Do Vitamin Supplements Actually Do Anything?

Vitamin supplements are everywhere. They are being hawked on podcasts, social media, TV commercials, and the aisles of grocery stores and pharmacies around the world. From over-the-counter vitamins to little vitamin-rich packets that we can add to our water for a healthy drink, it seems like we can get vitamins everywhere. But do these supplements really do anything? And if they do…what do they do? Let’s talk vitamins because the truth might surprise you.    Vitamins are, of course, very good for you. You can get a majority of your vitamins through vitamin-rich foods, but not everyone has access to everything our bodies need. For example, people in certain regions around the world don’t get vitamin D naturally due to a lack of sunlight. That is where supplements come in to ensure that we can have healthy bodies. Vitamins help boost our immune systems and improve our overall health. They aren’t going to cure ailments, but they can fend off disease and infection.    So, yes, vitamins themselves are healthy, but not all supplements are safe - especially when taken with other medications. Federal regulations for vitamin supplenemts are not nearly as strict as they are for prescription drugs. That means that lost supplements and multivitamins might contain ingredients that are not actually listed on the label. Your Flinstones multivitamin might contain additives that aren’t necessarily regulated or healthy. Yikes! That does not sound like something any of us expect when it comes to taking vitamins.   Supplements can also interact with medications and cancel out some of their effects. You should always cojnsult with a doctor before taking a new supplement if you have other health issues. For example, St. John’s Wort can affect birth control and vitamin A can increase your risk of lung cancer if you are a smoker. Do your research and talk to your doctor.    Taking some vitamins are better than taking zero vitamins. A study showed that women who took a multivitamin daily for more than three years had a lower risk of heart disease. Also people who have restrictive diets and food allergies can benefit from vitamins since they do not get as many necessary nutrients from their diets. In general, vitamin supplements do more good than harm and that’s great news.    As usual, you can’t beat a healthy diet and lifestyle. Supplements seem to work when, well, supplementing a healthy diet. They aren’t going to magically make you healthy if you rarely get nutrients through your food. With that in mind, eat a balanced diet and your multivitamin will do your body good!

Why You Like Being Choked During Sex

Have you tried choking during sex before? Choke sex is when someone gets choked during sex and it is a kinky BDSM practice that many non-BDSM people have been introducing into the bedroom. But why are people doing it? Why do people like being choked during sex? There are actually a few explanations for why people like being choked during sex and they are very interesting…and very hot.   For some people, choke sex is simply role-play that plays into fantasies some people have about rough sex and “being taken” which is a fantasy specifically known as ravishment. Ravishment fantasies involve domination and submission with the dominant party coercing the submissive one (with prior consent and heavy communication, of course). According to an article in Women’s Health, sex therapist Christine Milrod explains the fantasy as a man wanting you “so much that he is prepared to do anything to have you”. That anything? Choking!    Choking, like a lot of sexual role play, is all about power. You have power over the man and the only way he can show his dominance is by choking you. Dominance is why the chokie and the choker may both be getting off. If you get off on power and ravishment, this may be right up your alley.   But are there scientific reasons why people like being choked during sex? Actually, yes!    You may have heard of “erotic asphyxiation” which is getting off based on the suppression of air to your lungs. After airflow is restricted, there is a rush of endorphins that get released after the person is able to take their first real breath. When in the middle of intercourse, this practice can heighten the ecstasy felt during sex as sex is an activity that already produces dopamine and other feel-good chemicals. Choking right before you orgasm can intensify your pleasure when you cum. No wonder so many people are trying this!    So should you try choking during sex? Researchers and sex therapists actually urge beginners to be careful. They aren’t kink-shaming - they simply don’t want you to accidentally kill your partner.  It is very easy to get carried away while in the throes of passion and end your good time in a life-ending crime that will haunt you for the rest of your days. That is why they recommend engaging in only the lightest amount of force at first or focusing on other forms of pleasure that involve the neck like nibbling or giving you a pearl necklace (no, not the jewelry). Start small and work your way up to choking.     Remember to always communicate during sex. If you are going to try choke sex for the first time, agree on safe words and signals and talk about your comfort levels before you get down to business. It is also suggested that you debrief after to talk about what you both liked about the experience and what you might want to try next time. Consent is sexy, so make sure you consent before you start choking. 

Which Foods are Best for Vagininal Health?

