Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Your Body IS A Wonderland

The months after giving birth should be magical, relatively speaking—bonding with your new baby, a little time away from work, reveling in the wonders of your body (look at what I just made!). But C., the wife of a dear friend, is now four months postpartum and hating her body. She’s managed to lose her baby weight, but she’s amazed that her pre-pregnancy pants no longer fit. “My hips just aren’t the same,” she says.

Of course they’re not—they’ve just widened enough to allow her darling son to come into this world with the greatest possible amount of ease. But staring at the tabloids at how celebrities magically return to pre-pregnancy form in what seems like a weekend is a taunt to postpartum women everywhere. Many of us are probably conflicted about celebrity-watching in general—“why should we care about these people?!?” vs. “what will she wear/date/look like next?!?” And watching famous bodies around pregnancy—from the first bump to the postpartum runway strut—is even more fascinating. It’s a reminder that these women are mortal, and are “just like us” reproductively-speaking.

You CAN get your body back closer to what it was in healthy ways (and cheaper ones than hiring a chef, a trainer, and a nanny). But the bottom line is that some changes to your bottom half may be there to stay. Even if you lose all of your pregnancy weight—good for you!—pregnancy leaves a mark, in the form of changes to your boobs, belly and hips. I tell my postpartum patients (and friends...and even myself) to wear them proudly, as a badge of honor. You're a goddess for being able to grow and give birth to a complete little person.

Do you know any women saddened by their body's changes after pregnancy?

Photo credit: Shaun Johnston

Monday, September 14, 2009

Jiffy Lube

One of the best ways to improve your sex life is to add a lubricant. Lube may help prevent condom breakage, and may increase both your comfort and his sensitivity (a good answer if he’s whining about using a condom). Lubes are especially important for back-door play, when you’re more at risk of tears in your tissue. You want to find a lube that’s effective for your needs and non-irritating. Fortunately, there’s a multitude of options in the stores or even in your kitchen. In general, you’ll need to try out a few with your guy to see what’s most comfortable. To help find the one that’s best for you, use the handy guide below.

Water-based: Overall the safest types, non-irritating, but can dry more quickly. Ones with glycerin (Replens) or sugar (many flavored ones— for external use only) may increase risk of yeast infection, so steer clear if you’re prone. AstroGlide has the preservative propylene glycol, which may be irritating if you’re sensitive. Trying to get pregnant? KY Liquid contains chlorhexidine, which is toxic to sperm—but don’t count on it if you’re trying to avoid pregnancy!

Oil-based: Vaseline, mineral oil, baby oil. Not water soluble, harder to rinse off, may stain your sheets. Deadly to latex condoms, diaphragms and dental dams, but fine with polyurethane condoms. May coat the vagina or rectum and increase infection risk, so reconsider if you’re plagued with frequent bouts of vaginitis.

Silicone-based: Safe with all condoms and latex products. Longer lasting but harder to wash off—this makes it excellent in the shower. May cause damage to silicone sex toys (too much of a good thing).

And if you find lube messy, here’s a fantastic tip: buy an oil pump mister that’s usually used for nonstick cooking; fill it with the lube of your choice, then spray away where it’s needed. Presto, no sticky hands. Have you found any fun ways of using lube?

Photo credit: The Truth About...

Monday, September 07, 2009

All That Itches Isn't Yeast

A patient came into my office last week with the common complaint of itching down below. K told me that she has had multiple yeast infections in the past, but her self-treatment with an over-the-counter remedy wasn’t working this time. I examined K and found not yeast but bacterial vaginosis, or as it’s more whimsically known, BV.

For those of you lucky enough to not ever (yet) had BV, it is a vaginal infection but not an STD. Our vaginas normally have a number of bacteria that merrily reside there and keep us healthy, just like on our skin and in our intestines. Sometimes, and we don’t know all the reasons why, one particular bacterium oversteps its bounds and grows out of balance with the rest. We do know that women who are sexually active are much more likely to get BV, but they don’t get infected directly from their partner—it’s a homegrown bug, as it were. I know it sounds confusing—an infection that you get from having sex, but not one that you catch from your partner.

BV has a classic set of symptoms:
  • The vaginal discharge is thin, white to grayish, and a bit sticky.
  • There may be an unpleasant odor, unfortunately fishy in nature.
  • Some women experience vulvar pain or burning, or like K, itching.
Fortunately, BV is easily treated, but you do need to see a doc for treatment—there’s no over-the-counter remedy. Your doc will likely give you metronidazole, in either the oral (Flagyl 500mg twice daily for a week) or vaginal gel (MetroGel, 0.75% nightly before bed for five nights) form. You won’t hurt yourself using a treatment for yeast if you have BV…but you won’t feel any better either. So if you notice a funky discharge, with or without itching or an odor, head to the gyno.