Honest Conversations: Talking about Vaginal Dryness with Vagisil

 

Real talk: your body starts to go through some interesting changes in your 30’s. I’ve gained weight, lost weight, dealt with adult acne, finally cured said acne—the list goes on. The latest phenomenon to add to my ever-growing list of body changes: hormonal night sweats. I wake up drenched at least 4-5 nights per month. It’s disconcerting, it’s uncomfortable and, apparently, totally normal for someone my age. Has anyone else experienced these?

Another thing I’ve heard a lot about but haven’t experienced yet is vaginal dryness. I’ve written a lot about the benefits of lube in the bedroom, but what if you just feel dry on a day to day basis?

I firmly believe that in order to feel good in our bodies, we need to be able to have open, honest conversations about them—even about the stuff that may seem less than sexy. So, today I’ve teamed up with Vagisil to get the conversation started.

Although vaginal dryness doesn’t currently affect me at this point in my life, I do have some women in my life who have experienced issues with dryness following pregnancy and other hormonal changes.  Here’s what we need to remember: experiencing vaginal dryness is also completely normal and nothing to be ashamed of.

I used to think that vaginal dryness was just a menopause issue, but actually, women of all ages can experience it at some time in their life. There are a bunch of potential causes of vaginal dryness, including:

  • Stress
  • Pregnancy
  • Certain medications (like antihistamines and birth control pills)
  • Periods
  • Menopause/Peri-menopause
  • Hormones
  • Postnatal hormone shifts
  • IVF treatments

More real talk: I have a long-standing relationship with Vagisil products. Years ago, when I first moved to Toronto as a somewhat wide-eyed 18-year-old and was living on my own for the first time, I experienced my first yeast infection. I remember calling my mom because I had no idea what was happening to my body (I think my exact words were, “Mom, I’m pretty sure I’m dying”). One of the first things she suggested was that I go pick up a tube of Vagisil® Extra Strength Anti-Itch crème. FYI: I wasn’t dying and the cream definitely provided some relief.

Vagisil 2

Vagisil recently launched ProHydrate Natural Feel Moisturizing Gel, a product designed to target vaginal dryness. With no added estrogen, perfumes, dyes or preservatives, it’s designed to give women a feeling of natural moisture, wherever and whenever, with a discreet and easy to use applicator.

So, what exactly is ProHydrate Natural Feel Moisturizing Gel? Good question. Basically, it’s a product designed to relieve dryness anytime and make sex more comfortable. Fast acting and long lasting, it has a unique bio-adherent formula that coats the vaginal wall to provide dryness relief instantly, then slowly releases moisture over time. It does this through a unique blend of moisturizers, including Hyaluronic Acids (HA’s), a naturally occurring hydrator found in skin, so it feels like your own natural moisture.

As we age, the percentage of Hyaluronic Acid in our skin decreases which can lead to dryness and fragility. Hyaluronic Acid is so effective that a tiny amount holds up to 1000 times its weight in water and it naturally attracts and retains moisture.

To provide continuous comfort you can use Vagisil® ProHydrate Natural Feel every three days.

“Sounds great, but how do I get the product where it needs to be?”

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Anyone who’s used any kind of intimate lubricant knows that things can get, uh, messy fast. One of the things I think is really cool about the ProHydrate Natural Feel Moisturizing Gel is that it comes with single-use pre-filled applicator inserts (wrapped in tampon-like packaging) that effortlessly target the source of dryness. They’re easy to use and totally discreet.

I was also sent a few other products to check out:

Vagisil® pH Balanced wash.

Did you know that your period, tight clothes, sex, even body washes and soap can disrupt your pH balance? This gentle cleanser contains LactoPrebiotic to help support a healthy pH balance. If you’re like me and find a lot of body washes really irritating, this might be a good option for you.

Vagisil® Extra Strength Anti-Itch crème.

Ah yes, an old standby. Although I’ve been lucky and haven’t needed to use this product lately, it’s always a good one to keep handy just in case. Because, well, life with a vagina can be unpredictable.

So, while I don’t necessarily need to use all of these products currently, it’s really nice to know I have options from a brand I trust, if/when I need them in the future.

This post was sponsored by Vagisil. All opinions are my own, because that’s how I roll.


