Health

Are Those Razor Bumps…Or an STD?

Three questions that can save you a trip to the gyno

The skin of your vagina is the most delicate of your entire anatomy. No wonder it’s such a target for issues and infections, from zit breakouts to razor rash to more serious things, such as STDs like herpes and genital warts.

So when a suspicious bump, spot, or lump suddenly shows up down below, how can you determine if it’s okay to blow off...or if it’s something major that might pose a threat to your sexual health? The only way to know 100 percent for sure is to see your gyno for tests. But when that’s not possible or you’re too crazy panicked to get dressed and hightail it to her office, suss things out by taking inventory with these three questions.

1. Does the Bump Hurt—and How Badly?
“If it’s a mild kind of discomfort or it’s more tender to the touch than truly painful, it’s probably a harmless whitehead or an ingrown hair,” says Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., clinical professor of ob-gyn at the Yale School of Medicine. “Genital warts don’t cause pain either, but the worry is herpes—the blisters that characterize a herpes outbreak hurt really badly, and they can even burn when you urinate.” If the pain is nuts, your doc needs to check you out.

RELATED: 6 Strategies to Banish Ingrown Hairs for Good

2. Is the Bump Smooth or Jagged?
A smooth, painless bump jutting out from the skin is probably just a skin tag, says Minkin. This is a super common benign growth that often pops up along body regions where skin rubs against skin—like your groin and upper thighs. “If it juts out the same way yet feels jagged and rough, like cauliflower, it’s more likely to be a genital wart,” says Minkin. Caused by the HPV virus and transmitted via skin-on-skin sexual contact, genital warts won’t lead to anything more serious. But you still need to see your gyno and find out the best way to have it removed so you don’t spread it to anyone else.

RELATED: How to Tell If It's a Wart—And the Best Way to Remove It

3. Is the Bump Closed or Open?
One or several red bumps that are closed and remain closed until they heal are most likely razor bumps, a zit, or a rash triggered by an allergic reaction, says Minkin. If it’s a painless bump just beneath the skin on either side of the vagina, it could be a Bartholin’s cyst, which is caused by a clog in one of the glands that lubricate the vagina. It’s harmless, can be about the size of a pea, and often goes away on its own.

While herpes blisters start out as closed red bumps, within days they open and turn into moist, even oozy lesions before crusting over and healing. If that’s what you’re seeing, your doctor needs to know. She can test you and prescribe meds that will ease (but unfortunately not cure) the infection.

RELATED: I Tested Positive for Herpes—Now What?

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Women Who Do THIS Workout Have the Most Sex

Can you guess which fitness routine leads to the most frisking?

Being a CrossFit junkie has its perks—and we're not just talking about being able to do pullups and lift crazy heavy weights above your head. According to the results of Match's fifth-annual Singles in America survey, unattached people who work out at CrossFit gyms have more sex than people who break a sweat in other ways. To be exact, 38 percent of female CrossFitters say they got it on at least monthly or more in 2014 (they also reported going on more dates). Coming in a close second and third in terms of most sexually active single fit women (try saying that five times fast) were those who ran and those who did Zumba. 

If CrossFit isn't in your fitness repertoire, don't worry—apparently, living any kind of active lifestyle still ups your chance of getting laid. According to the survey, 33 percent of singles who exercised in any form two to six times a week had sex at least monthly, compared to only 20 percent of singles who rarely or never worked out. So no need to swap gyms; just keep doing what you're doing, and your sex life will thank you. 

More From Women's Health:
9 Reasons Why Fit Women Have Much Better Sex
The Type of Women Men Find Most Attractive
How to Hit on Someone at the Gym (Without Being Creepy)

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11 Must-Know Facts About the Male Body in Under 1 Minute

No penises were harmed during the making of this video.

Oh, penises. Can’t live with 'em, can’t live without 'em—are we right, ladies? So in celebration of the many different sizes, shapes, and colors of love muscles out there—as well as the men they’re attached to—we put together a quick video lesson on the male body. You can never know enough about the opposite sex, and while their minds are so (irritatingly) mysterious, at least their anatomy is pretty straightforward. Get the facts:

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More From Women's Health:
16 Fascinating Facts About the Female Anatomy in 90 Seconds
13 Crucial Facts About His Penis
QUIZ: How Much Do You Really Know About Penises?

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The Type of Women Men Find Most Attractive

Survey says…

George Clooney's not the only one turned on by smart, successful women these days: In its just-released Singles in America survey, Match found that 87 percent of single men would date someone who's more intellectual and more educated than they are—and the same number of guys would have no problem dating a woman who makes more money than they do. Almost half of the single men (44 percent) said they actively seek out career-driven women, while 86 percent said they want to date someone who's confident and self-assured.

