We often hear about the way someone’s body will change during pregnancy, but we don’t really talk much about how bodies change after pregnancy. For example, Chrissy Teigen’s Twitter page taught me that she had to wash herself with a little syringe after peeing when she first gave birth because patting herself dry with toilet paper would be too irritating. And apparently, that’s a common thing people do after giving birth. My limited knowledge on how someone’s body changes after birth made me wonder: between breastfeeding and fluctuating hormones, what happens to a person’s post-baby period after giving birth?

Breastfeeding Hormones Can Affect Your Post-Baby Period

The short answer is it depends — each person’s body is different. I was surprised to find that whether you have a C-Section or vaginal delivery does not affect your periods after giving birth. The biggest thing that affects your periods is whether or not you breastfeed. Breastfeeding produces high levels of the hormone prolactin, which will suppress reproductive hormones. If these hormones are suppressed, you won’t have a period. Although you won’t have a period if you are exclusively breastfeeding, this is not an effective birth control method and you could still get pregnant. If you don’t want to get pregnant again immediately after giving birth, talk to your doctor about birth control methods.

Once you stop breastfeeding, your period can return anywhere from six to nine months after giving birth. Experts recommend you see your doctor if your period hasn’t returned within this window of time after weaning off breastfeeding. If you do not breastfeed after giving birth, your period can return anywhere from four to eight weeks after giving birth. If you get your period very shortly after giving birth, it is recommended to avoid using tampons so your body can fully heal.

Post-Baby Vaginal Discharge

Before your period returns, you will have a vaginal discharge called lochia. Lochia will accompany a vaginal birth or a c-section. This discharge will likely be lighter and not last as long with a c-section. Lochia generally occurs for about four to six weeks after delivery and changes color with time. Initially, the discharge is dark red accompanied by small blood clots. After the first few days, it can be watery and pinkish-brown in color. After the first week, it will likely be yellowish in color. The amount of your discharge can change throughout the day and with physical activity as well. This comes before your period even returns.

Your First Post-Baby Period

Your first period after birth will likely be different than pre-pregnancy because your body is readjusting to menstruation. Unfortunately, there is no way to know what your period will be like after pregnancy until you start menstruating again. Your first period after giving birth might be heavier than usual, and you might experience more cramping due to the uterus clearing everything out.

 After the initial first period, some people’s periods will be lighter after giving birth, some might be heavier, some have less severe cramps than before getting pregnant, while some have more severe cramps. The uterine cavity can get larger after giving birth, causing it to have more lining to shed each month, leading to heavier periods. However, this is not the case for everyone. There is truly no sure way to predict how your period specifically might change after giving birth. Most periods should return to how they were before you got pregnant, although some changes can occur due to other factors.

It’s impossible to predict how someone’s period will be after giving birth, so it is important to pay attention to your body. Your first menstrual cycle after giving birth might be different than you period before pregnancy, but if you notice continuous, painful changes, severe increase in bleeding, or other complications, contact your doctor. You know your body best so trust yourself and speak up if something feels off.

January is cervical health awareness month. Hooray! Although it’s great to be aware, what even are we being aware of? What is a cervix and how can it be healthy? All good questions with answers!

What is the cervix?

The cervix is essentially a small area of your body that connects your vagina to your uterus. The cervix sits at the top of the vaginal canal and has very small openings on either end. The cervix is about 1 to 2 inches long, and the openings open and close just to let out discharge, menstrual blood, or to let sperm pass through. The cervix opens super-wide during childbirth, and acts as a barrier to keep bacteria out of the womb all the time, but especially during pregnancy. 

The cervix is super important for your reproductive health because it does so much to keep your vagina and uterus clean and healthy. Just like any other part of your body, the cervix can be unhealthy. The main concern with cervical health is cervical cancer. When someone with a cervix turns 21 or becomes sexually active, regardless of their age, they should start having regular Pap smears. 

What happens during a cervical Pap smear?