We all know that diet and nutrition benefit our bodies, but let’s talk about food that specifically helps your vagina. If we are what we eat, which food should we be eating to keep our vags happy and healthy? It turns out there are a lot of delicious, vitamin-rich foods to add to our diets for a healthy vag.   Yogurt There is a reason why women look so happy in yogurt commercials. It turns out that yogurt is excellent for vaginal health. Yogurt has good bacteria that balance your pH levels and fight off vaginal infections - especially Greek and plain-flavored yogurts. Plus, it’s said to make you taste better.    Fermented Foods Like yogurt, these fermented foods include healthy bacteria to help the vaginal biome stay stable. These include drinks like kombucha as well as pickled foods like kimchi, kefir, and even sauerkraut. Yes, sauerkraut! Who would have thought that pickles and sauerkraut could benefit vaginal health?   Sweet Potatoes Sweet potatoes are seriously a miracle vegetable. You can cook them in a variety of ways - for breakfast, lunch, dinner, AND dessert - and they are good for you. Sweet potatoes are special because they are high in Vitamin A, and beta carotene, and they help keep your mucous membranes healthy. What’s that do? Healthy mucous membranes help fight vaginosis which is a very common infection in the vagina.    And that’s not all! Sweet potatoes are high in fiber and they help to regulate blood sugar levels which is really good for people with polycystic ovary syndrome. Sweet potatoes can help reduce PCOS’s painful symptoms. Like I said, sweet potatoes are a miracle food! Plus they taste good. Need I say more?   Prebiotics Prebiotics are compounds found in high-fiber foods such as nuts, seeds, legumes, and leafy greens. Leafy greens also help with blood circulation and they contain nitrates that decrease vaginal dryness. What can’t kale do?! These foods keep you regular overall (I’m talking about bowel movements, ladies), so when you eat a healthy amount of prebiotics you are doing your entire downstairs region some good.    Fish There is a reason why people take fish oil supplements. Fish oils and the omega-3s found in fish are super good for you because they help with blood circulation (which is good news for your sex drive). Studies have also shown that fish oil can alleviate painful menstrual cramps. So go eat that salmon fillet (with a side of sweet potatoes!).    Avocados  We know that you don’t want to sound like a Millennial stereotype by putting avocado on your toast, but avocados are proven to help your libido. They are high in healthy fats, B vitamins, and potassium, and studies have even found that avocados can increase success with IVF treatments. So, go ahead and order the avocado toast. It’s for your sex drive!    Cranberries You’ve definitely heard jokes about cranberry juice being drunk when you are on your period, but those jokes exist for a reason. Cranberries really do help your vagina, especially during menstruation. Healthy compounds in cranberries balance the vagina’s pH level. That’s the key to a healthy vaginal biome. Also, the acid in cranberries fights off bacterial infections. That is why cranberry juice is always recommended when you have a UTI!    In general, berries are really good for you. When you get tired of cranberries, feel free to eat pomegranates, blueberries, goji berries, strawberries, and raspberries to improve your blood flow. All of these berries are high in antioxidants!    Be careful, however, to drink real cranberry juice. Stay clear of added sugars or concentrates as those won’t have the same effect.    Water I know that water is not food, but water is a magical liquid that helps stabilize your entire body. We all know that water is good for us, so stay hydrated. 

