A self-care guide for women’s reproductive health

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    CARING for your own reproductive health — and talking about it — is still considered pretty taboo in the Philippines. But as a normal part of life, it should be embraced and discussed openly. To keep your reproductive health in check, these are some things you should incorporate into your routine:

    Visit your OB-GYN regularly. Everything you need to know about the female anatomy and how to care for it, you can learn from an OB-GYN. In general, you should make annual visits and have essential tests done. These include the pelvic exam to check your uterus for any abnormalities, and a Pap smear to test for signs of cervical cancer.

    A visit to the OB-GYN is also an opportunity to get answers to any questions you might have about your reproductive health. It can be about unusual symptoms, irregular periods, sexual health, planning for pregnancy, or just how to better care for your body in general.

    Follow proper hygiene practices. Roses are used as a metaphor for vaginas as they are extremely delicate. They should be washed at least once a day using plain unscented soap. You can also use feminine products like GynePro to minimize odor, itching, and irritation. But, stay away from heavily scented soaps or douche mixtures, as they tend to increase the risk of bacterial infection.

    Track your cycle. Even if you’re not planning for a pregnancy, tracking your monthly cycle is always a good practice. CNET’s guide to period tracking lists apps like My Flo and Clue as useful digital tools for monitoring your cycle. Period calendars help you keep track of common signs and notice unusual symptoms like irregularities in your cycle. Those can be a sign of a number of things, such as PCOS, and should be addressed immediately. You can also plan your social calendar around it, especially if you’re the type to stay at home and lie low on red days.

    Find the right birth control. Preventing unwanted pregnancies is not the only reason to take birth control pills (BCP). BCPs are also prescribed for women with hormonal imbalances that lead to difficult and debilitating symptoms. Some of the most common BCP brands that Filipina women use are Althea, Diane, and YAZ. They help ease cramps, balance hormones, and even clear cystic acne. That said, it’s hard to know which one is right for you. There’s some trial and error involved, and you need to consult with an OB-GYN to know your options.

    Practice safe sex. It should go without saying that practicing safe sex is a must, but in the Philippines it’s a whole other topic that’s taboo, too. Safe sex is not just about avoiding unwanted pregnancies, but also preventing sexually-transmitted diseases. To practice safe sex, use male or female condoms, avoid changing partners too often, and know your partner’s sexual history as much as possible. Practice open communication not just with your partner, but with your OB-GYN, too, so they can prescribe necessary tests you might need.

    Make time for self-love. There’s nothing wrong with masturbating — in fact, it brings a lot of health benefits other than sexual pleasure. According to Pretty Me’s review of bullet vibrators, the physical act of female self-love improves blood circulation, which can be good for relieving cramps. It’s also beneficial for peri-menopausal or menopausal women experiencing dryness in their genitals. Plus, masturbation can release endorphins, one of the so-called happy hormones, which can be effective in relieving stress and anxiety. More importantly, there’s nothing wrong with being in touch with your sexuality and fuelling your libido.

    Do your Kegel exercises. When preparing or recovering from childbirth, it’s highly recommended to practice Kegel exercises. These are exercises that target the pelvic floor muscles, which support the womb during pregnancy. Kegels are actually very simple to practice — it’s very similar to controlling the flow of your urine by squeezing those internal muscles. Do this 8-10 times a day to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.

    Caring for your reproductive health should be part of a holistic self-care routine. Follow these to give your reproductive system the proper care it deserves.

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