Think you may have found the potential George to your Amal? Don't be afraid to make the first move: A whopping 90 percent of the men surveyed said they would be okay with a woman asking them out.

More From Women's Health:
What Happens When You Ask Four Different Guys How Good They Are in Bed
The Social Activity That Could Make You More Datable 
9 Freaking Adorable "How We Met" Stories That Will Bring Out Your Inner Mush-Ball 

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The Objects Guys Used to Use As Condoms Will Scare Your Vagina

Ouch. Just ouch.

True fact: The first latex condom wasn't made until the 1920s. But, obviously, people were getting busy without the desire to make a baby looong before then. So what's a dude living prior to the 1400s to do? Well, according to a fascinating infographic from Lifestyles Condoms, the aristocracy in Asia used "glans" condoms, which only covered the head of the penis and were usually made out of intestines, oiled paper, animal horn, or turtle shell. Yep, turtle shells and animal horns. Is your vagina cringing yet? 


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Thankfully, the condom selection seemed to get a bit less terrifying after the 1400s. People began using linen, goat bladders, and eventually rubber condoms—which apparently were as thick as a bicycle inner tube—but it was all downhill from there.

Check out more fun condom facts here, and be very, very happy that turtle shells are no longer acceptable forms of contraception. 

More from Women's Health:
The Most Bizarre Sex-Related Google Searches Ever
9 Nightmarish Stories of Erections Gone Wrong
The Many Different Kinds of Penises You May Encounter in Your Lifetime

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What You Need to Know About the Measles Outbreak

If Disneyland isn't safe, is any place?

From influenza to Ebola, it seems like there’s always an illness that has the general public worried about their health. The latest sickness that’s got Americans in a tizzy is measles, which was once eradicated from the U.S. but has made a startling resurgence, mainly thanks to an outbreak at Disneyland. According to the CDC, 644 people in the United States suffered from the infection in 2014, and 102 have already reported the illness in January of 2015. Adding to the buzz, a 1988 letter from author Roald Dahl (he wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda) is making the rounds—and it's about losing his daughter, Olivia, to measles. Here’s what you need to know about why measles is making a comeback and how you can protect yourself and the people you love:

What Is Measles?
“Measles is a viral infection," says William Schaffner, M.D., an infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. "It spreads from person to person by what we call the respiratory route, which means if the virus is in your body, you exhale it into the air as you breathe out." Measles lasts about seven to 10 days and is characterized by the three Cs: cough, conjunctivitis (inflammation or infection of the eye), and coryza (runny nose). After dealing with that for a few days, you get a rash that starts around the head and moves throughout the rest of the body. This can also be accompanied by fever, diarrhea, and sensitivity to light. And if you can believe it, that’s the uncomplicated version of measles.

 

 

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RELATED: What Happens When You Don't Get Vaccinated

What Happens When Measles Get Worse?
“Unfortunately, measles can have complications," says Schaffner. "There’s otitis, which is a middle ear infection. There’s pneumonia because the cough indicates involvement of bronchial tubes and lungs. In the past, some children developed measles encephalitis, which is an inflammation in the brain, so the child became comatose. And lastly, many children died. We fret over how much childhood death is caused by influenza. Last year there were over 100 deaths, and that was terrible. But measles and its complications killed 400 to 500 children every year [when it was active]."

How Does It Get Transmitted?
“Let me make a comparison," says Schaffner. "We know influenza is also spread by the respiratory route. It requires one person to be within three feet of another in order to transmit the infection. With measles, it’s so highly infectious that a person with measles or who will have it the next day can be in a room exhaling, putting the virus into the air in the room. They can leave the room and someone who’s susceptible can walk in over an hour later and still get infected." A "susceptible" person is someone who’s never had measles or never been vaccinated. All children are born susceptible to measles, which is why vaccination is so important.

 

How Effective Is the Measles Vaccine?
Extremely. The measles vaccine was developed in the mid- to late-1960s, and doctors now use it combined with a mumps and rubella vaccine. Babies get the first shot at 12 to 15 months, then another at 4 to 6 years old. “If a child gets those two doses of the measles vaccine, we have documented that they are going to be protected 96 to 97 percent of the time," says Schaffner. "It’s an almost perfect vaccine, it’s safe, and that’s about as good as you can get." Even better, after you get both doses of the vaccine, you’re protected for life. Some children get a degree of fever or a bit of a transient rash, but it’s “an incredibly safe and very effective vaccine,” says Schaffner. The measles vaccine was so successful that in 2000, the CDC declared the United States officially free of the infection. Then, with help from the Pan American Health Organization, that amazing effect spread and there were no cases of measles throughout the entire Western hemisphere.

