happened.

This theme of deep shame and discomfort surrounding my body and sexuality carried on over the years and manifested in some rather unusual behaviour!

When my pubescent breasts started budding I altered my posture when I was at home, hunching my shoulders so my top would hang in a way that hid my chest. But when I was at school, among my peers (and boys whom I had crushes on!) I would wear overly-padded bras that I didn’t need and short dresses in an attempt to appear ‘sexy’ and womanly. All the while feeling cripplingly self conscious about the fact that those bra cups I strapped onto my chest were virtually hollow.

When others my age would talk about sex I would listen in fascination, but when a boy I liked wanted to kiss me I would flee in terror and avoid him thereafter.

When I first explored self pleasuring, I enjoyed the result it gave me but felt so confronted and squeamish about my own body that I used Glad Wrap to protect my fingers from skin-to-skin contact with what I felt was a disgusting part of my body!



These are just a few examples of how my utterly confused, suppressed, and conflicted attitudes toward sexuality played out in my teenage years through to early adulthood.

A result of some pretty vicious cultural conditioning; from growing up in a society that possesses unhealthy and unhelpful beliefs regarding sex; living in an environment with external influences that simultaneously shame, suppress, and neglect sexuality, whilst being sex obsessed and using it to sell everything. We become voyeurs, rather than empowered participants.

These conflicting messages about such an important, natural, and fundamental part of ourselves - and from such a delicate and impressionable age - have a detrimental effect on individuals and the broader community as they hypersexualise with one hand, and shut down healthy sexual identity and expression with the other.



Fast forward to my mid-twenties, when after a couple of years of deep personal development and inner work I’d finally arrived at a point where I could no longer ignore my sexuality and the numerous barriers that prevented me from embracing it. It was time. This last terrifying frontier - I knew I had to face it.



Next minute, I’m in a room surrounded by people disrobing one item of clothing at a time, speaking aloud the limitations and unhealthy beliefs they were intentionally letting go of with each piece of fabric dropped to the floor. Being witnessed with respect and love by near strangers in my complete and vulnerable nakedness.

On other occasions finding myself experiencing feelings of freedom and empowerment as I use colourful body paint to brush exquisite artworks on fellow women’s bodies while we bask in the sun, finally and blessedly comfortable with our nudity. Or in a workshop talking frankly about genitals and orgasm, learning about anatomy and sexual techniques as other participants ask questions that we’ve all wondered about. Or at a retreat where we are being taught how to communicate our needs, desires and boundaries with others, and massage techniques that we can use on ourselves or a lover.

I tried a LOT of different things.

An open mind was the only way with which to approach this journey borne from a determination to change my patterns around sexuality. Because by golly was it a wild and challenging ride!



Finally, I stumbled across ‘Yoni Mapping Therapy’ - a holistic healing modality for women, created by Bonnie Bliss, who later became my teacher and is often referred to affectionately as “The Vagina Lady”.

YMT involves private one on one sessions for women that include talk therapy, sexuality coaching and education, homeplay practices and resources given, full body massage, yoni massage and vaginal mapping.

A woman might come for a session if she has had sexual or medical trauma in her past; if she has a lack of sensation in her vagina, numbness or difficulty orgasming; if she has pelvic floor issues or scar tissue post-birth; if she wants to simply know more about her body, where everything is down there, feel more pleasure, and connect more deeply to her yoni and sexuality. The list is extensive, but one of the biggest gifts this modality gave me was the embodied experience of having another person touch me in that area - an area of a woman’s body that is usually only touched in sexual or medical contexts, and associated with expectations on her - with only nurturing, conscious, and respectful presence. With no expectations of me to perform, no pressure to return the touch or give back in any way, no need to do anything at all but completely receive and enjoy touch. It felt safe, held, and pure. Without the other variables that are present in a sexual context with a partner, I was able to observe everything that went on in my body and witness all the subtle sensations, emotions, and holding patterns within me. To be touched with no goal or undercurrent of expectancy, to feel safe to surrender and be fully present in my body, was one of the most healing things of all.