True Love and Fisheads

Author: Elizabeth Teets The only thing I know for sure about love is how to screw it up.  As I walked home from our second date I cried my eyes out. Sobbing quietly as I walked through Portland’s Pearl District looking at my bloodshot eyes in the shop windows.  God, I am pathetic.  But it was all happening too quickly and it was freaking me out. I knew I was never going to go on a first date again because I was probably going to marry this man.  Bye bye dating people that are mean to me just for the thrill. Fuck, this totally blows.  I met Kevin on a medium-hot day under some twinkle lights at an outdoor concert venue. The Raconteurs were playing and people were enjoying one of those perfect rare summer evenings.  We on the other hand had both signed up for the shitty job of taking people's cell phones against their will. Jack White has this thing where he wants all his shows to feel like a rock concert in the 90s so he employs a third-party company to confiscate unsuspecting concertgoers' cell phones upon arrival and lock them in canvas cases where they cannot access them until the end of the show.  I signed up for this job via Craigslist because I needed $200 dollars. Instead, they accidentally double-paid everyone, so I got $440 and a boyfriend. Considering I had to stand in the sun for seven hours and handle the abuse that comes from cutting off people's addictions to technology I would say I was fairly compensated.  I hadn't dated anyone in almost two years and was on a string of weird flings. Whenever I went on a bad date, or more frequently found a bad hook-up, I would look up at the sky to God or whatever heavenly drag queen pulls the strings and ask, ”Where is he?!” I was desperate for the divine to show me where whoever I was supposed to end up with was because I had probably just left a car that smelled like weed and dirty laundry. I was searching high and mostly just found lows.  Kevin was supposed to be working at the ADA entrance, only agreeing to work because he was promised he would be by the stage and basically get paid to see the show. Instead, he got bumped from that job and placed next to me at the main entrance far away from the stage with the general public yelling at us because they had crushes to text back and candy crush to play. During the show, he had to stay with nothing to do but talk to me, as if my sky god said, “here have this guy, just please stop trying to fuck bartenders that look like your ex.”  My friend Shelby worked at the venue and was running around all night. I stopped her after I saw her say hi to Kevin. “Do you know him?” I asked giving her the girl to girl desperate look.    “Oh yeah he works in music,” She paused,  “He’s a beaut and I've never seen him with a woman.” He got my phone number at the end of the night, took me on a date to a rooftop movie a few days later and by the end of July I was having a meltdown because I liked him too much.  In our first few months of dating I went through an intense mourning period.  I'm never going to be a single girl again and I got here before thirty. I will never be thirty and flirty and fabulous.  I pouted while I fielded the inquiring questions: “Holy shit where did you find him?” “How is he so hot and so sweet?” “Did he used to model?” “He looks so stoked every time he looks at you, he's clearly obsessed”  I gritted my teeth. The sex was also very good. I was annoyed.  Even the cat loved Kevin. Whenever he opened the door she rushed to him. Demanding his undivided attention. He gave it to her, cooing, “Oh hi queen I missed you”  “Why is this happening to me”? I wailed to Sarah.  “Oh my god, calm down it's not certain you will be with him forever.” She humored me.   “But I will be!”   “Do you want to be?” That was the worst part.  “Yesssss, it's horrible.” I was so used to being single that I had planned my life around being single. All my heroes were single. All I knew how to be was single.  “I am never going to move to LA and date rich bachelors that make me sign an NDA now.”  I knew I sounded silly saying it. But Sarah being my wisest friend listened intently.  “Well in reality all you are giving up stories about getting less than you deserve.”  “I am a writer Sarah, I don't want to give up my stories.” Well, she mused, “You can finally have different ones. You already have dozens of shitty dude stories.”   It was nice to have someone to zip up my dresses.  I thought about it. I was afraid.  “I promise I will love you forever” he would whisper into my ear.  “I promise you will never be bored,” is what I said back, listing all I STDs I would never get to recover from as a fun story. Then a year passed and I was still afraid. What if this story was my only story for the rest of my life.  Friends I hadn't seen in a while would remark that it was nice that I had finally found a partner.  I am a queer woman but I prefer a boyfriend. I did not want this straight man to get the idea that we were any way equal.  Luckily having a  boyfriend meant that I had someone to go to the farmers market with on Saturday mornings, Or really the early afternoons when Kevin patiently let me watch the Golden Girls in his bed while I drank coffee, which took up most of the mornings. The nicest man in the world who was cool enough to date me waited patiently in line with me and the octogenarians since I had to have the prettiest pink Brandywine tomatoes from a very particular stand every week during the summers.  On our way back to the car, a guy in one of the stands held up a bag of salmon. “Five dollars” he screamed. I ditched my prince charming and walked back to investigate. Five dollars for steelhead. Upon further inspection, the bag was full of salmon. But only the heads.  “I’ll take it!” I said thrilled.  “Why?” asked Kevin panting from catching up since I ran off without comment.  “Because I promised you’d never be bored, I winked,  “And I can make cat food.” I took the fish heads home. Two bags for eight bucks.  “At least they aren't the crabs,” Kevin pointed out, referring to the time my car broke down on I-84 with two of the world's largest live crabs in the back we had purchased at an asian seafood store on 82nd. The store was filled with what we would refer to forever as “the tanks full of nightmares”. The crabs were closer to the size of a small dog than regular crustaceans. The day my car had overheated I pulled to the side of the freeway. The crabs in the backseat started to move closer to us, the brown bag inching closer and closer all on its own. It felt like the end.  We got back to my apartment and put the fish heads in the fridge's bottom drawer.  “You aren’t actually going to cook those,’ he said making me more determined.  I continued to sing the fish heads song I had been singing all the car ride home.  “Fish heads, fish heads, yummy yummy fish heads, fish heads, fish heads eat them up yum!” With Kevin safely back at his own apartment, (I wouldn't let him live with me yet despite his protests) I was determined to make my own cat food. A recipe I found online said to bake them, split them down the front of the nose, take the meat and mix in a food processor with broccoli and an egg. Simple enough.  I was careful not to look at the fish head with sad eyes, taking them out of the bag with tongs and placing them on a foiled cookie sheet. I covered them up with more foil, stuck them in the oven, and proceeded to get drunk on prosecco.  A half-hour later I took them out. The first few were easy to slice and debone. I collected the good meat in a bowl. Then I wasn’t careful and accidentally made eye contact. I screamed and ran outside.  “I scared myself.” I texted Kevin.  “Baby. PUT. THE. FISHHEADS. IN. THE. TRASH.” “No, this is for the cat. She likes you more than me now, it's not fair.’ An hour and some more disturbing eye contact later I had a bowl of the perfectly pink salmon and broccoli mousse.   The cat wouldn't eat it. I protested with her. “Come on! It's organic! This is better than what you eat every day.” Nothing. She wanted the shitty canned stuff.  A woman who was so used to garbage she didn’t want anything else. 

