In­quir­ing Minds by Dr. Sherry Ross

Athleisure - - Table Of Contents - IG @DrSher­ryR + @She-Ol­ogy PHOTO CRED­ITS | Brooke Larke via Un­splash

OB/GYN shares some of the com­mon ques­tions that she is asked by her pa­tients with the read­ers of Ath­leisure Mag.

Last month we in­tro­duced our read­ers to Santa Mon­ica based and Celebrity OB/GYN, Dr. Sherry Ross. Like a girl­friend that we have known for years, she talked with us about how she got into her prac­tice and the depth of her ca­reer, the dif­fi­culty that women have in talk­ing about their vagina, the im­por­tance of know­ing how to take care of this area - es­pe­cially as it per­tains to an ath­leisure life­style, her part­ner­ship with Sum­mer's Eve, what she is up to this sum­mer and more.

Dr. Ross shared so much in­for­ma­tion with us, we thought that we would spread out more of her knowl­edge in ad­di­tional is­sues. If you missed last month, you can read it here and in this month's is­sue we are fo­cus­ing on some of the com­mon ques­tions that she is asked by her pa­tients and of course, she shares an­swers.

• What are some of the changes that oc­cur with our vagina through­out the years.

The ef­fect of ag­ing on our body, in­clud­ing our vagina, is in­evitable. Your vagina is as young and beau­ti­ful as you think it is in its ap­pear­ance. Your per­sonal at­ti­tude and vagi­nal con­fi­dence is the most im­por­tant fac­tor in how oth­ers per­ceive an ag­ing vagina.

Just like any other part of your body with skin, glands and hair fol­li­cles, the ap­pear­ance of the vagina is af­fected by the ag­ing process and how well you care of it.

There are known of­fend­ers, such as child­birth and menopause, which leave bat­tle scars that can be per­ma­nent, but there are things you can do to avoid need­ing a vagi­nal “face-lift’ also known as vagi­nal re­ju­ve­na­tion, in the fu­ture.

Hor­monal changes over the decades also in­flu­ence the in­tegrity and elas­tic­ity of the vagina. First let’s be clear

what we are talk­ing about re­gard­ing the vagina. The “vagina” ac­tu­ally in­cludes the lips, vulva or labia-mi­nora and ma­jora, the open­ing to the vagina and the cli­toris.

Start­ing with pu­berty, the pow­er­ful ef­fects of es­tro­gen and pro­ges­terone, cause changes of the vagina in­clud­ing pu­bic hair, en­larg­ing and more prom­i­nent labia or lips and more no­tice­able white vagi­nal dis­charge. As you age and lose your sub­cu­ta­neous fat in your body, the fat in the vagina also de­creases mak­ing the lips looks thin­ner.

Child­birth prob­a­bly has the most dra­matic ef­fect on the vagina, es­pe­cially if you have a vagi­nal de­liv­ery. A re­cent statis­tic showed that “30% of women who have a vagi­nal birth will have some form of trauma to the tis­sue and mus­cles in the vagina and pelvic floor. The vagina and all its elas­tic glory can only stretch so much dur­ing child­birth. With each vagi­nal de­liv­ery there is a lit­tle more stretch­ing which has an ac­cu­mu­la­tive ef­fect that ul­ti­mately changes the out­ward ap­pear­ance of the vagina. The pelvic floor mus­cles that stretch, dis­tend and tear in the vagina to al­low the baby’s head to come through this tight space will never be quite the same over time. The more vagi­nal de­liv­er­ies you have, the more the vagina stretches, es­pe­cially in the vagi­nal open­ing. Women of­ten chose to have an elec­tive ce­saean sec­tion to avoid any trauma caused to the

vagina from a vagi­nal birth.

There is a def­i­nite cor­re­la­tion be­tween hav­ing a lot of vagi­nal de­liv­er­ies and big ba­bies that per­ma­nently stretch the out­ward ap­pear­ance of the vagina.

With menopause and the loss of es­tro­gen nour­ish­ing and hy­drat­ing the vagina, the tis­sue be­comes dry, pale and de­hy­drated. The labia of the vagina can be­come fused and the vagina and cli­toris shrink. The labia be­comes less full, los­ing its fatty pads and the skin loses its col­la­gen. The end re­sult is lighter or darker ap­pear­ing labia that sag. The med­i­cal term for this is vulva-vagi­nal at­ro­phy.

• What are some of the rea­sons my vagina itches if I don’t have a yeast in­fec­tion?

