Let's Talk About Sex(ual Health)

Starting the dialogue about sexual health and wellness. . . Read more

Starting the dialogue about sexual health and wellness. . . Read more

I don’t see enough of a conversation on sexual health. So many health, wellness and fitness bloggers and rarely, if ever, do I see a post or a nod to sex and/or sexual health. It is a sensitive and a private topic, and I understand that not everyone is comfortable or willing to start the dialogue. Historically, women were not permitted to have good sex, and we certainly were not supposed to talk about it. I used to feel a lot of shame about my sexual activity, and while I may find myself blushing or wondering if i am oversharing, I know this is one of the most important things we could ever talk about.

LET'S TALK ABOUT SEX

Do I have it?

I do. Sometimes I wonder if I'm not having enough sex, or if I'm having too much. I recall all of those magazines that I used to read and how they spelled out how to "keep your man happy" through various means of pleasure. UGH. Remember, there is a very broad range of "normal", so explore what your natural preferences are and find your own "normal". 

HORMONES

Hormones dictate a lot about us. They especially dictate your menstrual cycle, your libido and how they both function. If you think you might have hormonal imbalances, or if you are living with poly-cystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), I have heard good things about Womancode, a book by Alisa Vitti. I have been considering reading this book because I am increasingly interested in healing my body through nutrition, and I do wonder if I suffer from a hormone imbalance. 

All about those menstrual cups. It took me a while to try it, but I am SO GLAD I did. Featuring the Lunette Cup. 

All about those menstrual cups. It took me a while to try it, but I am SO GLAD I did. Featuring the Lunette Cup. 

SPEAKING OF MENSTRUAL CYCLES

I really love the free “P Tracker Life” app – this lets me keep track of when my period started and stops as well as allowing me to see a guesstimate of when I am fertile, and to place a marker on days that I am intimate. This feature is typically most useful for women that are trying to get pregnant, which I am not, but I still like to be able to look and see what the patterns are. I really encourage you to get familiar with your body as much as possible. Which means ditching pads and tampons and trying out a menstrual cup. More on my experience and thoughts about cups here

Via  Milk and Honey

Via Milk and Honey

A quick word on infections:

I struggled with recurring UTI's and yeast infections, to the point where I would rather opt out of sex in order to avoid them. I got to a point where I knew antibiotics were not the answer, and I was tired of doctors offering that as the only fix. Thankfully, I read about D-Mannose. D-Mannose is actually a type of sugar derived naturally from plants. You can find supplements to take orally. These have been an actual life-saver for me. I am very happy to report that I have not had a single UTI since incorporating D-Mannose, and I do not even have to take it every day. In fact, I don't even bother at all when I am on my period. Find what works for you, but if you struggle with UTI's - I recommend this natural supplement over antibiotics, any day. 

WHAT ABOUT BIRTH CONTROL? 

I will be the first person to tell you to avoid synthetic birth control. I encourage you to do the research on your own, as there are multitudes of websites/doctors/medical sources that will say opposing things. I am not a medical professional. You must make this decision for yourself. You and only you should decide what you put into your body. Only you should decide if you wish to supplement with synthetic hormones and pills. I personally choose to take no contraceptive pills or to use synthetic hormone therapy of any kind. I did, however. From age 16-23, I was on the pill and dealt with a plethora of health/emotional uproars because of it. My doctor made it seem like it was the only choice. It was what everyone else seemed to do, so I did the same. My body is still stabilizing after the years of ups and downs that I put it through from birth control. I highly suggest you reconsider your birth control options. There is nothing more rewarding than identifying with a greater self awareness of your body! It makes me feel powerful and beautiful and strong. 

SO WHAT DO I USE FOR BIRTH CONTROL?

I currently use the copper IUD, also known as Paragard. It is a non-hormonal IUD which will remain effective for 10-12 years. I actually blogged about my experience, and you can read more on that here. My period is as regular as a period could ever be, and I am so grateful. However, I did stop having a period for almost a full year after taking the hormonal pill coupled with poor nutrition and over-exercising. 

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON HAIR DOWN THERE?

REMOVING ALL THE HAIR
OFF YOUR BODY IS OKAY
IF THATS WHAT YOU WANT TO DO
JUST AS MUCH AS KEEPING ALL OF THE HAIR
ON YOUR BODY IS OKAY
IF THATS WHAT YOU WANT TO DO.
- YOU BELONG TO YOURSELF. 
— Rupi Kaur

THOUGHTS ABOUT MASTURBATION?

Again, you belong to yourself. Do what you want. Everyone's sexuality develops in different ways and each of us has our own preferences. Some of us are very sexually active and others do not feel the need to have sex. Some of us don't feel sexual at all, and prefer to have non-sexual relationships. If you feel like pleasuring yourself, my vote is always "yas!". If you want to purchase one (or more) vibrators or dildos, do it! If you want specific recommendations from me in this department, please feel free to message me on Instagram

LEARNING WHAT TURNS YOU ON

Part of familiarizing yourself with your natural preferences is understanding and exploring your sexuality. We can do this in many ways. A wonderful tool that I came across recently was the Erotic Blueprint quiz. You can take the quiz here. Essentially, there are five blueprints: energetic, sensual, sexual, kinky, and shapeshifter. I scored nearly the same for both shapeshifter (turned on by and can play in all of the blueprints) and kinky (people who are turned on by taboo, this includes anything that feels taboo to the specific person). This quiz was helpful to me because although I somewhat knew that about myself, I wouldn't have understood it on the level that the quiz results spell out. Perhaps you feel conflicted that you are sexually aroused by being dominated in bed, and wonder what that means for you in the age of #MeToo. This piece in The New York Times addresses that in detail.