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Why I Stopped Drinking & Started Buying Art Instead

I have a complicated relationship with alcohol. While I really enjoy a good craft cocktail or glass of wine every now and then, there’s been times when alcohol wreaked havoc on my life – namely my early 20’s when I used booze to self-medicate; drinking myself into oblivion on a regular basis. It wasn’t that I couldn’t stop drinking – I didn’t want to. I liked the feeling of being out of control. However, after a lot of soul searching, growth and (let’s be real) therapy, I’m much better at setting healthy boundaries.

Although I can have one or two drinks and stop – the urge to just keep drinking is still there (& probably always will be) and it’s unnerving. Last year I slipped back into my old habits for a month and frankly, it scared me. So, combine that with the fact that booze makes me feel terrible in the morning (hangovers when you’re 30+ are no joke); it’s just easier to avoid drinking.

Lately I’m like the opposite of a Drake song: I’ve been working hard, wearing more clothes and going out less. 

The upside of not going for drinks and/or buying wine on a regular basis is that it’s freed up some money to put towards other pursuits – like building up a small art collection. I’m not yet at the place yet where I can buy a lot of original art works (unless they’re made by family members) but I have been investing in prints of pieces I really love.

My taste is art is pretty eclectic, but I’ve noticed that I tend to be drawn to pieces that are bright, modern, pop-art influenced and/or California-esque. I love images of influential women, men, palm trees and pools. Always lots of pools (I blame my grandparents.) Anything quirky and colourful is also fair game.

Here’s some of the artists I’m really into lately.

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M. Tony Peralta of The Peralta Project  is a New York born artist that “mixes New York City Latino grit with hip-hop culture to create designs that resonate with people from all walks of life.” The result is art that’s bright, pop-y and irreverant. I just purchased this Frida Con Rolos print and am eyeing up his take on another icon: Selena. He also makes pins & a host of other clothing + accessories!

ki arens prints

Kii Arens is an American contemporary graphic designer, pop-artist best known for his concert prints. He’s created visuals for everyone from Diana Ross to Radiohead. I discovered his work on Instagram and fell in love with his Sade & Lauryn Hill prints (two of my all time favourites.) I visited his LA LA LAND gallery when I was in LA and was able to pick up both for my collection.

Scott listfield prints

Scott Listfield is another artist I love. I discovered his astronaut paintings on Pinterest and have been obsessed ever since. His work is full of pop culture references that beautifully illustrate the feeling of being alive in this time and place – connected yet disconnected. Also, I discovered that he has a painting named Simone (!!!) and used to carry around a small plastic dinosaur (a la Joe the Intern) whenever he’d travel – so, basically I have a major artist-soul-crush on him. I recently added the pieces above to my collection.

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I also really enjoy the work of LA-based illustrator Chris Turnham. His work focuses on everyday scenes around Los Angeles that aren’t typically illustrated – like the 6th street viaduct. All of his illustrations have an authentic dusty, smoggy quality. I have his Two Palms (above) but I’m dying to get my hands on his Yuca’s Taco stand print. As someone who recently spent 12 days in LA eating almost nothing but tacos, it feels very…essential. 

Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 1.04.25 PMMy current big ticket dream purchase? This oversized print by photographer Max Wanger, appropriately titled “The Dip.” Someday it will be mine. Oh yes, someday it will be mine.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to shift my focus to making some art myself. Ever since I saw Judy Ragagli’s work in Palm Springs, I’ve been toying with the idea of turning some of Joe the Intern’s photographs into full sized art pieces.  So, I was happy when the team at BestCanvas.ca got in touch with me. BestCanvas.ca takes your favourite photos and turns them into canvas prints. Whether it’s photos of your wedding, vacation, pets or (in my case) a very muscly GI Joe, BestCanvas.ca transforms your favourite memories into ready to hang art for your home.

When I told Joe about my plans to immortalize his image on canvas, he responded with his own set of demands. (“My one request is that you prominently display my image in a place of leisure – preferably over the bed.”) Joe and I don’t always agree about everything.

While I won’t be hanging Joe’s anywhere in my bedroom (I’m really trying not to alienate future suitors), I do think there’s potential to make some great wall art.

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(photo credit)

What do you guys think?!

This post was brought to you by BestCanvas.ca. All views are my own because that’s how I roll. Thanks for supporting posts that support Skinny Dip. 

From Pyjamas to Gladiator: On Willpower & Learning to Kick Ass

If you’ve ever struggled to break a bad habit, this post is for you.