The itchy vagina can be chal­leng­ing to fig­ure out but is a com­mon phe­nom­e­non. Once your health care provider has ruled out a yeast or bac­te­rial in­fec­tion it’s time to look other en­vi­ron­men­tal causes in­clud­ing heav­ily fra­granced body and laun­dry soaps, san­i­tary pads, san­i­tary wipes/pads, warm­ing gels and scented lubri­cants, ny­lon un­der­wear, di­aphragms, con­doms, saliva, se­men and stress which are of­ten the of­fend­ing sources of the vagi­nal itch.

• What are rea­sons why my vagina smells funny?

The nor­mal vagina tends to smell like “a vagina” which all of us women know what that means. When there is an un­usual odor some­thing is just not right down there. A clas­si­cally smelling fishy vagina tends to be a bac­te­rial in­fec­tion such as Gard­nerella. Other causes for a strange or of­fen­sive odor in­clude a sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­ease such as Ch­lamy­dia, Tri­chomonas’s, Syphilis and Gon­or­rhea. Your diet, in­clud­ing gar­lic, onions, Brus­sels sprouts and red meat, can also cre­ate a dif­fer­ent odor in the vagina. Smok­ing, al­co­hol and caf­feine also af­fect the vagina’s smell and taste.

• What ex­actly is the im­por­tance of pu­bic hair?

The best kept se­cret about a women’s body is why we ac­tu­ally have pu­bic hair. No one re­ally knows the an­swer to this ques­tion. The sus­pected the­o­ries, some med­i­cal and some not, in­clude pu­bic hair pre­vents dirt and other float­ing germs to en­ter the vagina, it keeps our gen­i­tals warm, and it’s the per­fect cush­ion dur­ing sex, bi­cy­cling and other forms of ex­er­cise that put pres­sure on our vagina.

Pu­bic hair is also thought to cre­ate ‘pheromones’ which are in­vis­i­ble sex­ual smells that are sex­u­ally en­tic­ing and erotic to your part­ner. We know pu­bic hair can be a dec­o­ra­tive ac­ces­sory un­der the sheets dur­ing Valen­tine’s Day or for dif­fer­ent cul­tural pref­er­ences.

• What im­pact is the porn in­dus­try hav­ing on women and men when it comes to vagi­nas?

The truth is a lot of women don’t like their vagi­nas. 1 in 7 women have con­sid­ered get­ting ”labi­aplasty” which ba­si­cally is trim­ming and tuck­ing the lips of the vagina and tight­en­ing up the en­trance. Many women ad­mit that 1 in 5 com­pare them­selves to those vagi­nas seen in porn. With porn on the rise, vagi­nas are ev­ery­where. And yet, no one seems to want to ad­mit how this new preva­lence, and its re­sult­ing mis­con­cep­tions about sex and the vagina is - or isn't - chang­ing our ro­man­tic and sex­ual re­la­tion­ships and our re­la­tion­ships to our bod­ies and our­selves.

There’s no denying it. Porn is ev­ery­where. Porn sites get more vis­i­tors each month then Net­flix, Ama­zon, and Twit­ter com­bined. A re­cent statis­tic found that 70% of chil­dren ages 8 to 18 re­port hav­ing un­in­ten­tion­ally stum­bled across pornog­ra­phy on­line. The av­er­age age for a child to be ex­posed to pornog­ra­phy is now 11 years old. This means that our chil­dren are of­ten “learn­ing” about “nor­mal” sex­ual be­hav­ior and phys­i­cal ap­pear­ance from the likes of Jenna Jame­son and John Holmes. Many women (and men) now ex­pect, even want,

all vagi­nas to look like Jenna’s does. Girls and guys alike visit porn and other sex­u­ally graphic web sites, and not just for plea­sure, but also to see what the per­fect vagina and the ideal pe­nis look like.

We as a so­ci­ety have to fight the porn epi­demic and not al­low our young women and men to think this is how they should be learn­ing about sex and sex­ual re­la­tion­ships through porn. Aware­ness and ed­u­ca­tion is vi­tal!

• What are ways to keep my vagina young?

Your vagina is as young as you think it is. With that said, a young vagina is a healthy and con­fi­dent vagina. Keep­ing the vagina clean and en­joy­ing sex­ual plea­sures keeps the vagina young re­gard­less of age.

• Why do you think such lit­tle at­ten­tion has been paid to women's sex­ual con­cerns com­pared with men's?