I really hope this helps someone. I have been interested in sex and sexual health since I used to stay up past by bedtime and watch Talk Sex with Sue Johanson late at night. I would love to keep this conversation going, please comment below to let me know that you read this! And as always, feel free to reach out via Instagram or email. 

CBD: What Is It and Does It Really Work?

Pin this photo to read the post later! 

Pin this photo to read the post later! 

Suddenly, cannabidiol (CBD) oil seems to be everywhere. People are dropping it into their morning coffee, swallowing capsules, and loading it into their vape pens. There are claims that it relieves anxiety and depression and masks chronic pain. Many of you know that I have been obsessed with testing out various CBD products over the last few months!

So, what is it and does it really work? Over the past few months I have experimented with various forms of CBD oil to monitor how and if they helped alleviate the symptoms of my anxiety. 

Disclaimers: (1) I am not a medical professional, nor a CBD expert. The goal of this post is to share information about CBD and my personal experience with it. I did my best research and fact-checking for accuracy.  (2) I was not monetarily compensated for these brands nor do I receive affiliate dollars if you buy them. They are honest opinions and reviews.

INTRO TO CBD

What is CBD? CBD is one of many compounds, known as cannabinoids, that are found in the cannabis plant. 

So, is CBD marijuana? Until recently, the most well-known compound in cannabis was THC. This is the most active ingredient in marijuana (and the one that alters the mind and makes you high). Marijuana contains both THC and CBD, but the compounds have different effects on the body. Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive. This means that you will not be getting stoned (sorry).

Is it legal? That depends. The legality of CBD depends on which state (or country) you reside in. There are 2 kinds of CBD. Hemp CBD products are available widely online (and what is legal here in West Virginia) whereas cannabis derived CBD products are only available in some states at medical dispensaries. I have only tried hemp derived CBD. 

Does it create a dependency? Research shows that CBD does not cause dependence. It can be a great alternative for those trying to stay away from opioids or pharmaceuticals in general. 

What dosage is right for me? Start by taking small doses and observe what happens. Listen to your body. Make small adjustments. 

THE BENEFITS

Why are people using it? 

  • CBD has been proven to have natural pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties. This is great for those suffering from chronic pain from diseases like fibromyalgia or even pain associated with cancer. 
  • CBD has been proven to have anti-seizure properties. 
  • It can also be used to topically treat skin conditions. More and more CBD is being recommended for those with acne or eczema! It can be worked into your regular skincare routine, regardless. 
  • Struggling with nausea or vomiting? CBD can be used to treat it. 
  • And the big one: anxiety. The whole reason I sought out CBD products was to help treat my anxiety symptoms. CBD has been shown to reduce levels of stress and anxiety even in individuals that suffer from PTSD or OCD. 

HOW TO USE IT?

CBD comes in a variety of forms; the selection of products can be overwhelming! Some more expensive than others. There is everything from oil, tincture, sublingual spray, topical creams, infused with essential oils and even edibles. You will want to determine what symptoms you are hoping to alleviate to determine which method of consumption is best for you. 

If you are wanting to use CBD oil for its anti-inflammatory properties on your muscles or joints, a gel or cream would probably be best. Similarly, if you want to use it to treat or prevent acne, a topical treatment would be ideal. For very low doses, some companies sell CBD infused with essential oils in a roller form. 

For all other symptom treatment, you will want to choose something that has the dosage you are looking for that is easy for you to consume. You can place drops of oil under your tongue (and let it soak in), you can add it to foods or drinks that you consume like coffee or tea. CBD capsules are also an option, these are typically a higher dosage, but not always. You can also purchase a spray that you can aim at the back of your mouth. 

Blue Ridge Hemp CBD gel - great for muscles and joints!

Blue Ridge Hemp CBD gel - great for muscles and joints!

MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE  

I tried many variants of CBD products. I tried products from Plus CBD, Blue Ridge Hemp and Appalachian Cannabis Company. In fact, I tried most of the product types that I listed above. I wanted to use CBD to see if helped alleviate some of the symptoms of my anxiety. That being said, I do find that taking CBD orally does help. However, it does not erase my anxiety. Unfortunately, anxiety doesn't 'go away' but taking CBD regularly alleviates the tight feelings in my chest, as well as making me feel an overall more calm feeling. 

As for my preference in which product to use, I honestly preferred the softgel capsules. It was easy, tasteless and provided the right dosage for me. I did not take one of these daily, only about every 2 to 3 days. I also enjoyed this tincture of peppermint CBD added into my morning coffee. This has been a great alternative to sweeteners or creamer, so if you drink something that you would like adding peppermint to, try a tincture. 

I also saw a benefit from CBD in my sore muscles. I used this ointment after lifting heavy at the gym, and noticed that my muscles were not as sore the next day than on days where I did not use the ointment. If you have joint or muscle pain, I would highly recommend adding in a topical CBD product to your routine. 

I have yet to try CBD bath salts or sunscreen, but I am very interested in these two products and will update this post as I try more things! Some still see CBD as controversial, and that is okay. I encourage you to open your mind and try it out, especially if you suffer from an ailment that it has been proven to help with. 

Plants>pharmaceuticals