A Pap smear is a procedure done by your gynecologist in their office to test the cells of your cervix. Your doctor will take a small sample of cervical cells by using a little brush to gently scrape your cervix and collect the cells. You might be thinking, “Uhh how can a scrape be GENTLE?!” It is uncomfortable, but the actual test takes literal seconds. Your doctor will have you undress from the waist down, put your feet in some stirrups so your legs are spread easily, and takes a look. Your gynecologist will prop open your vagina using a speculum, which kind of looks like a long beak made out of metal or plastic. The speculum holds your vaginal walls open so your doctor can reach your cervix. They’ll reach in with their brush, scrape the cervix really quickly, then take the speculum out and you’re done. Some doctors will also use their fingers to reach inside and feel around your vagina and feel the cervix to make sure nothing feels off. The whole exam is uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t be painful. If you experience pain during any part of the exam, tell your doctor immediately! You might bleed a little bit after the exam. Mild bleeding is normal, but if you bleed excessively, call your doctor immediately.

How often should I have my Pap smear?

If you are 21-25ish and have never had an abnormal result from a smear, it’s recommended to get a Pap test done every three years. Women in their thirties through menopause should get one every three years along with an HPV test. Women over the age of 65 who have never had an abnormal result might be able to stop getting Pap smears done altogether. If you’ve had an abnormal result before, have a history of cervical cancer, or have any conditions that weaken your immune system, you should get one done every year, regardless of your age. Talk to your doctor and they’ll be able to tell you how often you should get a smear done to maximize your health. 

What are possible cervical health risks?

Unhealthy cervical cells are most commonly caused by HPV or human papillomavirus. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease. If you are sexually active, you will almost certainly have HPV at some point in your life. There are about 200 types of HPV, and most types are harmless, show no symptoms, and go away on their own. It’s possible you’ll never know you’ve had HPV. HPV is so common because its spread sexually, but also through skin-to-skin contact. If you do show symptoms, you will likely get warts, genital or otherwise. They can easily be treated. In most cases, HPV is harmless and will go away on its own before you ever have symptoms. Think of it kind of like the common cold. You can get a cold through contact with other people and their germs. Most of the time your cold will go away on its own, but in some cases, it can turn into something more serious. About 12 types of HPV can cause cancer, including types 16 and 18, which are the main culprits. 

There is no cure for HPV, which is why getting regular Pap smears done is so important so abnormal cervical cells can be detected and removed right away. You can also get an HPV vaccine, which is recommended for kids of all genders when they’re about 11 or 12. The HPV vaccine is given in three rounds and helps protect against most types of HPV that cause cancer. Just because you’ve had the vaccine, however, doesn’t mean you won’t have another type of HPV at some point–just hopefully not the cancer-causing kind. If you’re an adult and haven’t had the HPV vaccine, it’s never too late! The HPV vaccine used to only be given to girls in middle school, but since it first hit the scene research has been done that boys should also get the vaccine. Although boys and men don’t typically have cervixes, they can still carry and spread HPV, which could lead to cervical cancer in a partner with a cervix. Now people up to age 45 can get the vaccine if they didn’t get it as a kid. 

Your cervix is an easy part of your body to forget about because it’s tucked away inside of you, working away without much notice. Because you can’t see your cervix, it’s important to stay on top of your cervical health. Get regular Pap smears done once you become sexually active or once you turn 21. After your first smear, your doctor will tell you how often you should get your Pap smear done going forward. Check and see if you’ve had the HPV vaccine, and if you have kids, make sure they get the vaccine as well. You can also ask your doctor to do an HPV test to check your cervical health that way as well. Now go schedule your annual, or semi-annual Pap test!

The coronavirus pandemic is here, honey, and she shows no signs of slowing down! As we’ve discovered after lock down, we can’t put everything in our lives on hold forever. It’s now about navigating a COVID filled world safely. Just because there is a pandemic doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be dating. There is still room for pleasure in a pandemic. As long as you’re safe about it! Let’s explore pandemic dating.