YMT as a stepping stone on my healing journey, and my training to become a practitioner of this unique modality changed the game for me.

Mine is a classic story of turning your biggest weakness into your greatest strength - or in my case, my biggest fear into my greatest passion.

Sexuality had been an area rife with fear, shame pollution and imbalance in my life.

Until one day when I looked around and took stock - I was now the one sitting at the front delivering a workshop on pleasure anatomy, speaking with ease, passion and comfort about topics that, in the past, would have made me shudder to hear uttered aloud. I was the one holding space for women who’d suffered sexual trauma as a child, or mothers who were wanting help preparing for birth. I was the one educating others on sexual techniques, relationship dynamics, and self pleasuring practices..



Facing my fears and exposing to the light areas that I’d drawn the curtains on my whole life has been an eye-opening and revelationary process.

Of course, when it comes to your unique healing journey, every individual will face different challenges and set out on their own special and epic plight. As the old saying goes; “different strokes for different folks”. But regardless of how you go about it, the rewards are enormous and expansive.

And when it comes to sex, I believe most people can relate to experiencing a few challenges in that realm, and having a few wounds that might need looking at.

I don’t think we talk about sex enough in the right ways, and the stigma and taboo shrouding this essentially human part of us will continue to do damage if we don’t actively change how we interact with it in our society. So I start conversations about it wherever possible, and try to provoke people to think and speak about it more openly. I write this article and share bits of my story for the same reason.



Healing our communication around sex is the first step.

So my challenge to you:

Bring it out of the shadows and have a convo with someone about sex today!



The Sexy Side of Essential Oils - Botanical Tools for Enhancing Your Sex Life!

A true essential oil is the lifeblood of the plant. An essential oil contains the unique properties of the plant and transfers them to the human body via living, bioavailable chemical constituents that carry concentrated information inherent in that plant’s make up. This information speaks to our DNA, nourishes our cells, and informs our bodies in very special and supportive ways.

I’m going to talk about two of the delivery methods with which you can use essential oils to help things along when it comes to your libido, hormones, and sexual experience.

One requires you to get yourself a diffuser, for the aromatic benefits of essential oils. This method disperses them into the air to be inhaled, thus impacting your mood in a fascinating way. Diffused essential oils have the ability to bypass your “thinking brain” (frontal cortex) in order to impact your “feeling/emotional brain” (limbic brain). This part of your brain is responsible for emotions such as happiness, peace, sadness and love, as well as impulses like sexual desire. Inhaling essential oils also stimulates the amygdala, which is the centre for our sexual drive, and some oils even have molecules so tiny that they can cross the blood-brain barrier and support healthy oxygen levels around the pineal gland which is associated with hormonal regulation.

So as you can see, there is a pretty good argument for whacking a diffuser in the bedroom and enjoying the benefits it can bring to your nocturnal activities.

The other method is topical, since we absorb essential oils so readily through out skin and in this way can soak up their amazing benefits whilst smelling all kinds of delish!

So without further ado, I’m going to introduce you to a few of the stars in the bedroom and some suggestions about how you can use them to optimise your sex life!

Ylang Ylang:

In Indonesia, the petals of this flower are scattered over the bed of newlywed couples on their wedding night. This is a famous aphrodisiac. It increases libido and sexual energy, and harmonises and balances masculine and feminine energies. Ylang Ylang has a calming effect that can help you relax - which in turn increases your ability to feel pleasure and open into orgasmic states because, as you may know, relaxation and a calm nervous system is essential to female arousal processes.

Pop a few drops in the diffuser, or dilute it with a carrier oil (perhaps some jojoba, sweet almond, or coconut oil) to apply to your inner thighs before heading to bed.

