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We spoke to Dr. Jessica Shepherd to find out why the area around your vagina needs a little more TLC than you might think.
You’re probably cleaning your vagina wrong. Actually, you shouldn’t be cleaning your vagina at all. But your vulva (the external area around your vagina) does need to be cleaned, and it needs a little more than a bar of soap. We spoke to Dr. Jessica Shepherd, a gynecologist and women’s health expert, to find out what we’re doing wrong—and how to fix it.
I didn’t know I could clean my vagina incorrectly
The vagina refers to your internal muscles that connect the external genitals to the cervix, while the vulva is the external area that includes the labia and the clitoris. Unless you have a special soap formulated for your more intimate areas, you’re probably using a product that’s too harsh.
“The vagina has a very sensitive lining that can be easily irritated by douching and harsh soaps and cleansers,” says Dr. Shepherd. “I always tell my patients to never wash inside the vagina. It cleans itself, so let Mother Nature do her job.” So, when cleansing, remember to only clean your vulva.
Why are regular cleansers bad for my vagina?
Cleansers formulated for your body tend to include glycerin. “Glycerin is a sugar-based product that yeast loves,” says Dr. Shepherd. Cleansers can also include irritants like fragrance or have the wrong pH.
“A healthy vagina has a pH range between 4 and 4.5,” says Dr. Shepherd. “Traditional body washes and bar soaps can range between a pH of 6 and 10.” This can upset your vagina’s natural chemistry. “This area is home to a finely tuned system of good and bad bacteria, and when it’s disrupted, it can cause yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis and lead to chronic irritation.”
What products should I be using?
“You want to look for a product that’s pH-balanced and that doesn’t contain glycerin,” recommends Dr. Shepherd. Other things to look for include natural ingredients, sulphate-free products and cleansers that won’t strip the natural moisture from your skin.
Sweet Spot Labs Neroli Mandarin gentle wash, $15, sweetspotlabs.ca.
Dr. Shepherd’s tips for keeping your vaginal area clean:
1. Wash the outside of your vagina with a natural pH-balanced, wash that’s glycerin-free.
2. Dry the skin by patting gently with a clean towel to reduce moisture and bacteria growth.
3. Wear cotton underwear, which allows the skin to breathe.
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All you need is time and patience to make the perfect caramelized onions. Here's how.
Golden and sweet, yet super savoury, caramelized onions add depth of flavour to so many dishes. They make the best pizza, burger and sandwich toppers and turn plain old cooked pasta or potatoes into gourmet dishes.
And guess what? They're really easy to make! You'll need a large skillet, some onions, a pat of butter, a pinch of salt, and some time. It's a long process (40 to 50 minutes), but absolutely worth the wait. Time and patience means no scorched onions and the ultimate in flavour and texture. Here's how:
First, choose the right skillet. For best results, use a large heavy-bottomed cast iron or stainless steel skillet. If the skillet is too small the onions are crowded and will steam instead of caramelize, meaning the process takes more time. A nonstick skillet will work if that's all you've got, but you won't get the same sticky bits (called the fond in chef speak) on the bottom of the skillet that really add flavour.
Slice the onions. Trim the stem and root ends of the onions and peel away the skin. Slice the onion, lengthwise, thinly (about 1/4 inch or just less). You can use 1 to 4 onions in a large skillet. More onions will take longer to caramelize and fewer onions will take less time, simply keep your eye on the skillet depending on how many you start with. Yellow cooking onions are the most common and versatile onion to use for caramelizing. However, you can use any onion each with subtly different flavours and colours, experiment to find your favourite.
Melt butter (about 1 tbsp) in skillet over medium heat.
Add the onions when the butter stops bubbling and stir a few times to coat the onions. Cook over medium heat (reduce to medium low if the onions start to look or smell like they're burning), stirring once every 5 minutes or so, until the onions are ultra tender, a rich golden colour and have a delightful sweetness. At 10 minutes the onions are still plump and mostly white with just a few golden edges. At 20 minutes look for the onions beginning to shrink, become a little sticky and deepen in colour. At 30 minutes you'll see that the onions are a deeper, richer colour, have really started to shrink and become almost jam-like. The bits are beginning to stick to the bottom, use your spoon or spatula to scrape them up when you stir. At 40 minutes, taste the onions and check the colour. You're looking for meltingly tender onions with a rich golden hue and a sweet taste. Add a few more minutes (up to 10) depending on where they're at now. Note all the bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet in the photo below. These are good!
Deglaze the skillet and season the onions. To deglaze means to add liquid (you can use water, wine or vinegar, about 1/4 cup) to the skillet and stir for a minute or two in order to scrape up all the delicious bits (fond) that are stuck to the bottom of the skillet. The liquid will bubble up and steam, releasing those nuggets of flavour. Often in cooking, we are fearful of things stuck to the bottom of the pan, but unless it's scorched and totally black, this is where the true flavour lies. Once deglazed, stir in a pinch of salt, taste and add more as needed.
Let the onions cool. Then use as you desire. It's a good idea to make a large batch. Simply thaw before using. These are great to have on hand for quick pizza toppings or to stir into an easy pasta dish.
For more cooking tips, visit our Cooking School channel.
From lunges to overhead presses, our do-it-all workout routin gets your heart rate up, builds muscles and burns calories.If you're exhausted just thinking about what you need to accomplish at the gym—get your heart rate up, build muscle, protect your bones—you're not alone. This dynamic routine from certified personal trainer Justine Keyserlingk, owner of Toronto's Just Get Fit, lets you target all of your health goals in a single session.