Pandemic Dating

Firstly, it will be hard to meet a mate out in the wild because most places are closed, and everyone in public is wearing masks so we can’t see what each person’s face looks like. Now is the time for dating apps, baby!!! Download those apps, set up a profile, and get to swiping. There are likely more people than usual on the apps because we all need some human connection right now.

You can have a virtual date through Zoom or the dating app and video chat. That is one hundred percent corona-safe and fun! Cook the same meal and enjoy it over video call, all from the comfort of your own home!

If you really want to meet up in person, you could do a socially distant date. Meet at a park and have a socially distant picnic. Or go on a socially distant walk. If you do want to be up close and personal, bring a mask!

If you meet your new honey and sparks are flying and you want to abandon all social distancing guidelines, you could both get COVID tested before your next date. To be extra sure you’re both COVID free, you should get tested, then proceed with fun under the mask activities.

Some health experts have said that if you must have sex with someone you’re not living with, you should both wear masks! At first this might sound a little extreme and not sexy AT ALL, but you know what’s even less sexy? CORONAVIRUS! Think of it as a fun element added into the mix of your sexual rendezvous. Hooking up but not being able to kiss? Forcing you to get creative with how to connect? Kinda hot.

I also recommend going on dates outside in places where you can easily distance from other people. If you go for drinks, go somewhere with a patio and lots of seating options. Go get ice cream at a walk up ice cream stand. Pack some snacks and some wine and watch the sunset in a park. The options are endless! And not only are these options corona safe, but they’re also budget friendly.

It is of course possible to meet a mate out in the wild these days, but a little challenging. Embrace the weirdness of the moment and check out the apps. Ask your potential date if they’ve been social distancing and masking up before you even meet up with them just to be safe and go from there. Maybe you two could even get COVID tested on a date? Is that weird? Everything is weird so it’s hard to tell!

We need to embrace that everything feels a little funky right now and get creative. Just because there is a pandemic doesn’t mean we need to stop flirting and going on dates. Just make sure you are safe about it!

It’s acceptable to talk about mental health struggles now more than ever, and it’s clear that we have millennials to thank for that. Seriously. Millennials and Gen Zers seem to be the ones who helped open the door to normalize talking about mental health and taking it seriously.

Mental health includes our mental, phycological, and social well being. Everyone has mental health, and at some point in their life, everyone will struggle with a mental health issue. The severity and frequency of these struggles varies person to person, but nonetheless, mental health is something we should all care about. Keeping up with your mental health should be part of looking after yourself. Now with websites like Better Help and Zoom sessions with therapists, you might be wondering if virtual therapy is worth it. Is it better than traditional therapy? Just like most things, there are pros and cons to both.

Traditional therapy, also known as talk therapy, is a tried and true method. It has been around for ages and many people have good experiences with it. In talk therapy you visit your therapist in person, usually for an hour long session, and talk about what’s going on with you and your mental health. Your therapist might ask you some questions, give you journal prompts, lead you in exercises, and give you other tools to help you cope with the stresses of life.

Virtual therapy is essentially the same thing, but rather than in person, it’s over a phone or computer. With teletherapy you can video chat your session with your therapist, and some platforms even let you text with your therapist when you just need to check but don’t need a full session.

Virtual therapy is nice because it is often far less expensive than traditional therapy and you can check in with your therapist periodically between sessions if needed. If you do a phone therapy session, it might also be easier to really dig deep and share what’s going on because you don’t have the added pressure of being face to face with someone. You can do virtual therapy right from the comfort of your home, which also makes it easier to schedule and perhaps makes you more comfortable sharing.

A draw back of virtual therapy is that you don’t get the in person connection you have from traditional therapy. Being in the same room as your therapist, face to face, allows you to build trust and connect with them on a deeper level that you could through a screen. If you’re someone that thrives off in person connection and gets energy from being around others, perhaps in person is better suited for you. Having your therapist office be a space separate from your home that you must commute to can also provide some time for you to mentally prepare going into the session.

Virtual and in person therapy are very beneficial for your mental health and both are great options to consider. You don’t have to have a severe mental illness or have experienced a trauma to start therapy. It’s beneficial for maintaining your mental health no matter what.