Cypress:

Cypress is a game-changer because of it’s ability to stimulate blood flow and circulation. Consider for a moment that women have just as much erectile tissue as men do in their genitals, and that all of this tissue needs to become engorged with blood through the process of arousal to allow for epic orgasmic pleasure. Does increased blood flow and circulation take on a whole new meaning for you now? It’s important stuff, and Cypress essential oil, diluted and rubbed on your inner thighs will be a winning stroke. Likewise for blood flow to the yoni’s counterpart. Slather up his inner thighs as well; this oil doesn’t discriminate!

Nutmeg:

Nutmeg is a powerful vasodilator too, which means it opens the blood vessels and makes them bigger allowing more blood to flow through them. Remember why we like increased blood flow and circulation? Yep.

It’s also energising, and stimulates both physical and sexual energy so it’s great for stamina. Nutmeg is effective for every gender, but needs to be diluted a LOT as it is very potent. This goes for when you’re diffusing it or applying it to those inner thighs!

Clary Sage:

This oil is fabulous for PMS and helps balance hormones, being especially useful around your moon time.

The libido boosting benefits of this one are due to it’s phytoestrogens which are plant compounds that act like oestrogen in the body in a healthy, safe way. Since we naturally feel more “in the mood” when we are ovulating and oestrogen levels are at their highest, the phytoestrogens in Clary Sage can increase libido and natural lubrication.

Diffuse it, and include it in any oil blends that you use topically on the body - especially inner thighs and below the navel, for optimal proximity!

Orange:

Orange is a fun and bright essential oil that lifts the mood, puts some zing in your bing, and energises the spirit. Orange essential oil is said to open the sacral chakra near the pelvic area which is associated with pleasure, creativity, and sensuality. It’s aphrodisiac properties help de-stress and embrace sexual expressiveness and fun.

Plus it smells zesty and delicious whether diffused or used topically in a base oil.


So those are some top picks to start incorporating into your sexy routine, all of which are quite common, affordable, and easy to acquire as far as essential oils go.

I needn’t remind you that it is essential (ha, see what I did there?) to ensure you only use the highest quality, food grade oils - especially when straying so close to your more delicate zones!

Here’s a little recipe for you to try at home:

(And if you want to try out my homemade, organic Motion Lotion - a natural lube and massage butter - my Menstrual Magic Magnesium Spray, or my breast massage oil feel free to get in touch as I make them in small batches here in Melbourne and can tailor an order to suit your needs.)

A Mood Enhancing Diffuser Blend (for you to use in the bedroom):

3 drops of Jasmine

3 drops of Orange

2 drops of Ylang Ylang

1 drop Clary Sage

Yoni Care: The Fundamentals for a Healthy Vagina

How to keep your vagina happy as a clam!



 

So, you’ve got a vagina, huh?

Well then firstly, congratulations and hooray for your Vagay-jay!

But now, let’s talk vag-care…

 

Since you are the proud owner of your very own luscious vagina, I have no doubt you’ve experienced first-hand, or known someone close to you who has struggled with some sort of vaginal infection or dysbiosis such as UTI, Bacterial Vaginosis, or Vaginal Thrush/Candida overgrowth.

 

I, myself struggled for years with an unhappy vagina, and on my epic quest to heal her I did quiiiiiiite a bit of research on this topic.

I felt utterly ashamed and embarrassed that I, someone who works in the very industry that this concerns (the vagina industry..? Well, why not!) could be having such trouble with my own Yoni. How could I possibly hold sessions for women and speak with confidence about areas such as sexuality, the female body, and self care, when I couldn’t even keep my own ladybits in balance?! I felt like a fraud, an imposter, a failure.

 

But this experience took me to places I needed to go to learn more, in order to help and empathise deeply with the women I worked with, and eventually the shame dissipated as I realised how unavoidable vaginal issues like mine were with our culture’s approach to education on such matters - dismally lacking.

I discovered that conditions such as the ones I’ve listed above are all too common, and as a Yoni Mapping Therapist and vagina enthusiast, I speak to a LOT of women about their unfortunate battles with their boxes (excuse the shameless alliteration, it’s just too much fun!).

 

So to assist with your plight to maintain a healthy, balanced vagina, I’ve compiled some of the top tips out there on caring for your Yoni.