RELATED: Are You Slacking on Your Shots?

So Why Is It Back?
The answer is simple: People have stopped vaccinating their children. “Some parents in the United States—and this is the only country in the Western hemisphere where this is happening—are starting to withhold vaccination from their children," says Schaffner. "Although it’s a relatively small number, it’s growing, and these kinds of parents seem to cluster together." That means two things can end up happening: Since these are usually rather affluent families, they travel abroad with their children, who can pick up measles from other countries. They come back to the U.S., get sick, and spread it to their playmates. The other factor is that a child from another country can come here and spread measles. “It becomes a problem because of these clusters of susceptible children, so it spreads among them,” says Schaffner. Plus, there were likely children who were infected during that Disneyland outbreak who then went home to their own towns, creating satellite outbreaks around the country.

 

 
 

A photo posted by Alexis Walter (@alexismurda) on

 

Why Are Some People Against the Vaccine?
Fraudulent research is the main culprit, say experts. “The hullabaloo about vaccines being associated with autism has long been discredited," says Schaffner. "There’s no data to support that in science. There are over 20 studies that have been done to show it’s not true. The original research by Andrew Wakefield that made the false autism claims has been discredited, its publication has been retracted, and Wakefield has been barred from practicing in the U.K.” There’s no anti-viral drug against measles; when people contract it, they’re quarantined and their symptoms are treated while their bodies fight off the disease. That’s why vaccination is so vital. “This is a completely preventable disease," says Schaffner. "Years ago, the medical community of practicing doctors and public health officials said we have zero tolerance for measles. There should not be a single case. The tragedy is that it was zero until parents decided not to vaccinate their children."

How Can It Be Stopped?
Make sure your children get both inoculations of the vaccine. Although no one has died yet from this resurgence of measles, Schaffner says that’s sure to change if the virus continues growing at this rate. “It’s a killer disease, and its lethality is under-appreciated," he says. "If someone who is against vaccination saw a child with measles, they would change their minds. It’s absolutely miserable." Most American adults would have gotten the vaccine as children, but if you’re not sure, check in with your doctor, who can test to make sure you’re protected.

RELATED: Do You Know What Vaccines You Need?

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What Happens When You Ask Four Different Guys How Good They Are in Bed

Because the truth shall set you free.

So you've just rounded home base with the newish guy you’re dating or you're deep in wedded bliss. Either way, we're sure you've wondered post-coital how good you are in bed (particularly in his opinion). But let's turn the tables for a second: What if you were to ask guys how good they think they are in bed? What would they say? Would they rate their moves with a "meh" or a generous 11 on a scale of 1-10? Would their personal score line up with that of their partner?

Granted, it's all totally subjective, and who knows how honest guys would actually be. But as a fun experiment, we asked four random guys to tell us how they think their skills measure up—and their responses are pretty entertaining.

"I think I'd give myself a solid 6. I want to say I'm capable of a higher rating, but right now I'm not in the best physical shape, and so I tire easily, which of course negatively affects my performance. Sometimes, I'll have to tap out to catch my breath and chug some Gatorade." —Scott M., 27

"I am a 7.5. Depends on my mood. Sometimes I am a 9.5. Sometimes I am a 5." —Edward E., 35

"I would rate myself an 8 due to my enthusiasm, willingness to please, and...certain physical attributes. My insecurities in the bedroom are my weakness, often stopping me from taking control or being adventurous." —Silvestre A., 25

"I'd say 7. I have good days and bad days." —Chris L., 40

"I really get after the oral because my tongue has better stamina than my respiratory system and because, quite frankly, I enjoy doing it. I feel like it should be a prerequisite to most sexual sessions." —Scott M., 27

"Uh, not to get too graphic, but I use my thumb and index finger rubbing inside and outside of the woman's V. I guess I learned it through reading a sex column…the one in the back of The Onion!" —Edward E., 35

"I don't really have a go-to, although using my hands when the girl is on top is always a crowd-pleaser, which I surprisingly learned from a Maxim magazine back in high school. I'm a sappy guy, so my favorite position is the spooning position, with the whole hands intertwined and copious amounts of necking. It maximizes pleasure, as well as intimacy." —Silvestre A., 25