Let’s Talk Period Sex

Period sex. It seems to be a taboo or even “gross” topic, but I’m here to tell you period sex is awesome and offers several benefits. Admittedly, I also can’t talk about period sex without thinking of the period sex song from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on the CW, but that’s beside the point.

Many people think they can’t have sex on their period or shouldn’t have sex on their period because periods are “gross” or their partner wouldn’t be into it. First thing’s first: your period is not gross. It’s a natural and ESSENTIAL part of life. Secondly, ask your partner about it and have a conversation.

Period sex is totally safe and can be super fun as well. Here are some benefits:

  1. Your blood can act as an added natural lubrication. Your vagina is slick with blood on your period, and this added bodily fluid is natural, built in lubrication, making penetrative sex easier and more enjoyable.
  2. Orgasms can help relieve cramps and headaches. During orgasm, the pelvic muscles essentially contract and release repeatedly, and this motion can help relieve cramping that commonly comes with periods. Additionally, orgasms release endorphins, which can also help relieve pain during your period. That being said, you can also masturbate and benefit from orgasm without a partner as well. 
  3. Sensations can be more intense. Your cervix is lower and softer during ovulation and your period, and breasts can also be more sensitive during your period. Because of this, sensations could feel more intense or even just different than usual. Additionally, because of the positioning of your cervix during your period, foreplay is essential for getting your body ready for any sort of penetration. The cervix will go further into the body after about 20 minutes of foreplay to prepare for penetration. 
  4. Have extra fun and a new sexual experience. Having period sex will likely provide new or different sensations for you and your partner, which can be so fun! Also engaging in something that is seen as slightly taboo can also be a turn on and allow you to feel more free during sex, which is always a bonus. Additionally, because of the sensitivity of your cervix and possible cramps, some positions might feel better than others. Move around and try some new things and see what feels good.
  5. It can inspire you to be creative and try new things. Sex doesn’t just mean penis in vagina penetration. Being on your period can inspire you and your partner to try new things if neither of you are super into the idea of penetrative sex, no matter you or your partner’s gender. You could use sex toys together, try mutual masturbation, or even still have oral sex. If you keep a tampon or menstrual cup in and have your partner only stimulate your clitoris during oral sex, you can stay mess free. But if you’re into the idea of still having oral sex and embracing your blood, go for it! There’s also a device called Flex which is a flexible period disc that catches your blood and is safe to use during penetrative and oral sex.

Now that you know some of the benefits, what should you do to prepare for period sex? Talk to your partner! Tell them that you want to have period sex and see what they say. Open communication is key to having a good sex life!

It’s also extremely important to note that you can still get pregnant on your period! Although the chance of getting pregnant is significantly lower than when you’re not on your period, it’s still very possible. Sperm can live in your body for up to six days, so even if implantation doesn’t occur the moment you have penetrative sex, it could still happen, so use protection. If you are on the hormonal birth control pill or use an IUD and still get a period, you can’t get pregnant on your period because those forms of birth control shut down ovulation. However, if you don’t take your pill at the same time every day, there is still a chance you could get pregnant, so use condoms just to be safe.

Period sex can also still spread STIs, so make sure you know you and your partner’s STI status, or just use a condom. Condoms can also act as a barrier between your period blood and your partner, which can make clean up even easier.

Put down a blanket, a towel, or some old sheets as well. Period sex can be messy, but that can also be part of the fun! Lay down something to protect your space. You can use an old towel or blanket, or some companies even sell period sex blankets. They are a little pricey, and a towel works just fine. You can also have sex in the shower to keep things clean if that’s a concern for you.

Period sex can be fun and provide new sensations for you and your partner, and even relieve some of the cramping you might experience during your period. If period sex is something you want to try, talk to your partner about it! Let go, embrace the mess, and have fun!

May is also Masturbation Month!

In addition to being Mental Health Awareness Month and the month where many beautiful flowers start to bloom, May is also Masturbation Month! 