 

Before I hand over my best advice on how to have the healthiest lady-parts, it is important to understand the role that your gut plays in all of this.

 

The gut microbiome has an effect on the vaginal microbiome. To learn more about this gut/vagina connection, head over to my other blog post that speaks a little bit more in depth about this here.

But if you can’t be bothered with all of that, the bottom line is look after your gut at all costs, and enlist the help of some serious, high quality probiotics (the best strains are listed in my article) when necessary.


 

But now for some more general tips on how to keep your cooch happy as a clam! (I just can’t stop..)


 

  • Wear cotton, bamboo, or other natural fibre underwear - no synthetics like lycra and nylon - no tiny thongs, G-bangers, or underwear with seams or designs that might cause friction or irritation. Thongs in particular can spread bacteria, from the anus to the vagina (BV here you come!), and also cause rubbing in a very delicate area.

 

  • Go ‘commando’ at bed time - sleep without any underwear, and with only loose fitting, soft clothing made with natural fibres.

 

  • Go easy on the ‘shapewear’, jeans, and other tight fitting garments that trap heat and moisture in the area. Try to wear infrequently and for short periods of time only. (So pull out those flowy harem pants and get your “Om Shanti, Shanti” on, girl! Once you go comfy, you never go back!)

 

  • Avoid sugar (and grains)! This is a big one, and possibly the hardest for most to adhere to! But all bacteria need the right environment to feed and grow and all bacteria need heat, moisture and food to grow. Bad bacteria have one particular food source that they enjoy: sugar. And not only sugar how we know it - in it’s sweet or refined forms either… All refined grains (which can be found in foods like bread, cereals and pasta) are high glycaemic carbohydrates which convert to sugar. This then leads to high blood sugar levels and high insulin response. Grains also contain other inflammatory agents, such as gluten, leptins and lectins. High insulin levels lead to inflammation, but they also interfere with hormone regulation too, namely higher amounts of oestrogens. High oestogen levels increase the amount of glycogen in cell linings of the vagina. This provides the right environment for candida growth and germination to flourish, as well as other bad bacteria and vaginal infections. (This is why thrush is more common during pregnancy, when oestrogen levels are higher.) For those wishing to maintain a healthy vaginal flora, or to get rid of vaginal infections and bad bacteria, strict adherence to a grain free and sugar free (no refined/processed food) diet is a must (and if this seems to extreme, as close as you can get - reduced amounts of these foods is better than nothing!). The fact is, all bad bacteria need sugar to survive. Take away the food source, and then these bacteria cannot survive, or multiply. Choose whole foods that are either grown or caught in the wild, without processing: protein (meat or non-meat), veggies in an array of colours, nuts (especially almonds and walnuts), leafy greens, seeds and good fats (avocado, eggs, fish, chia seeds). This will all benefit your gut and your health in general in a multitude of ways!

 

  • Avoid glycerin based lubricants - they will feed the bad bacteria, especially yeast. Eek! Go as natural and chemical-free as possible. (I make my own so I know what’s in it. If you’d like to buy some of my organic, handmade ‘Motion Lotion’, get in touch!)

 

  • Never, ever douche or deodorise with any preparations, unless it's with a doctor-prescribed medication to treat an infection - and even then I’d be wary.. Douching increases your risk of vaginal irritation and upsets the healthy bacterial balance of the vagina. A healthy vagina does NOT need a vaginal deodorant or douching, because a healthy vagina is self-cleansing should not have bad odour.  “Numerous studies have shown the deleterious consequences of douching. It increases your risk of BV. It increases your risk of pelvic inflammatory disease. If you’re pregnant, it increases your risk of preterm birth. It may increase your risk of cervical cancer. There are a lot of negative associations that have been linked with douching.” (https://www.fredhutch.org/en/news/center-news/2015/04/lessons-about-vaginal-microbiome.html)

 