The 7 Most Common Sexual Fantasies

Sexual fantasies are a normal part of human sexuality. In fact, research suggests that nearly 100% of people have sexual fantasies. However, very few people talk about their fantasies with their partner. Source: While sexual fantasies are normal, it's important to remember that they are just fantasies. It's important to be respectful of your partner's boundaries and to never act out a sexual fantasy without their consent. Sexual fantasies are a normal and healthy part of human sexuality. nearly 100% of people have sexual fantasies. However, few people talk about their fantasies with their partner. Fantasizing about sex can be a way to add excitement to your sex life, or it can be a way to explore hidden desires. Fantasizing about sex can also be a way to release sexual tension. There are many different sexual fantasies, but some are more common than others. In this blog post, we'll explore the seven most common sexual fantasies. 1. Fantasizing about sex with a famous person: In our celebrity-obsessed culture, it's no surprise that many people have sexual fantasies about celebs. Fantasizing about having sex with a famous person can be a way to add excitement to your sex life or to explore your hidden desires. 2. Fantasizing about having sex in public: Public sex is often taboo and considered "naughty." As such, it's no surprise that many people have sexual fantasies about it. If you have this fantasy, you're not alone! 3. Fantasizing about having a threesome: Threesomes are often considered the Holy Grail of sexual fantasies. While they may be tough to pull off in real life, they're definitely a popular fantasy. If you fantasize about having a threesome, you're in good company! 4. Fantasizing about having sex with someone of the same sex: This fantasy is more common than you might think. Whether you're gay, straight, or somewhere in between, sexual fantasies are a normal and healthy part of human sexuality. 5. Fantasizing about bondage and domination: Fantasies about being tied up or being in control can be a major turn. 6. Fantasizing about being raped 7. Fantasizing about having sex with a stranger Sexual fantasies are normal and healthy part of human sexuality. Fantasizing about sex can be a way to add excitement to your sex life, or it can be a way to explore hidden desires. Fantasizing about sex can also be a way to release sexual tension. There are many different sexual fantasies, but some are more common than others. In this blog post, we explored the seven most common sexual fantasies.