2013 will always be remembered as the year that I staged my very own “pajama-vention” – otherwise known as “that time I realized I was getting gross and decided to do something about it, and learned to kick-ass in the process.”

In December and January I participated in the Stratejoy Holiday Council. I learned how to let go of 50 things, made vision boards and set goals – some which I’ve already accomplished (!) I enjoyed the experience so much that when it came to sign up for the Stratejoy Willpower Council a few months later, I jumped at the chance. With my schedule now busier than ever, I knew I’d need to tap into my willpower to really “get shit done.”

One of our first tasks was to choose a bad habit that we’d like to change, or a good habit that we’d like to create. I knew right away what mine would be:

THE PYJAMAS.

As I’ve mentioned before, being a freelance writer and/or working from home does come with it’s shares of perks: a flexible schedule and dress code with a commute that never is longer than the distance between your bed and your laptop. The downside is that when you’re not even required to wear pants on a daily basis, things have the tendency to get gross pretty fast.

After almost a decade of working in a corporate office environment, when I started freelancing I embraced the novelty of being able to work in my pyjamas. However, what began as a fun and comfortable way to give the middle finger to my former office attire, soon evolved to the point where I was wearing my pyjamas all day, everyday. Unless I was leaving the house, I wouldn’t even bother showering or putting on clothes until late afternoon. As someone who is naturally prone to anxiety, my pyjamas weren’t just a wardrobe choice, they were like a security blanket – one that covered my whole body.

I jokingly nicknamed my well loved leopard print pyjamas my “freelancer’s business suit” and when I wore out my first pair, my Mom and sister lovingly purchased me new ones for Christmas complete with matching booties. You can file the photo below under “reasons I might be single.”

 I hadn’t realized how bad the situation had become until my Mom and sister sat me down and told me I needed to start wearing real clothes around the house again. I agreed, but then told them I thought they were enablers.

“If you want me to stop wearing pyjamas, why do you keep buying me such awesome ones?! I mean, the matching booties: genius.”

My sister looked me in the eye and said, “Put on some real clothes Simone or I’ll burn those pyjamas in your sleep.”

The irony is, when I envisioned what my life would look like as a freelancer I didn’t imagine myself wearing flannel all day. Instead, I imagined myself wearing cute, casual basics as I wrote and worked on projects in my fun, colourful office. In other words, I wanted my day to day life to look more like my Internet Idol & Girl Entrepreneur Crush Jen Ramos (top left & bottom left.)

I could totally be the kind of person who spent the day working in funky striped dresses or a pair of leather leggings & a fun top. I already owned these kinds of clothes, so what was stopping me?! However, instead I settled for some approximation of this:

I knew I had hit rock bottom when I caught myself doing a phone interview with the head of marketing of a major Canadian bank wearing only a pink nightie, with a brown blanket wrapped around me.

That’s the thing I have learned about bad habits: they’re self sabotaging. We want one thing but we do another. I picked out clothes that embodied the vision I wanted for life, but stashed them away in the closet and instead, did exactly the opposite because it seemed easier somehow.

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How to Fall Back in Love With Yourself

One of the things I’m often asked as a sex and relationship blogger is “what advice would you give to single people?” I was actually asked this during the live relationship and sex chat I did for Sun Media a few weeks ago (which you can view here!) and I gave the answer I always give: take this time to work on yourself. Stop worrying about being single and instead work on building a happy life for yourself. Do this and you’ll attract the right kind of equally happy people into your life. Besides, relationships are great and all, but they do take up time. Use the time you have now to do all that “you stuff” that you’ve always wanted to do: like starting that daunting project or business, taking that dance class and getting your emotional baggage sorted out so that you can enjoy your life as is. In other words, take this time to fall in love with yourself before you fall in love with someone else.

It’s been approximately 1 year and 4 months since the big break-up, and almost a year exactly since I let go of a rebound situation that wasn’t working out. Recent dating adventures aside, I’ve spent most of the past year alone, working on myself. When I look at how I felt a year ago versus how I feel now, it’s mind boggling how much has changed. I have the feeling when I look back at this era of my life, I’ll remember 2012-2013 as the year I fell back in love with being me.

Everyone is different, however here are a few things that helped me feel happier over the past year. If you’re also working through a transitional period they might help you too.

