This guest post was written for Vibrant Souls by Christina Bertelli, Certified Clinical Herbalist and Founder of Femme Botanica.
As women, our sensitive bodies are sounding an alarm and calling for a change. With so many of us experiencing vaginal infections that don’t seem to go away with standard treatment, it's time to make a shift in the way we relate to, and treat, our beautiful yonis. Doing so is critical as we seek to tap into our vast feminine power.
Chronic, painful infections in and around your vagina can negatively impact your reproductive health and fertility. This threatens your whole body vitality, which in turn threatens your sense of happiness and your connection to the sacred feminine.
Fortunately, we are being invited to shift our perspectives on womb and vaginal health, and we’re becoming aware of the imbalances in our yonis and how to treat them. Given that these chronic issues are often not successfully normalized using current ineffective treatments, many women today are turning to ancient traditional wisdom. As women, we are ready to take matters of our yoni health in to our own hands and re-balance our lives by re-balancing our vaginal ecology.
Healthy Vaginal Ecology Is Vital
The key to re-balancing your yoni health lies in understanding your vaginal ecology so you can keep it healthy. Healthy vaginal ecology means there is a sufficient amount and a diverse assembly of good bacteria that outnumbers the problematic, potentially pathogenic bacteria. When your vaginal ecology is balanced, your whole body is healthier.
Yet microbial balance in the vagina is commonly thrown off by an invasion of harmful pathogenic bacteria and yeast. Causes are varied and include, but are not limited to, the widespread overuse of antibiotics that creates ever stronger antibiotic resistant strains, synthetic fabrics and chemicals, and over-consumption of processed sugars.
Results from a Diflucan pharmaceutical survey show that 85% of teenage and adult females suffer with a bout of vaginitis (the catchall phrase for pain and inflammation of the vulva and vagina) at least once in their life. Many will contend with these issues for years to follow. Bacterial vaginosis (BV), which is the most common form of vaginitis, is when a certain kind of problematic bacteria proliferate in the mucus membranes of the vagina and vulva, often causing pain, itching and inflammation. However, a large portion of women who have BV are asymptomatic and unaware of the problem.
Yet, regardless of the symptoms, it is critical that we address these challenges given the vital strength, optimism and creative energy available to us when we release our bodies from the low-grade or vigorous infection that is tapping out our immune systems. Imagine what power and grace could come with the additional energy and focus you gain from a healthy yoni. This is the power you use to tackle and enjoy the rest of life’s great challenges and pleasures!
Get Into Balance!
Research on what is needed for healthy vaginal membranes has been going on for almost 100 years! A report from the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology noted: when L. acidophilus was introduced into the vagina, pathogenic bacteria such as staphylococcus, streptococcus, and diplococcus were replaced by these beneficial bacteria. The pH of the vaginal area shifted from an alkaline level to a more acidic level. The symptoms of vaginitis were promptly relieved and did not reoccur.
Abundant populations of friendly flora like L. acidophilus are not just nice health supplements, they are essential to your feminine well being and a yoni-happy lifestyle.
Yoni-Happy Lifestyle Tips
With plentiful problems lurking in the current mainstream way of life, as a woman you may have to make some important lifestyle choices that encourage and improve yoni health. Here are a couple simple tips for setting the stage to make the shift:
Do a yoni steam at least once per month. Yoni steaming bathes the tissues in protective and microbe defending aromatic oils from plants that will help support your overall yoni health.
Reconsider the products and fabrics you use that touch your vulva and vaginal membranes because often synthetic fabrics and harsh chemicals in soaps and detergents can cause irritation. Do you need them at all? Could you switch to natural versions with simpler, safer ingredients?
Peace In The Pelvis
Urinary tract infections and sexually transmitted infections are known to increase when vaginal ecology is out of balance. I have often heard from women that they had recurring BV or yeast infections and then contracted an STI, sometimes without even changing partners.
To maintain healthy cervical cells (those that your OB GYN analyzes when you get a pap), having a strong team of beneficial bacteria works to boost immunity and keep pathogenic invaders at bay. It is the job of L. acidophilus and other resident collaborators to protect the precious pelvic organs upstream of the vaginal canal from problems such as HPV.
Like the acidity in the stomach, the acidic environment of the vagina (which is created by the presence of L. acidophilus) acts like the bouncers at a club - making it tough for the wayward, uninvited types of microbes to enter. When this dynamic is functioning well, the bad microbes do not journey upward to ruin the party.
The result is peace in the pelvis.
Pelvic Health Tips
Get cultured with a probiotic-rich diet. Fermentation is a fun and affordable way to transform your whole body ecology. Countless traditions of centaurians can’t be wrong! Also try replacing sugars and simple carbs with prebiotic starches (burdock root, sunchokes, leeks, garlic, asparagus) to encourage the new friendly microbes to stick around and flourish!
Use castor oil packs. Topical warm castor oil over the lower abdomen have been shown to stimulate lymphatic activity and activate the immune system, helping the body to resist sickness. According to Christiane Northrup, M.D., “Castor oil packs applied to your lower abdomen two or three times a week can work wonders in preventing UTI’s because they appear to improve immune system functioning…. and decrease stress and adrenaline levels. "
Pleasure In Your Life
The blossoming of feminine power begins with the individual, and the willingness of each individual to open to her power demands a healthy foundation, i.e. a vital body and spiritual strength. If power is about one’s potential for self love, stamina, ability to exercise leadership and take a stand for what one believes in, a woman in her power wants to draw on all those capacities! She wants access to the full spectrum of her energy to develop this potential. Immune compromise and consistent pain between her legs surely holds her back. Immune health and the replacement of the pain between her legs with pleasure unleashes her power flow!
How can you add more joy and creativity to your day? Life often gets over-run with business. For women, it is typically a long list of work and errands. Stress blunts immune power. Outsmart it by infusing joy and fun into your life.
Have more orgasms! Ladies, have you heard about the awesome benefits of orgasms on your overall health and longevity? Orgasms have been shown to greatly optimize immune function, improve sleep, and alleviate depression!
The Wild Power Within
The time has come for the medical and cultural perspective on yoni wellness to be revisited.
The word ‘yoni,’ which is a Sanskrit term for the area from your vulva to your womb, also refers to the tremendous generative potential, pleasure and sacred energy it carries within you. This area where you create and birth life holds cellular magic and inexplicable feminine mystery. A lot of your power as a woman lies in this part of your body, whether you are birthing babies or not.
Claiming this word has helped many women give rise to the respect they want to cultivate for the sacred feminine.
Imagine what it would be like if you connected more frequently to the bliss and wild creative power of your yoni and less to the cyclical or chronic pain that sometimes occurs in that area.
Let’s consciously create this essential health and strength at the root of our beings, in our yonis!
Sierra Brashear, MA is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner, DONA-trained doula, herbal alchemist, wellness educator and founder of Vibrant Souls yoni steams. Inspired by the rhythms and elements of nature, Sierra weaves her knowledge of Ayurveda into the products and lifestyle design programs she offers. She invites you to join her 16-week program, The Art of Fertility | Journey to Conception — to clear toxins and nourish your mind and body in preparation for an easeful conception and healthy pregnancy. Sierra is also co-founder of Cultivate Balance and Moon Bath, and lives in Boulder, Colorado.