Top 8 Sex Tips You Need Right Now

Hey there! In this post, we're going to talk about 10 sex tips that'll help you have a better time in the bedroom. Whether you're single or in a relationship, these tips will come in handy. So let's get started! 1. Talk about what you want One of the best things you can do to have better sex is to communicate with your partner about what you like and what you don't like. Too often, people assume that their partner knows what they want, when in reality, they have no idea. This can lead to some pretty frustrating experiences in the bedroom. If you're not sure how to talk about what you want, try this exercise: each day for the next week, think about one thing that you'd like to do in bed. It can be something as simple as trying a new position or trying out some light bondage. At the end of the week, sit down with your partner and share your list. This will give you a starting point for some incredibly hot sex. 2. Get in the right headspace Sex is one of those things that's really easy to get stressed out about. Will I be good enough? What if I don't like what they're doing? What if I can't get off? All of these concerns can impact your performance in the bedroom. So one of the best things you can do is to try and relax and get in the right headspace before you get down to business. 3. Make sure you're aroused One of the most important things to remember when it comes to having great sex is that you need to be aroused. Too often, people think that they can just go through the motions and everything will work out, but that's not the case. If you're not properly aroused, you're not going to enjoy the experience as much. You may not even be able to get off. So make sure that you take the time to get yourself aroused before you get started. This can mean anything from watching some porn to simply thinking about what you're going to do with your partner. 4. Pay attention to your partner One mistake that a lot of people make in the bedroom is that they focus entirely on themselves. They're so worried about whether or not they're performing well that they don't even bother to pay attention to their partner. This is a huge mistake. If you want to have great sex, you need to make sure that you're paying attention to your partner and their needs. This means being present in the moment and responding to their cues. If you're not sure what they want, just ask. 5. Take your time Another mistake that a lot of people make is that they rush through sex. They're so eager to get to the finish line that they don't bother to enjoy the journey. This is a big mistake. Sex is supposed to be fun and enjoyable, not a race. So take your time and enjoy every minute of it. 6. Be experimental Did you know that there are over 5,000 different sex positions that you can try? And that's not even counting all of the different things that you can do with your hands, your mouth, and your toys. So if you're looking to spice things up in the bedroom, experiment with some new positions or activities. You may be surprised at how much fun you have. 7. Be vocal During sex, people often forget to vocalize what they're feeling. This can be a mistake because your partner needs to know how you're feeling in order to adjust their technique. So if you're enjoying what they're doing, let them know. And if you're not, let them know that too. The more vocal you are, the better the experience will be for both of you. 8. Pay attention to your body One thing that a lot of people forget is that sex is a physical activity. And like any physical activity, it's important to pay attention to your body and how it responds. Hope you found this helpful, now all you need to do is go and enjoy it with your partner!

How to Find Healthy and Organic Lube

Lube is very healthy to use during sex as it reduces friction and can often enhance pleasure, but do we really know what is inside most lubes? We all know that varginas are amazing and with that amazingness comes extra sensitivity. Even the wrong soaps can set the pH balance off and cause a variety of problems. Research on vaginal health continues to develop, but we still put so many things inside of us that we don’t question. From tampons to lubes, we are trusting that these products are safe for us. But are they really? Source: Luckily, advances in vaginal health and research have also improved lubricants used for sexual health. Since more and more people are becoming educated on unhealthy chemicals and products in nearly everything we use, there have also been calls to look at what exactly goes into things that we put into our vaginas. Finally! Most people have no idea what is in over-the-counter lube, so let’s quickly look at the most common ingredients inside of most lubricants that you can buy at the store.  What ingredients are commonly in lube? Water, oil, and silicone are the most common bases for lubes. Every single lube will be based around one of those core ingredients. None of those ingredients on their own are bad for you and all organic lubes will have one of those ingredients in them. The “bad stuff” comes from the additives and preservatives. Read those labels to see what you are putting on your most sensitive bits!  What ingredients should you avoid?  Chemical ingredients found in lube can sometimes be toxic to the vagina and disrupt the microbiome which is the natural balance of microorganisms that naturally thrive inside of the vagina. Exposure to toxins can have a range of side effects from mild irritation to straight up infection. Here are some harsh ingredients to avoid:  Parabens - parabens are preservatives which can irritate vaginal membranes and cause rashes. There have also been studies that show parabens lead to fertility issues. Petroleum Jelly - Petroleum Jelly has been found to disrupt the vagina’s pH balance and cause bacterial overgrowth. Cyclomethicone - This ingredient is known to cause uterine cancer in animal studies. It is put in silicone-based lubes and unfortunately long term research has not yet been conducted that shows the impact of cyclomethicone in women. That seems like reason alone to avoid them for now!  Fragrances/Flavors - Be wary of generic “flavors” or “fragrances” listed in the ingredients because those often include chemicals that have carcinogens. They can also easily cause yeast infections. If anything is listed as a “___ flavoring”, it is probably not all-natural nor is it something that will make you feel good downstairs in the long run.  Are there natural lubes? We have talked about what you should avoid in lubricants, so now let’s talk about some lubricant green lights. Like we said, there are some all-natural bases in most lubricants. There are also some homeopathic lube options for you:  Aloe vera - Aloe is natural, but if you buy it over-the-counter make sure that it doesn’t have added ingredients like alcohol because that will cause irritation to your sensitive parts. Olive oil - It might sound ironic to use extra-virgin olive oil when you are practicing not being a virgin, but olive oil is a very pure oil to use as a lube. This is an all-natural lubricant, but the skin does not absorb olive oil easily. Make sure to wash quickly or else you may clog your pores. It is also not advised to use oils with condoms because natural oils can break down latex. Make sure to be safe when you are having sex with a partner!  Plain yogurt - Yogurt in your vagina?! But isn’t this a breakfast food? I know it sounds crazy (and delicious), but research has found that plain yogurt is good for vaginal thrush and it remains moist for a long time which is ideal for those long bedroom sessions. Remember to avoid flavored yogurts, even if it is an organic yogurt. Stick to plain yogurt to keep your vagina free of possible additives.  Primrose oil - Primrose oil is a common skin moisturizer that people use in all-natural skin routines, but research has shown that it also benefits vaginal dryness.  Coconut oil - Coconut oil is a good choice for oral sex because of theyummy flavor. This is an organic way to have a flavored lube! Much like olive and primrose oil, you should be careful when using oil lubricants with latex.   Would you rather buy a lubricant specifically made for sex that has natural ingredients in it? That might be your safest route. For a list of several different lubes to buy, check out this list from Women’s Health Magazine.  

