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Love Your Body, Love Yourself: What to Know About Your Cervix, Your Vulva, and Your Flora

SimpleHealth
SimpleHealth
Published: February 8, 2021Updated: February 9, 2021

Relaxing essential oils, a dance party for one, a nourishing home-cooked meal—these are all self care ideas we love and wholeheartedly endorse. But we also believe that an important part of self care is showing your body the respect it deserves, and making sure you’re taking care of your whole body in healthful ways. This Valentine’s Day, show yourself some love by learning more about your cervix, your vulva, and your flora—plus, the best way to take care of each body part.

What to know about your cervix

The cervix is a passage about 3 or 4 centimeters long that connects the vagina and the uterus.* Its big job is to produce cervical mucus, which changes its consistency to either promote or prevent pregnancy during the menstrual cycle. It’s also what dilates (a.k.a stretches reeeeeally far open) during childbirth to let the baby pass through. Finally, for all those times you’ve nearly panicked thinking you have a lost tampon just floating up into your body, thank your cervix: it’s what keeps tampons and ~other objects~ from straying too far up inside of you.*

The best way to take care of your cervix? Get the HPV vaccine. HPV, or human papillomavirus, refers to a group of over 200 related viruses, about a dozen of which can cause certain types of cancer (like cervical cancer) when spread through sexual contact.* By getting the HPV vaccine, you’re protecting yourself against infection from high-risk HPVs that could cause cancer as well as most strains of genital warts (but be aware that the HPV vaccine doesn’t protect against other sexually transmitted diseases).*

What to know about your vulva

First, a quick anatomy lesson. Your vulva is a totally different body part from your vagina, even though they have similar names. Your vagina is an internal body part, and your vulva is on the outside of your body.

And what can also be confusing: Your vulva refers to a group of body parts, not just one particular part. Your vulva is the part of your genitals that live outside of your body, which includes your labia, your clitoris, your vaginal opening, and your urethra (yup, the hole you pee out of).*

A little self care tip for your vulva: Just like other parts of your body, your vulva can get dry and prone to chafing (even if you’re pre-menopause). A dab of basic petroleum jelly can help ease any discomfort without risking more irritation (but make sure you only apply on the outside of your body).*

What to know about your flora

Nope, we’re not talking about a fresh bouquet of flowers (although hey, that also sounds like a great way to treat yourself on V-Day). We‘re talking about your gut health, or how all the bacteria in your body work together in the GI tract. Your gut health is so important that it’s been linked to other aspects of your health, like your immune system, skin health, vaginal infections, and more.*

In order to take care of your flora and keep your gut happy, make sure your gut microbiome has a healthy mix of all the good bacteria your body needs. That means keeping your nutrition on point with gut-healthy foods like yogurt, kimchi, legumes, and a variety of fruits and vegetables.* You can also boost the health of your flora by adding in a daily prebiotic or probiotic supplement, which might even help clear up any GI distress you experience.* (Psssst, we have something coming soon for this)! 

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Sources

* https://www.webmd.com/women/picture-of-the-cervix#1

* https://www.news-medical.net/health/How-to-Remove-a-Stuck-Tampon.aspx

*  https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/infectious-agents/hpv-vaccine-fact-sheet

*  https://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv-vaccine-young-women.htm

* https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/health-and-wellness/sexual-and-reproductive-anatomy/what-are-parts-female-sexual-anatomy

*  https://www.self.com/story/why-you-might-want-to-consider-moisturizing-your-vagina

*  https://www.healthline.com/health/gut-health#_noHeaderPrefixedContent

*  https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/improve-gut-bacteria#TOC_TITLE_HDR_7

*  https://gi.org/topics/probiotics-for-the-treatment-of-adult-gastrointestinal-disorders/

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