Masturbation is the act of touching your body or genitals for pleasure. Masturbation is totally normal and healthy, and people of all ages and genders do it. People masturbate for many different reasons, and some people don’t masturbate at all. All options are healthy and normal. 

In short, masturbation feels good and has a lot of great health benefits. Orgasm can help people relax, relieve period cramps and headache pain, and some studies have even suggested that people who masturbate or have regular orgasms live longer. Sign me up! 

People self-pleasure to release stress and relax, help them fall asleep, feel connected to their body, discover what feels good for them on their own, discover what feels good so they can communicate that to their partner, or they could just because they’re feeling horny. It’s totally okay to masturbate whether you have a sex partner or not. Masturbation while in a relationship doesn’t mean your partner isn’t sexually satisfying you. It can be used as a time for you to connect with your sexuality and body alone, just for you. And if you’re not in a relationship, it can also be used as a great way to communicate to casual sex partners what you like, as well as connect you to your own body and pleasure. 

You can masturbate many different ways. As long as you’re not hurting someone else or doing something without their consent, there is no wrong way to self-pleasure. It’s about exploring and finding what feels good. The only goal of masturbation is pleasure! Masturbation should feel good and be positive! You can use sex toys such as vibrators (if you have a clitoris), dildos (for your vagina or anus), or fleshlights (for your penis), just to name a few. You can use your hands to touch your genitals or other parts of your body such as your nipples or inner thighs. You could even use a pillow to grind up against or a detachable shower head to spray your genitals with some water pressure. Explore yourself and enjoy the process.

Some people also like to watch porn or read erotic stories to get them in the mood. Some people fantasize about different sexual scenarios. It’s important to note that just because you fantasize about something doesn’t mean you actually want it to happen in real life. It’s supposed to help you explore your imagination and see what turns you on. 

Masturbation is totally healthy, normal, and good for you. During this Masturbation May take some time to explore your body and pay attention to what feels good! You can share your discoveries with a partner or just keep them to yourself. Masturbation is technically the safest form of sexual pleasure you can engage in since it involves no one but yourself. There’s no risk of getting pregnant or STDs (unless you share unsanitized toys with someone). Masturbate as much or as little as you’d like. There’s no wrong way to self-pleasure!

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Hooray! 

Mental health is defined as “a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.” Our mental health is ever changing and evolving throughout our lives, just as our physical health does. Mental Health Awareness Month started back in 1949 as a way to bring attention to the importance of mental health, and to celebrate people dealing with their own mental health issues to find balance in their lives. Now in 2020 we have a bunch of awesome resources for people to learn about mental health, different types of mental health issues, and find resources to best care for our mental wellbeing. 

Over 450 million people across the world are living with a mental illness, and even more people have experienced bouts of mental health challenges throughout their lives, or perhaps have a mental illness that is undiagnosed. Mental health issues are common and a part of life. Anxiety and depression are most common, and even people without a diagnosed mental illness will experience these feelings at some point. It’s best to seek professional help when you feel that your mental health is affecting your life. Professional help can look like going to a therapist, seeing a psychologist to get a prescription to help you manage your symptoms, or finding support groups to attend. It’s also important to note you can see a therapist as a way to maintain your mental health and process life events. You don’t have to wait until you’re struggling to start therapy.  

You can find a therapist through your primary care doctor, or you can use resources such as Psychology Today to find therapists in your area. There are other mental health resources readily available to us as well because of the Internet! 

Youtube channels for mental health are great to gain an understanding of mental health issues and help us understand our feelings. One of my favorites is licensed therapist Kati Morton who makes videos on mental health every week. Online therapy resources such as Better Help, Theralink, and Talk Space also make therapy accessible and inexpensive for people that need it.  For a little dose of mental health resources, Instagram can be good too. I wouldn’t recommend replacing seeing an in person therapist for following therapists on Instagram or Youtube, but following some good therapy accounts can serve as good reminders for us throughout the day. My favorites are The Holistic Psychologist, Sit With Sharon, Dr. Jenn Hardy, and Lisa Olivera Therapy. 