Being single is the perfect time to invest in yourself. And by “invest in yourself” I don’t mean “your closet.” Although there’s definitely a time and a place for a post break-up wardrobe spruce up, what I’m really talking about is investing some time and possibly some money in the not-quite-as-shiny-but-good-for-you stuff that really matters. Learning to spend on the right things for me meant prioritizing self care and my health (like forking out the money for chiropractic & dental appointments). However, the best investment I’ve made over the past year has been the time and money I spent on counselling. At the end of 2011 I was still really struggling with anxiety and was holding on to a lot of negative thoughts, guilt, sadness and just felt “stuck” – emotionally and career wise. Talking to someone about these feelings was one of the best things I have ever done. I’m still a work in progress, but therapy has helped me break the negative cycle of emotional hoarding that dominated my life for so long. I now feel lighter, happier and like I am better equipped to deal with challenges. Unfortunately, I feel like there’s still a stigma associated with seeing a therapist, which makes me sad because it’s helped me so much.

Taking care of all the emotional “stuff” freed up a lot of space for me to think about other things like my goals. One of my other favourite investments was participating in the Stratejoy  Holiday Council. The course helped me let go of negative stuff  from the past year and plan for an amazing 2013. The work I did with Stratejoy  helped me break down my goals for the year into manageable parts. I’m working on one or two main projects per month and I’m actually getting sh*t done. It feels amazing. If you’re looking to fall back in love with your life, I highly recommend checking out some of Molly’s courses. She’s awesome & kind of magical!

(With that said, I don’t think I would have got as much out of the Holiday Council if I hadn’t worked through all the emotional stuff  first via the counselling I did earlier in the year)

Therapy for the emotional stuff & Life Coaching for the practical stuff – this is the formula that worked for me, however it might not work for you. One of my best friends found peace of mind after going to a retreat in the Amazon jungle where she received healing from a shaman. The lesson here: do whatever works for you. Unlike other purchases I’ve made in the past, the time & money I’ve invested in my own personal growth has been worth every single penny. You can’t put a price on focus and peace of mind.

Feeling lost? Re-connect with something that you love. As I’ve mentioned before, music has always been a big part of my life. However, following the big breakup it actually hurt to listen to most of my music. When I was dealing with the aftermath of the breakup, I just didn’t want to feel a lot of the things my favourite songs made me feel. However, a few months ago I came to the conclusion that my iPod needed a serious overhaul. In December I bought Jessie Ware’s album “Devotion” (the first actual album I’ve purchased in years) and promptly fell in love with her music.

Since then I’ve been reading Soulbounce like a fiend & getting into new artists like Rudimental, Rhye, Lianne La Havas and Kendra Morris ….and it’s be AWESOME.

Learning something new makes you feel good about yourself. Looking to fall in back in love with your life? Push through the fear and learn that thing you’ve always wanted to know how to do. That thing for me was to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator – something I finally tackled two weeks ago. For my first project I made a vision board for 2013 – one of my Stratejoy Holiday Council assignments. I chose images that represented how I want my 2013 to look and feel. I’m really happy with the results!

2013-stratejoy-inspiration-board

It may not seem like much to other people, but learning how to use Adobe Illustrator has been on my to-do list forever. I’m a huge procrastinator and I can’t say whether I would have crossed it off my list had I not invested my time and resources into getting help with my goal planning. Since creating that vision board I’ve moved on to more complicated design projects like re-doing my CV and the marketing materials for Skinny Dip (which I can’t wait to show you guys – they’re pretty!)

I want 2013 to be a year full of healthy living, travel, mindfulness, creativity and sparkle – all things that will allow me to fall deeper in love with my life. So I decided my theme for the year would be “Shine.” One of my favourite quotes from my vision board is “do more of what makes you awesome” which to me is exactly what my theme is about: stripping away all of the BS & doing things that allow you to be the best version of yourself. Having a yearly theme has really helped me make better, more clearcut decisions. Lately, whenever I’m faced with a decision I’ll ask myself: “Will doing ______ help further my theme for the year?” If my gut tells me “no”, I walk away or make a different choice.

Lastly, one of the most important things I’ve learned over the past year is this: if you want to change your life you actually have to do the work. For example, being active and getting regular, sweaty exercise is part of who I am. Coming to this realization was easy, however putting it into action and doing the work – forcing myself to go to the gym, changing my eating habits etc – was the hard part. You can make all the vision boards you want but if you don’t actually do the work, nothing will happen.