Un­for­tu­nately, there has been a his­tory of “gen­der in­jus­tice” in the bed­room. Women have long been ig­nored when it comes to find­ing so­lu­tions to sex­ual dys­func­tion. If there were a score­board it would read 26 and O for men! In short, there are twenty-six ap­proved med­i­ca­tions for male erec­tile dys­func­tion and zero for women. Clearly, lit­tle at­ten­tion has been paid to the sex­ual con­cerns of women, other than those con­cerns that in­volve pro­cre­ation. Why is this the case? Why are women marginal­ized in ev­ery as­pect of life? Sadly, this is a truth even in the med­i­cal space. Women are not get­ting the at­ten­tion and re­spect they de­serve.

Women sim­ply want the same at­ten­tion in sex­ual health and re­spon­sive­ness from the med­i­cal com­mu­nity as men have had. With that in mind, the FDA is fi­nally show­ing sup­port for the chal­lenges faced in fe­male sex­ual health. Whether you choose a med­i­cal al­ter­na­tive, a lit­tle self-love in the af­ter­noon, or a ro­man­tic week­end with­out elec­tron­ics or dis­trac­tions, the choice should be yours.

• What are the main sex­ual prob­lems/is­sues af­fect­ing women in their 20s and 30s?

Our sex­u­al­ity is as part of our lives as is eat­ing and sleep­ing. Sex­u­al­ity is an im­por­tant as­pect of our well­be­ing, and in a healthy ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ship it’s as im­por­tant as love and af­fec­tion. En­joy­able sex is learned. Sure, there’s in­stinct and maybe a dust­ing of magic in­volved, but you don’t mag­i­cally have an or­gasm with­out hav­ing an ac­tive role in mak­ing it hap­pen. You and your part­ner have to ac­knowl­edge each other’s likes and dis­likes, and learn how to sat­isfy each other. Open and hon­est con­ver­sa­tions are nec­es­sary to make the sex­ual ex­pe­ri­ence op­ti­mal for both of you, whether you have mul­ti­ple part­ners or self-es­teem to spare. For women, the sex­ual ex­pe­ri­ence can be bro­ken down into four parts: de­sire, arousal, vagi­nal lu­bri­ca­tion, and or­gasm. I know you’ve heard it be­fore, but it can’t be over­stated; your largest and most im­por­tant sex or­gan is your mind. It’s what makes all the parts come to­gether in what can (and should) be a sub­limely sat­is­fy­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

In­ti­macy, sex and or­gasm of­ten all be­gin with de­sire. If you don’t have any de­sire you will not be able to have an or­gasm-plain and sim­ple, mis­sion will not be ac­com­plished. Un­der­stand­ing the cause of the sex­ual dys­func­tion is the most im­por­tant step in op­ti­miz­ing a treat­ment

Just like any other part of your body with skin, glands and hair fol­li­cles, the ap­pear­ance of the vagina is af­fected by the ag­ing process and how well you care of it.

plan. Re­la­tion­ship coun­sel­ing, stress re­duc­tion, sex ther­apy or a week­end away with your part­ner with­out the kids may be all that’s needed to get you back on track.

Hy­poac­tive sex­ual dis­or­der, the most com­mon fe­male sex­ual dys­func­tion, is char­ac­ter­ized by a com­plete ab­sence of sex­ual de­sire. For the six­teen mil­lion women who suf­fer from this dis­or­der, the fac­tors in­volved may vary since sex­ual de­sire in women is much more com­pli­cated than it is for men. Un­like men, women’s sex­ual de­sire, ex­cite­ment and en­ergy tend to be­gin in that great or­gan above the shoul­ders, rather than the one be­low the waist. The daily stresses of work, money, chil­dren, re­la­tion­ships and di­min­ished en­ergy are com­mon is­sues con­tribut­ing to low li­bido in women. Other causes may be de­pres­sion, anx­i­ety, lack of pri­vacy, med­i­ca­tion side ef­fects, med­i­cal con­di­tions such as en­dometrio­sis or arthri­tis, menopausal symp­toms such as a dry vagina, or a his­tory of phys­i­cal or sex­ual abuse. It’s not a myth af­ter all that women are more com­pli­cated than men.

Learn­ing how to have an or­gasm is not a rite of pas­sage. Or­gasms are learned and you can­not ex­pect any one to show you how to have one un­til you know your own sex­ual body me­chan­ics.

In fact, 10-20% of women (of all ages) have never had an or­gasm. Women typ­i­cally have sex­ual and emo­tional is­sues that get in the way of in­ti­macy which in­ter­rupt the four parts of a sex­ual ex­pe­ri­ence for women.

For some women, find­ing and en­joy­ing sex­ual in­ti­macy and sex is dif­fi­cult. 43% of women re­port some de­gree of dif­fi­culty and 12% at­tribute their sex­ual dif­fi­cul­ties to per­sonal dis­tress.

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