Nothing enhances your life more than understanding your body. When you engage in daily movement, sexual pleasure, and a passion-filled life, you experience agelessness regardless of how many candles are on your birthday cake this year.
Unfortunately, many women believe that after menopause hits, they’re no longer sexually attractive or desirable. Intercourse may become painful due to vaginal dryness as estrogen levels drop, or scar tissue from gynecological surgeries. In addition to sexual dysfunction, women over 50 are more susceptible to frequent urinary tract infections, limiting daily activity that nourishes the body and spirit. And of course, no woman suffering a yeast infection is going to feel sexy.
“But sensual pleasure is your birthright!” Christine Northrup, M.D., board-certified ob/gyn and NY Times best-selling author says in her book Goddesses Never Age: The Secret Prescription for Radiance, Vitality, and Well-Being. “Making your sexual and sensual pleasure your priority will change your life and fill your cells with life-giving nitric oxide, the molecule of life force.”
Reclaim your sexuality and femininity with these everyday habits to keep your vagina healthy and happy:
- Take a daily probiotic. You know that beneficial bacteria are good for the gut, but did you also know that they can help fight yeast and bladder infections by restoring healthy vaginal microflora? Look for probiotic supplements with live strains of lactobacilli to boost good bacteria, which can drop along with lower estrogen levels in postmenopausal women and increase risk of yeast and urinary tract infections.
- Lube up. Vaginal dryness can be a symptom of vaginal atrophy, a condition associated with painful sex that affects up to 50 percent of premenopausal and menopausal women, according to Sara Gottfried, a Harvard-trained MD and best-selling author of The Hormone Cure. A vaginal lubricant used liberally can help make sex pleasurable again, allowing you to reap the benefits of regular sex including a strong pelvic floor, improved immune system, lower blood pressure and heart attack risk, improved sleep, and even a higher pain threshold.
- Take the no-added-sugar challenge. Yeast feeds off of sugar, which is why this study links high blood sugar to vaginal yeast infections. And this study found that women with diabetes are at even higher risk of recurring yeast infections, possibly due to a spike in blood sugar levels. Read labels and remove foods and drinks made with high-fructose corn syrup and other added sugars. The American Heart Association recommends that women limit added sugar intake to about 6 teaspoons daily.
- Choose cotton undies. Panties made with synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester trap moisture, leading to the perfect breeding ground for yeast to thrive. To maintain a healthy vaginal pH, choose cotton instead to allow the vagina to breath. And remember to change out of tight sweaty workout clothes as soon as possible to prevent vaginal infections.
- Don’t douche. Washing or soaking your vagina can disrupt the necessary balance of vaginal flora and acidity, leading to an increased risk of infections, irritation, and sexually-transmitted infections. While 1 in 5 women 15 to 44 years old still douche, most doctors tell patients not to, as it can cause an overgrowth of harmful bacteria.
Stay proactive about your vaginal health and make your sensuality and sexuality your priority- at any age.