Are You a Feral Girl?

At the beginning of summer 2022, TikTokers were advocating for having a “feral girl summer” instead of a hot girl summer. No, a feral girl summer is not about living with wolves in the woods. But what is it about? I started hearing about it everywhere without really knowing what it was supposed to mean. Rebel Wilson told the Today Show: “I heard this thing called feral girl summer. It’s when you don’t care.”  Source: Okay, a beauty trend where you don’t care about how you look? I guess I could get behind that. I assumed it was all about ditching beauty trends and being you, but then I read about the trend on Jessica DeFino’s beauty blog in which she criticized the maintenance it seemed to take to be a feral girl. It sounded like a classic ‘wear more makeup to achieve the look of wearing no makeup’ trend. At least that was what I gathered.  But then I did more digging. The trend actually advocates for not wearing any new makeup today…because you did not wash off yesterday’s makeup. The social media trend originated as a foil to hot girl summer and to the clean girl aesthetic that is still taking over TikTok. Clean girls are exactly what they sound like. Clean girls have clean clothes in neutral colors, neatly styled pony tales, and a barely-there makeup look that emphasizes healthy skin. If “clean girls” wake up early, drink green juice, and go for a job, feral girls don’t come home until 5 in the morning. When they wake up at one in the afternoon? They have a diet coke, go down a Reddit rabbithole, and text their friends to ask where they are going later in the evening.  It’s not really about beauty or fashion. In fact, it is anti-self-care. Feral girl is advocating for a lifestyle that is the antithesis of every influencer we’ve known and loved for the past few years.  To be totally honest, the feral girl lifestyle sounds like a weekend warrior to me. She sounds like grownup Effy from Skins (anyone?). She works hard Monday-Friday, 9-5. She exercises all week. She eats leafy greens. But then Friday and Saturday? She practically goes on a bender. Kale salad is replaced with as many tequila shots as a mouth can hold and late night cheese fries when you are hungry on your way home from the club. Cardio is replaced with dancing to house music. And your makeup? You applied it Friday night at 7pm and you only touched up your lipstick once in three days.  In reality, feral girl summer has nothing to do with beauty the way that “hot girl summer” implied. Feral girl is a lifestyle. Is it the healthiest lifestyle? Well, no. But that’s why it’s a mostly Gen Z trend - and I mean that in the best way possible. Being a “feral girl” is for people who are at an age where unhealthy choices are fun as long as they do not become unhealthy habits.  Perhaps there is something that all of us, at any age, can learn from a feral girl state of mind. We can all embrace a little more chaos in our lives.    Author: Stephanie Weber 

What Do Kegels Actually Do?