As I mentioned, these resources are no replacement for actual therapy or a consultation from your doctor, they are just great resources to help normalize talking about mental health and give you some food for thought throughout your day. 

When it comes to mental health, it’s a lifelong journey. It’s normal to experience challenges with your mental health, it’s normal to feel really great and on top of your mental health as well. It’s important to share your feelings, talk openly about your mental health issues, and seek professional help when needed. 

If you or someone you know is really struggling with their mental health, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website or call 1-800-273-8255.

To shave or not shave—that is the question! Or to wax, epilate, trim, cut…you get the deal. We’re talking about pubic hair, baby!

As you either know or have experienced, pubic hair pops up on and around our genitals during puberty. Pubic hair likely comes at the same time armpit hair starts growing as well. Fun fact: humans are the only mammals that have pubic hair! We now know several benefits of having pubic hair, but the likely evolutionary reason we started growing it in the first place was to signal to potential partners that we are of reproductive age now. Who knew?

The decision of how to groom your pubic hair, and all body hair for that matter, is entirely up to you. You can grow it, shave it, wax it, or trim it as much or as little as you like. In fact, your grooming of your pubic hair might change throughout the seasons and your life. Do what feels right for you. Although you can choose how to you want to tend to your pubic hair, there are several benefits to having it!

Set of female razors on white towel. Close-up, selective focus.

First and foremost, pubic hair protects us. The skin on and around your genitals and crotch region is much more sensitive than the skin elsewhere on your body. This course, thick hair growing

around this area, helps protect that skin from friction during sexual activity or even exercise. Having pubic hair during sexual activity can help prevent less friction and even make sex more comfortable. Additionally, pubic hair keeps your genitals warm, which is also a plus for sexy times. If your genital area is warm, blood will flow there a bit easier, and things can feel a little more pleasurable.

Pubic hair also acts as a barrier to keep out bacteria, pathogens, and other debris. Think of your pubes as the eyelashes or nose hairs of the crotch. Having pubic hair can help protect you against STDs, UTIs, yeast infections, and vaginitis! Of course, there’s no guarantee you’ll never get any of those infections if you have pubic hair, but the likelihood or frequency goes down a bit if you have some extra protection.

Since we are the only mammals with pubic hair, the exact reason we have it is unknown. Besides being a reproductive cue like I mentioned above, there are theories that pubic hair also traps your pheromones, making you more appealing to sexual partners. Pheromones are “scent-carrying chemical secretions that affect mood and behavior.” Although we don’t know the specifics of exactly how pheromones work, we do know that research suggests they play a role in sexual attraction. You have glands in your genital region that do indeed release pheromones, so the theory states that your pubes trap these pheromones, making you more appealing to a sexual partner. Now, this is just a theory, but I like the sounds of it!

A simple benefit of having pubic hair is saving money on waxing and shaving supplies. Razors are expensive! If you’re not shaving as often, you’ll also likely have fewer razor bumps or cuts, which could lead to infection. Also, a common misconception is that pubic hair is more unclean than shaving. NOT TRUE! As long as you are washing yourself regularly, pubic hair and a clean-shaven pubic region are equally hygienic.

There’s a lot of pressure put on people, especially young women, when it comes to body hair upkeep. There are many health benefits to having pubic hair. When it comes to body hair, it’s most important to do what feels right. Whether you want to shave or not is up to you. Do whatever makes you feel most comfortable and confident! And remember, you can change your body hair removal routine at literally any time.

It’s tough to look cool when you’ve got a twitchy eye. And yes, you can quote me. Seriously, what is up with that?

In case you’ve been spared, you can just be binge-watching Workin’ Moms, and next thing you know, there’s this weird flicking sensation in your eye. A doctor might explain an eyelid twitch (or myokymia) as a repetitive, involuntary spasm of the eyelid muscles. A twitch usually occurs in the upper lid, but it can occur in both the upper and lower lids.