Getting back into shape has been great however, I’ve realized there’s something else I also need to do: I need to dance. I spent from ages 5-21 dancing Ballet and I miss it terribly. I’ve wanted to get back into taking classes for a couple of years now but I keep putting it off, making excuses like, “I’ll do it once I’m in perfect physical shape again” or “I’ll sign up for classes when I’m making more money” As a freelancer my income fluctuates a lot, however I always seem to find the extra cash for things like shoes and wine….why not a dance class?! Even though business has been slow since January I’ve decided I’m going to finally sign up for that dance class. If not now, then when?!

One of the cool things I’ve learned so far is that once you start actually making things happen, it becomes like a domino effect – you do one thing, then another until you realize that maybe all of your goals aren’t as scary as you once thought they were. It’s a good feeling.

Re-connect. Learn. Shine. Activate. Do more of what makes you awesome.

Fall back in love with yourself.

What’s your theme for 2013? 

Happiness, Yoga and a Good Ass Kicking: All via your Laptop.

I don’t know about you guys but I find it so much more challenging to work-out in the wintertime, especially when you spend most of your winters in frozen Eastern Canada. When I was living in my old neighborhood in Toronto, I adored my local gym which was a 10 minute walk from my house. During the winter I’d brave the snow and walk there several times a week. I thought being in BC where the weather is warmer would mean more frequent gym visits however, I’ve actually been going to the gym less since I’ve been here. To get to my gym here I either have to walk for 30 minutes each way (a work-out on it’s own) or jump in a car. I’d really like to try some of the yoga classes my gym offers but when faced with having to travel there I often choose to just do exercises at home. It’s a conundrum that I’m sure a lot of us experience in the winter.

So, when Gaiam TV contacted me about trying out their new streaming video service I was excited because THIS IS A PRODUCT I COULD ACTUALLY USE RIGHT NOW.

Gaiam TV is the first streaming video subscription service designed to reach people interested in health, wellness,  yoga, fitness and personal development. With over 2,000 titles to choose from it’s basically like Netflix for your mind & body. With Gaiam TV you can access hours of online yoga, pilates and cardio classes plus all kinds of other world class health & wellness programming taught by well known instructors. In other words, it’s pretty rad.

I was worried that the selection might be limited (sort of like how Netflix is for Canadians) however, you can customize the programming to suit your fitness and wellness goals. Gaiam TV offers a “fitness studio” and “yoga studio” which each offer tons of different user friendly options to choose from. Viewers can customize workouts for weight loss, total body sculpting or increased energy and narrow down their options based on level, style, instructor and amount of available time. You can even make playlists based on what you enjoy. The best part? Unlike Netflix, you can watch hours of Gaiam TV without feeling guilty. You might even get a killer six pack out of it.

The best part about the service?

YOU CAN.

WORK-OUT.

ANYWHERE.

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Gaiam TV’s entire library of videos is available anytime, anywhere, all from the comfort of your computer, iPad or smart-phone. This means you can always work-out at home or take your work-out to go. Maybe it’s the West Coast hippie lifestyle seeping into me, but I like the idea of being able to watch a short relaxation or yoga video on my iPhone whenever I want.

I’ve been trying Gaiam TV for the past few days & I have to say it’s pretty cool. Although the idea of doing Yoga really appealed to me in theory, the videos I actually enjoyed more were the ones that made me sweat. I currently have Jillian Michaels on call, 24hrs a day to kick my ass into shape in time for bathing suit season and I’m loving it. If you don’t want to be yelled at by Jillian until you have buns of steel, there are lots of other famous instructors to choose from (Rodney Yee, Seane Corn, Jillian Michaels, Mari Winsor and Kathryn Budig etc.) There’s even a Reggaeton dance class which I totally plan to shake my white girl “Culo” to tomorrow morning.

If you would also like to give it a try, Gaiam TV wants to offer you guys a Free 10-day Trial, No Strings Attached  so you can see what it’s all about. In case you’re wondering, the regular subscription is $9.95/month for unlimited streaming, commitment free & you can cancel at any time. If I become addicted to Jillian’s yelling (as I’ve heard some people do) and she doesn’t actually manage to kill me with squats & lunges, I might turn into a full time subscriber.

What do you guys think? How do combat the winter work-out blues?

This post was sponsored by Gaiam TV and Single Edition Media. As always on this blog, all opinions are my own. 

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