If you have a vagina, you have certainly heard jokes and references to kegels. Kegels are exercises that you can do to tighten your vag up! But is it really as sexual or as Goopy as it sounds (no offense, Gwyn!)? Are kegels real muscle-building exercise? Do kegels do anything at all or is this more bunk beauty science? Let’s investigate!  Source: Kegels were invented in the late 1940s by an American gynecologist named Arnold Kegel. He’s our kegel daddy! He developed these exercises to help people with bladder issues. But do they work?  It turns out that kegels are, in fact, very good for you and for more reasons than simply ‘being tight’ downstairs for sex. Kegels are not just for women, either. Men can benefit from strengthening up their pelvic floor, too! Everyone has pelvic muscles, so why not strengthen them the way that we seek to strengthen any other muscle group in our body? Before we get into some example kegels that you can try at home, let’s understand what they actually do. Kegels strengthen your pelvic floor which can get loose for a variety of reasons: lower-back pain, age, pregnancy and childbirth, surgery, constipation, pain during intercourse and others. How do you know if your pelvic floor needs to work on muscular strength? The quickest way to figure that out is with pee. If you leak a little bit of pee when you laugh, cough, or sneeze then you probably could benefit from kegels. If you also experience lower back pain or pain from urination or sex, you might benefit from trying kegels and seeing how that helps you.  It is possible that none of that applies to you. If that’s the case, then you might already have a strong pelvic floor or you are already doing kegel-like exercises without even realizing it. As for the rest of us, let’s find some kegels that work for us!  What do kegels actually do?  How to do kegels: Identify where your pelvic floor muscles are. The easiest way suggested for this is to stop urinating midstream - only do this so that you can feel your pelvic muscles when tensed. It is not advised that you do this repeatedly or use this as a kegel exercise because stopping urination midstream on a full bladder like that can lead to urinary infections because you might not efficiently empty the bladder entirely. Just do this in order to feel where your muscles are. OR envision tightening up your vaginal muscles around a tampon. Pretend that you are squeezing around said tampon. Do you feel that? Those are your pelvic muscles. Now align your body to find your technique. Doctors advise imagining that you are sitting on a marble. Tightening your pelvic muscles around the marble as if you are trying to lift it up. Hold it for a moment. Try holding it for three secons and slowly relaxing your muscles for three more seconds.  Focus on the pelvis. Avoid using your abs or thighs when doing these exercises. Focus all of your attention and strength on the pelvis. This can be hard for any beginning, but the key is to literally visualize your pelvis doing all of these things. Really feel what it is like for your pelvis to workout like this and focus on maintaining and recreating that feeling. Doing a kegel, in any position, should feel like lifting your anus and vagina to tense up your muscles in between. You will lift, feel the tension, and then relax upon releasing your muscles.  Repeat! After doing several reps, make sure that you repeat these. It is advised that you try to do three sets of 10 repetitions a day. As you grow stronger, you can increase to 15 and go from a few times a week to everyday. It’s like any other workout. It will be tiring and difficult at first, but as you grow stronger you will be able to do so much more.  Kegel exercises are quite easy to do. You literally contract and relax those muscles repeatedly after locating them. You can do them, sitting, standing, laying down, or kneeling. If you need some help getting started, there are several youtube videos that will guide you through quick kegel workouts like this one.  You can make kegels a daily part of your routine because you only have to do a few of them for it to start to work, but like any workout you do have to repeatedly do it to see results. Thus you can easily set aside 5-10 minutes to strengthen your pelvic floor a few times a week and you will be better off than if you did nothing at all. After a few weeks, you should notice results (like leaking urine far less often).    Author: Stephanie Weber 