  • Contrary to popular belief, soap (ONLY certain kinds listed below) can and should actually be used to clean the vulva (just the external bits!). Just like we wash our hands to remove bad bacteria, women need to wash the outer vaginal area (labia, mons pubis, clitoris etc). Bad bacteria feed on built up oil, sweat and other secretions, and need moisture and heat to multiply. The vagina and its associated parts are the perfect place for this to happen. Water alone will not get rid of built up salts, oils and other secretions which bad bacteria feed on. This is why soap is also needed. Wash/wipe very gently - do not scrub too thoroughly - with hands or a clean cloth only. Harsh soaps can cause irritations, so go for a super gentle, pH neutral soap (such as a vegetable based one like castile soap) to help keep the bad bacteria under control. Bad bacteria build up can not only cause odours and bad smells, but they can also cause irritation to the vagina and surrounding area. This can lead to infections, such as thrush and bacterial vaginosis.

 

  • Beware of vaginal steams or herbal bombs - Just like douching, vaginal steam baths disrupt the healthy vaginal flora, and inevitably kill off beneficial bacteria. It can also lead to overgrowth of bad bacteria once the good bacteria is killed off. Steam can cause irritation to the mucosa and the lining of the vagina and surrounding areas, further leading to bacteria and yeast being inoculated into the damaged area. There has also been reports of steam causing burns to the vaginal area, and home made herbal vagina ‘bombs’ causing severe reactions and even toxic shock. - There are specific herbs, such as naturopathic and chinese herbal medicine formulas, which have been proven to eradicate bad bacteria and vaginal infections, as well as promote a healthy vagina and gut environment. But these are taken orally, not intravaginally.

 

  • Stress levels. Stress is one of the major players in the disruption of the vaginal flora and vaginal health. Evidence suggests that the incidence of vaginal infections are higher in people who are stressed and have compromised immunity because of it. And too much stress is never good for anyone, so it’s important to address high or unhealthy levels of stress for many other reasons anyway! Stress is also the main contributor towards menstrual cramps. High stress levels produces a chemical that causes spasms in the uterus lining which are felt as period pain/cramps.

 

  • The health of a sexual partner is important too - Partners can also share their bacteria if their hygiene is not adequate. Thrush and other infections are often passed on by a partner, then recurrent transmission to each other continues. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is sometimes referred to as Penis Injected Disease. (HA!) The use of condoms and barrier methods can also help you to keep a healthy vagina too. Make sure your partner has good hygiene habits in order to keep your vagina healthy too.

 

  • Minerals and vitamins such as Vitamin D, zinc, Omega 3 oils, antioxidants and Vitamin C also assist in vaginal health and reducing the risk of vaginal infections.

 

  • Smoking is a habit which creates an unhealthy vagina, and can even lead to cancers of the cervix, endometrium and other parts of the body. Smoking of cigarettes and use of recreational drugs leads to disruption of the healthy vaginal environment, kills off good bacteria and promotes bad bacteria overgrowth. It's now known that the by-products of chemicals in cigarettes can be found in the vaginal secretions and cervical mucus of women. While smoking can cause bad breath in someone that smokes, it can also cause bad odours, similar to that of a smokers mouth due to these toxic chemical built in the vaginal mucus.

 

  • Shower and wash carefully after sexual intercourse (and pee after sex too to avoid UTIs) to remove bacteria build up that can cause infection. Also be aware of your sexual partner’s hygiene as a partner (female or male - particularly uncircumsized males) can carry the bacteria that can contribute to increased risk of the above infections as a result of the contamination causing dysbiosis.

 

  • Only use organic, unbleached sanitary products made from cotton or bamboo, a moon cup, fabric pads, or another natural alternative. Regular sanitary products such as pads and tampons contain dioxins which are toxic chemicals and are terrible and risky biz for your vagina! Exposure to dioxins for women can increase the risk for pelvic inflammatory disease (which can cause major reproductive issues), endometriosis, and cancer.

 

  • Eat lots of healthy fats such as nuts, olive oil, flaxseed, avocados etc, to regulate your cholesterol, keeping oestrogen levels in balance and creating a healthy mucosal lining that helps ward off infection.

