Most Intimate Health Questions, Answererd | Health | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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Most Intimate Health Questions, Answererd 

Sometimes The Questions That Make You Blush Are The Very Questions You Need To Ask

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"Sometimes it's not actually weakness of the muscles, but tension in them that limits their effectiveness and prevents them from doing their job—keeping you dry," says Leonard. In other words, don't do your kegels like you're training for the Olympics; more is not always better, especially if you aren't doing them correctly. Instead, follow the advice of a trained PT on the type and amount of kegels that are optimal for you to prevail over the bathroom blues.

What can vaginal odor tell me about my health?

"A normal vaginal odor will have a musty, earthy smell. It shouldn't be strong," says Liz Pickett, a midwife and women's healthcare professional based in Kingston. The presence of a sharper, more pervasive odor can be a sign that something is wrong—and when that happens it's best to come in for an examination. En route to a diagnosis, Pickett will ask questions about additional symptoms such as vaginal discharge, itching, or pain. "From there, you can get clues or rule things out: Is this bacterial vaginosis (BV), a yeast infection, or pelvic inflammatory disease?"

Vaginal ecology is about pH balance; a healthy vagina will be slightly acidic, with a pH between 3.5 and 4.5, and will secrete small amounts of discharge to keep itself clean (much like saliva keeps the mouth clean). Yet a number of disruptors can throw the pH off balance: menstruation, tampons, soap, douching, sex, or sitting in a wet bathing suit or sauna for too long. If the pH of the vagina gets too acidic and wipes out too much good bacteria, the result can be a yeast infection. If it gets too basic, an overgrowth of bad bacteria can create bacterial vaginosis (BV), which is characterized by a telltale fishy odor. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) can cause a strong odor as well, along with pain and fever. "I always tell people the vagina is a self-cleaning organ," says Pickett. "Don't use soap in it—just water. Soap can wash out the good bacteria, and there's a reason why it's there. Women are so self-conscious about their odor. It's a cultural stigma. People think of their vaginas as these dirty things."

Pharmaceutical treatments can help with BV—but if the odor is persistent, Pickett recommends inserting a probiotic capsule vaginally every night until it's resolved. In clinical trials, the probiotics Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus plantarum were proven effective. Probiotics can also be used preventively. "If you've been tested and you have normal flora but still feel like you have an odor, you can use the probiotics vaginally," says Pickett. Most important, she adds, "Don't try to diagnose or treat yourself. You should always see your doc."

Can acupuncture help me last longer in bed?

Male patients sometimes come to Ben Fleisher, acupuncturist and owner of Woodstock Healing Arts, because they've heard that the ancient Chinese healing practice can help them regain their youth in the bedroom. There is some truth to the claim, says Fleisher. "Acupuncture can definitely help with erectile dysfunction. A number of older gentlemen have verified with me that things have improved for them in that department. There's a certain glimmer in their eye when they report this to me."

For men who would rather not take a pharmaceutical like Viagra, an alternative treatment like acupuncture can hold appeal. While there are no clinical studies verifying acupuncture's efficacy with erectile dysfunction, Fleisher points to anecdotal evidence from his own practice as well as a few documented case studies. The holistic approach of traditional Chinese medicine might have something to do with its purported success. "The question is, why are you not lasting longer, and what are your expectations? Are you thinking too much of 'performance' in the bedroom? Is there another underlying issue such as chronic pain? Usually by addressing those questions I can help with someone's overall health—psychological, physical, and sexual health. If someone is not comfortable in their body, or they have some kind of chronic distraction from being intimate, you can address a lot of those things with acupuncture."

Patients often ask if there is one acupuncture needle in particular that can work bedroom magic. "There are a few," he says. "If we are using those needles, someone with erectile dysfunction would notice a difference." But again Fleisher emphasizes the holistic piece. "Acupuncture helps with overall metabolism. We do a lot of lifestyle and dietary changes to improve how your body is functioning, and that often results in having a better time in bed."

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