You Will Never Own Me

There is a tabloid story that has lived in my brain rent-free since I first encountered it in 2015. Although not in a literal tabloid, the still available E Online article could easily have appeared within the glossy pages of People or US Weekly. It is written in the classic tabloid format showing two celebrities, Kesha and Rhianna wearing the same dress, a slim-fitting bralette style dress that spells out the words “You Will Never Own Me.” in bright sequins. Source: “Bitch Stole My Look” reads the headline under the photos of the two singers. Of course, this is one of the main slogans from Joan Rivers' Fashion Police, which aired on the E network, but I still found the headline particularly dense. The article failed to mention the obvious context behind the outfit, both of these women were survivors of abuse and the public discourse surrounding their experiences. I laughed at the irony, who knows how long the same publication and the tabloid industry had been covering, and therefore profiting off, these women's trauma. But when it came to wearing the same dress, the article seemed to forget all about these women's histories and instead wanted, like it often does, to create competition between women. The subtitle reads, “Yikes! Check out this pop star fashion face off” and contains a poll to vote which pop star wore the dress better. Missing the point by such a margin the comedy feels almost intentional. Unfortunately, it's not. For years, I had seen dozens of cover stories about Rihanna's domestic abuse and massive media coverage of Kesha's court case against her former producer Dr. Luke. Despite the seemingly infinite amount of coverage, the article missed the parallel between these women's stories and the context for this piece of fashion. This dress wasn’t just another dazzling piece, it was a statement. Before I stumbled across the tabloid article I was familiar with the dress. I had made the same photo of Kesha featured in the article as my Facebook cover photo. For those unfamiliar with the social media culture of 2015, a Facebook cover photo appeared on one's profile page above one's profile picture. Most people uploaded something scenic or something to express their personality in this photo slot. My choice to publicly display this particular photo of Kesha wearing the dress, was intentional as an extension of my online footprint. She faces the camera with a confident expression, the dress's slogan on full display. At the time I was active in my city's comedy scene, and having just outed a fellow comedian for sexually assaulting me, I felt a kinship with the pop star, as I was now having to face my own version of the court of public opinion. 2015 was a diffrent time for rape culture. Just too years before the #MeToo movement of 2017, I was navigating a completely different playing field when it came to sexual violence within my small but incredibly liberal community of Portland Oregon. Once publicly calling out my abuser, I was faced with more scrutiny and disbelief than support, and to further complicate the issue, the man who assaulted me was my ex-boyfriend and a beloved comedian within the scene. In many ways I felt that my pain was ignored, simply because I wasn’t seen as valuable (funny) as him in my community. One evening I was hanging out at a show with a small group of comedians I had known and worked with for years. Abruptly interrupting my night, my ex came in on a date with a girl. My turned stomach was in knots, both at having to share a space with him, and with knowing he could continue to hurt other women who didn’t know him. Me and the small group of comedians I thought were my friends, Greg, Blake and Mikey surveyed the couple as they walked into the bar. “That's my friend,” Greg, one of the guys in the group said, referring to the tall, lengthy brunette my ex was now sitting at the bar with. “If she's your friend you should warn her about him,” I replied. “Oh she will be fine,” Greg said nonchalantly. “Dude,” I said looking at Greg. Greg and I had recently had a brief romance, up until now I thought he was a guy that I could trust and who understood me. How he could let a woman he considered his friend date someone he knew to be violent was frustrating. Knowing he didn’t take me seriously, despite the time we had spent together was heartbreaking. I was getting frustrated. Exacerbated, I started to ramble. “You know what that guy did to me.” Without warning, Mikey screamed at me. “I am so fucking tired of hearing about your rape.” Like I said, people didn’t know how to deal with it before 2017. #MeToo’s impact literally changed the world. My ex, and by extension part of my community who supported him, chose to villainize me. For years I heard comments about how I was ruining a promising career, or destroying someone's reputation who didn’t deserve it, or how, it should be me who no longer entered comedy spaces if I was so concerned about not being in the same room as my ex. I know I am not the only woman to have experienced the same scrutiny within their own communities. I know I am not the only woman to have experienced this scrutiny within the Portland comedy scene. I know many talented funny women who have quit doing stand-up simply because it's not worth it. It's not worth it to be victimized by a community that would rather uplift rapists than believe women. And it's certainly not worth it to be picked apart and villainized after surviving trauma. I, on the other hand, am stubborn. Stupidly so. In 2015, despite everything, no one was going to tell me what my truth was. And so I continued to show up. I refused to be silenced and I refused to let a man take anything more away from me. I worked on my jokes, and produced shows and built a community of comedians that I loved and could trust. And to let everyone know I wasn’t going to go away. I made the photo of Kesha in the You Will Never Own Me dress my cover photo, as an extension of that sentiment. Wearing the dress, made by the brand Di$count Univer$e, was a dream of mine. I couldn’t afford it, but seeing Kesha wearing it, in spite of her ongoing court battle, gave me some hope in one of the darkest times in my life. I daydreamed of wearing it at a big show and having the best set of my life. In 2020, five years after I first made the photo of Kesha my cover photo, I found myself needing the dress now, despite thinking I had finally moved on. But healing is never over instead, it moves and shuffles and the wound feels different over time. Sometimes it’s buried and then reemerges, scars splitting back. A smell or a song can still turn me into a mess. And so I found it online and put all $399 of it on my credit card. Buying the dress, years later, felt like a special band-aid made for a wound that never really heals. When I put on the dress I thought of it differently. Looking at myself in the mirror, I realized how dramatic of a piece it truly was. The curve-hugging fit and sequins brought attention to my body that for so long, and as a result of the abuse, I tried to hide. The dress had an unwritten statement I hadn’t realized until I put it on. I own me. And I’m choosing to tell the world, I’m not going anywhere. Author: Elizabeth Teets
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