 

  • Another food related tip - certain meats and dairy contain artificial hormones that imitate estrogen. These can block oestrogen from the vagina, preventing the mucosal lining from forming.

 

  • It is very important to keep yourself well hydrated! A hydrated yoni is a happy yoni, and when we are dehydrated, so is our yoni!

 



 

So there you have it, a pretty extensive list, if you ask me!

If you’re already doing some or all of these things then ace! If some of them seem unmanageable, then take it or leave it.

But if possible, incorporate at least some of these healthy-vag-habits into your life, because every little bit helps. Doing some of them is better than doing none of them, remember!

 

If you have any questions, want to book in for a private session, or would like some further support, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me here or Instagram @ freya_graf_ymt

 

I wish you all the happiest, healthiest, most empowered pussys possible!

 

Signing off,

Freya

My lush yoni cushions. As they are anatomically correct (as correct as a fabric vagina can be!) I use them as teaching props.

My lush yoni cushions. As they are anatomically correct (as correct as a fabric vagina can be!) I use them as teaching props.

Vagina Bugs! Discover the key to freeing yourself from thrush and BV

THE VAGINAL MICROBIOME and the gut/vagina connection:


 

Have you experienced the struggles of vaginal dysbiosis, in the form of infections such as Bacterial Vaginosis or Candida overgrowth/Thrush? Believe me, if the answer is yes, you are certainly not alone!

 

These conditions are actually more common than anyone would believe, though because of the sensitive nature of the topic, and the shame shrouding any sort of vagina-related ailment, not many women are too keen on talking openly about it. Fancy that! With attitudes and connotations surrounding even a healthy vagina often straying into the territory of ‘gross’, ‘unclean’, ‘smelly’, and ‘shameful’, it is no wonder we women are reluctant to let on when things aren’t quite right down there.

 

I, myself, had a long battle with vaginal dysbiosis, manifesting in alternating thrush and BV infections for years!

It’s hell, and severely affects your self confidence, sexual expression and drive, and your relationship with your body suffers heavily.

So I get it. Oh, boy, do I get it!

And this experience, this ongoing struggle with my own vagina, led me on a path of research and healing that has resulted in me having quite a bit of information on the topic that I’d like to share with you.

 

Now it’s not the be-all and end-all, and there are MANY things you can do to ensure a happy little vag-emite (only the Aussies will get that one, and I seriously won’t blame you if you don’t approve!).

I’ve written a big old checklist of these ‘Yoni Care’ measures in another post that you can read here.

 

But the main thing I’d like to discuss in this post is the importance of the gut in vaginal health. The gut microbiome is extremely important to all manner of things when it comes to general health and balance in the body, and it also has an effect on the vagina’s microbiome too.

 

Yes, your vagina has it’s own little microbiota, or vaginal community of bacteria, that prefers to exist in harmony with just the right balance of each of the many bacterial strains that coexist in there.

It’s inhabited by a range of microbes from a pool of over 50 species.

Lactobacilli are the most common, particularly in healthy women.

Vaginal microbiota form a mutually beneficial relationship with their host and have major impact on health and disease.

 

When this bacterial balance is tipped in favour of some of the more nasty players, Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) can result. And when other members of the vaginal village - such as yeasts - that are perfectly normal, happy little guys in the right amounts, are allowed to flourish a bit too much, they overthrow the protective bacteria and turn into a real problem - as in the case of candida overgrowth resulting in vaginal thrush.

When the vaginal microbiota is a touch too diverse, the friendly and essential hoard of lactobacillus are edged out of their homes and unable to hold down the fort like they normally do to maintain a nice acidic pH and keep yeast at harmless levels. This tip of the balance in the wrong direction is often what has happened in the case of BV, which is the most common urogenital infection among women of reproductive age. In half the cases of BV, the infection is asymptomatic, so you may not know you even have it.

