Women are taught to eat right and exercise to maintain good health. And, that's certainly true, but they have the power to proactively take control of their feminine health during all stages of life from the first period through post-partum, during perimenopause and beyond. Maria Sophocles, MD, OB/GYN, the Medical Director of Women's Healthcare of Princeton, offers these tips to help change your health for the better.
Tips to keep healthy include:
* Freshen up by balancing pH: Vaginal pH can be offset by menstruation, sex, and hormone fluctuations during menopause and pregnancy. An imbalance in pH can often lead to a dreaded UTI or other infection like bacterial vaginosis, causing uncomfortable itching, burning, and smell. A pH-balancing gel like RepHresh will normalize pH and eliminate odor. Many women mistake BV for yeast infections and are prescribed antibiotics, which can throw off the normal pH.
* Eat right: Drink one less soda a day and lose 15 pounds in a year, and replace the "white" foods with "brown" like brown rice and whole wheat bread. Take fast food out of your diet completely. It's full of sugar and trans fats that clog your cell walls and contains toxins that are bad for the heart and arteries. Most fast food also contains chemicals like MSG that should be avoided.
* Consider a vaginal probiotic: Millions of women suffer from recurrent vaginal infections. Sex and antibiotics can be the reason why. RepHresh Pro-B provides 2 strains of vaginal lactobacilli specifically designed to maintain vaginal health by keeping yeast and bacteria balanced every day.
* Optimize vitamin D levels: Safe sun exposure is a powerful and inexpensive intervention that can have profound benefits on your health. Enjoy 10-15 minutes of exposure to natural sunlight daily for nutrition, mental health, and bone density. Supplement a balanced diet with essential nutrients to promote healthy teeth and bones, support the immune system, and benefit cardiovascular health.
* Fast fix to eliminate painful sex: Stress and decreased estrogen levels during menopause can cause uncomfortable dryness and irritation. Replens Vaginal Moisturizer provides relief from internal dryness for three days and Replens Silky Smooth is a preservative-free silicone lube that should be used just before sex to avoid abrasion and ease comfort.
* Exercise: Regular exercise decreases chances of developing cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity. Try ending the day with a personal dance party, watch YouTube videos, or get a subscription to a virtual exercise class.
* Track your menstrual cycle: Stress and other factors can affect the menstrual cycle, so it's important to stay on top of your cycle whether or not you're planning on getting pregnant. Make sure to have a pregnancy test like First Response Early Result on hand to find out 6-days sooner than your missed period. If you are trying to conceive, make sure to use a lubricant that won't harm sperm, like Pre-Seed.
* Decrease stress: Don't feel guilty taking time to clear your mind. Plan quiet times and activities like reading a book, starting a garden, or even meditating. Listening to relaxing music or taking a bath helps to slow down heart rate and breathing. The better you feel mentally can improve how you feel physically.
* Afraid to laugh, sneeze or cough after having a baby? Pregnancy and birth can give pelvic floor muscles a serious beating. Even moms in their 20's often notice post-natal side effects that include accidental loss of urine when they laugh, sneeze, cough, exercise, or during sex. Consider an FDA cleared, at-home pelvic floor strengthening device to restore post-baby strength and reduce leakage like Attain.
* Prioritize sleep: Sleep is like a reset button for the body and mind. Prioritize getting at least 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep and try to stay off technology at least an hour before bed to avoid blue light keeping you awake. If you have trouble sleeping, try taking a vitafusion Max Strength Melatonin gummy before bed.
There's no better time than now to change your health for the better. Eat right, prioritize fitness, take control of your vaginal health and remember, you are your biggest health advocate.