For most people, these unpredictable spasms are very mild, last a few seconds or a couple of minutes, and feel like a little eyelid tug; some people have blepharospasm that causes both eyelids to close completely. What causes these? Heck if I know. It’s weird. If I’m really tired, I’ve been reading or using the computer a lot, or I’m more stressed than usual, I notice them with some frequency. I’ve heard some people say caffeine, alcohol, or tobacco will bring them on as well.

The even more strange benign essential blepharospasm (the blinking in both eyes) is actually more common in women than in men, and, according to Genetics Home Reference, it affects approximately 50,000 Americans and usually develops in the middle to late adulthood. The condition will likely worsen over time, and it may eventually cause blurry vision, increased sensitivity to light and even facial spasms.

If the eye twitches become more frequent and seem more serious, it’s probably time to reach out to the doctor as in extremely rare cases; it can signal a serious brain or nerve disorder. Contact your doctor if you’re having chronic eyelid spasms along with any of the following symptoms:

  • Your eye is red, swollen, or has an unusual discharge.
  • Your upper eyelid is drooping.
  • Your eyelid completely closes each time your eyelids twitch.
  • The twitching continues for several weeks.
  • The twitching begins affecting other parts of your face.

Thankfully, most folks will just experience the annoying twitch. You can probably follow the advice of the old comedy routine, “Does it hurt when you do that? Don’t do that.” If your eyes twitch when you’re exhausted or stressed, have had too much alcohol or coffee, cut back on that stuff! You can also use some over-the-counter artificial tears/eye drops or a warm cloth for relief.

Otherwise, wait a couple of minutes and return to binge-watching.

I’ve heard quite a lot about probiotics lately. Do I need to take one? Will it solve all my problems? Quite frankly, I’ve already got enough supplements to worry about, so is all the hype worth it?

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are mostly healthy bacteria that are good for your gut. Probiotics are in foods like yogurt, tempeh, kimchi, and fermented teas like kombucha. Recently people have been talking about probiotics like they we should take them as regularly as your daily vitamins. Although probiotics have many health benefits, including aiding in digestion, weight loss, balancing vaginal pH, enhanced immune function, and healthy skin, there isn’t enough conclusive research done to make a blanket statement that probiotics can help you with all of these things, no matter who you are.

If you don’t have any digestive issues and you start taking a probiotic to target digestion, it probably won’t do anything for you. If you do have digestive issues, though, and consult your doctor about probiotic options, they can likely recommend a specific probiotic that can help.

Just like the hundreds of bacteria in our gut, there are different probiotics for different things. If you have a specific issue that you think probiotics could help with, such as your digestion, you need the specific probiotic for that. People often think there is just one general probiotic that will work for everything.

What do Probiotics Do?

probiotic icon, line gradient bacteria icon, good bacteria, healthy digestion.

Probiotics can help with so many different issues if taking the correct one because there are so many bacteria in your gut. Anywhere from 500 to 1,000, to be exact. Your gut health and microbiome affects everything in your body. Some scientists view your gut flora as an organ because of all it does for our bodies. Your gut flora helps produce vitamins like vitamin K and B vitamins, and also turns fiber into fats, stimulates your immune system, and aids in digestion. Because your gut bacteria does so much for your body, if you get unhealthy bacteria in there, stuff can get thrown off. Some science is even suggesting that people who are healthy and fit have different gut bacteria than less healthy people.

Supplementing the healthy bacteria, you already get from your food with specific, targeted probiotics could help balance some things out. Doctors suggest eating probiotic-rich food to address gut bacteria-related issues first. If you aren’t incorporating healthy bacteria into your diet at all, merely taking a probiotic won’t be the most beneficial. It’s like if you spent every single day inside and never saw the sun, and just took a Vitamin D pill. You wouldn’t be living your best life.

For example, if you have issues with vaginal infections or a lot of urinary tract infections, taking a probiotic for vaginal health could help. Much like your gut, your vagina also has a bunch of healthy bacteria inside it. Wild, right?

If you’re interested in taking probiotics, talk to your doctor before you start popping them each morning with your gummy vitamins. If you take a probiotic for something you don’t need it for, it could throw off your gut health. Talk to your doctor and see what they say first.