This is a little scary because having BV can increase the risk of preterm labor and low birth weight, pelvic inflammatory disease, UTI, and increased susceptibility to sexually transmitted disease, including HIV.

 

The reason I mention this is because it’s all about having the right balance of bacteria to maintain a healthy environment within the body. And the gut microbiome can affect the vaginal one through bacteria from the GI tract ‘trans-locating’ (ie. migrating) to an area where it is not supposed to be! In other words, any pathogenic strains of bacteria that are present in the gut, can therefore infect the vaginal tract and disrupt the delicate balance of flora there and this could lead to BV or Thrush.

So looking after the gut is of the utmost importance, not only for the health of the rest of the body, mind, and soul (I mean, heck, the gut manufactures 90% of the body’s serotonin - If that’s not reason enough to take better care of it, I don’t know what is!) but for creating and maintaining vaginal health and balance.

 

Which brings me to my next point.

The most common treatment for BV typically includes antibiotics such as metronidazole. This is very effective at the time of treatment but the recurrence rates of BV are really high, and often once women have gotten rid of the infection for the first time, they will continue to suffer and struggle with re-appearing symptoms intermittently on an ongoing basis for years. Not to mention the effects of the antibiotics on the gut AND vaginal microbial balance, wiping out much of the good bacteria, along with the bad, in one foul swoop.

Therefore it is common for the BV to go away for the moment, but for candida to make itself a problem almost immediately, with women then see-sawing between the two versions of vaginal dysbiosis indefinitely.

Over-the-counter treatments for thrush are similarly short-lived in their effectiveness, with a huge recurrence rate, and an increasing resistance to the drugs in these medications as a result of such frequent use.

 

Clearly the available medical treatment of these infections needs some work!

 

So, if you absolutely have to use antibiotics - and by all means, do your darndest to avoid this if at all possible! - clever use of probiotics is essential to repopulate the vagina (and gut) with the helpful, protective kind of bacteria that belongs there in abundance.

Several scientific studies have shown that the use of antibiotics to get rid of the bad bacteria coupled with pro-biotics to populate the vaginal tract with the right sort of organisms is the most effective - uch more effective than just antibiotics alon.  

To get a tad nerdy on you for a second…(as if I hadn’t already!)

When looking into probiotics, the two most beneficial strains of lactobacillus for the vagina specifically are . rhamnos GR-1 and . reuter RC-14 which have been shown to have the best success at adhering to the epithelium as well as colonising the area and lasting the distance well after treatment has ceased.

Studies have tested both direct vaginal and oral methods of administering probiotics.  Interestingly, the oral method seems to be just as, if not more, effective than vaginal suppositories.

 

A lesser known treatment that many doctors swear by, and that studies have begun to support, is Boric Acid suppositories.

Boric acid is a natural antifungal and antiseptic, and studies have shown that it inhibits the growth of Candida albicans, the strain of yeast behind most cases of the vaginal thrush, as well as other kinds, such as Candida glabrata, an increasingly common cause of infection that tends to be more resistant to other treatments.

The powder, an irritant, should never be applied directly; suppositories are designed for this reason and can be directly inserted inside the vaginal tract for 5 to 7 days.

 

Another possible treatment that is supported by some interesting new research is the use of Saccharomyces boulardii. This little guy has been shown to be helpful in the treatment and prevention of vaginal thrush as it inhibits the adhesive and biofilm forming abilities of Candida Albicans (the main culprit of thrush infections).

S. Boulardii is interesting as it is actually a tropical species of yeast, but it functions in the body like a pro-biotic!

This is pretty cool stuff, and a great start, however there is not enough research data in this field to make a definitive conclusion about whether it is an effective treatment for thrush, and pro-biotics and dietary factors are still the leading approach for any vaginal dysbiosis. But watch this space!


 

So, there you go! The low down on your down low!

I hope this information was helpful, and if you’re left wanting more you can read this article on additional Yoni Care tips, or get in touch with me to ask a question.

You can holla at me or book a private session here or my instagram @ freya_graf_ymt

Vaginal Flora

Vaginal Flora