"It’s embarrassing, but I tend to stick with the same moves. It’s not so much a move, but a position. I like it when she’s lying on her stomach and I’m on top of her and we’re really close together." —Chris L., 40

"I don't have a girlfriend, but I asked the last woman I had sex with how I measured up, and she said I made her face tingle multiple times. So I'm going to go ahead and high-five myself about that." —Scott M., 27

"My girlfriend probably thinks I am a solid 5!" —Edward E., 35

"I don’t have a girlfriend at the moment." —Silvestre A., 25

"I’d say a 7 also, but it’d be great if she gave me a 10." —Chris L., 40

 

More From Women's Health:
Can Guys Actually Tell If You Faked an Orgasm?
5 Covert Ways to Increase His Stamina in Bed
5 Things Men Worry About the First Time They Sleep with You

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The Best Playlist for Butt Workouts

Your backside and arms were the inspiration for this mix from Physique 57's new F.I.T. Class.

Every week, Your New Favorite Playlist introduces you to workout-worthy tunes from a different fitness brand. This week, Physique 57 shares a playlist from its new class, Physique 57 F.I.T.

The entire idea behind barre classes, for the uninitiated, is that, by repeating small ballet-inspired movements (a.k.a. pulses) for an extended period of time, you work your muscles past the point of exhaustion—and seriously sculpt them in the process. But Physique 57 decided to make things even more hardcore by introducing a brand-new class called Physique F.I.T. (short for "focused interval training") with longer butt and arm segments to really tone and tighten these areas. "Physique F.I.T is a full-body class, but it is formatted so that we stay in one muscle group for a long period of time, our goal being to take that particular muscle group to fatigue, and then transition to another muscle group," says Katie Mitchell, a Physique 57 F.I.T. instructor. 

Matching the music perfectly to the pulses in the workout is crucial. "Our choreography moves to the beat of the music, so music provides clients with a meter to keep them moving," says Mitchell. Here's a playlist from the class, which launched yesterday in New York and Beverly Hills.

RELATED: The Key to Kicking Any Fitness Challenge's Ass

You can download the playlist on Spotify. Not ready to sweat this second? Sample some of the songs:

Physique 57 has locations in New York and California.

RELATED: The Perfect 45-Minute Running Playlist

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The Truth About Herbal Supplements: Many of Them Don’t Actually Contain Herbs

They’re packed with rice and other fillers, according to a new investigation.

You might have heard that taking certain non-prescription supplements containing herbs, plants, and other "natural" ingredients can help do everything from boost your metabolism to aid depression symptoms. But now the New York State Attorney General is calling for Target, Walmart, Walgreens, and GNC to stop selling several of its herbal supplements after discovering that many of the pills were 100 percent phony. 

According to a press release from the New York Attorney General's Office, scientists found that just 21 percent of the supplements tested actually had DNA from the plants they were supposed to contain. That means 79 percent didn't contain any of the herbs they said they featured. Zip.

RELATED: The Dangers of Garcinia Cambogia Extract Diet Pills: What You Need to Know 

Additionally, 35 percent of the products tested contained plants such as rice, wheat, beans, and pine that weren't listed on the labels. And that could be super dangerous for those with allergies. 

"The DNA test results seem to confirm long-standing questions about the herbal supplement industry." says New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in a press release. "Mislabeling, contamination, and false advertising are illegal. They also pose unacceptable risks."

RELATED: 4 Supplements You Should Definitely Know About 

Keeping in mind that scientists did not test every herbal supplement available at these stores, here are the supplements that contained little to none of the ingredients on the label: 

From GNC
Herbal Plus brand Gingko Biloba, St. John’s Wort, Ginseng, Garlic, Echinacea, and Saw Palmetto

From Target
Up & Up brand Gingko Biloba, St. John’s Wort, Valerian Root, Garlic, Echinacea, and Saw Palmetto.

From Walgreens
Finest Nutrition brand Gingko Biloba, St. John’s Wort, Ginseng, Garlic, Echinacea, and Saw Palmetto.

Walmart
Spring Valley brand Gingko Biloba, St. John’s Wort, Ginseng, Garlic, Echinacea, and Saw Palmetto

If you're worried about missing out on important nutrients by skipping supplements—which we now know might have no nutritional value anyway—experts recommend adding more nutrient-rich foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains, dairy products, and seafood to your diet.

RELATED: Vitamin and Mineral Supplements May Not Prevent Cancer or Heart Disease 

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5 Ridiculous Treatments That Promise to Upgrade Your Vagina

Do you really need a facial down there?!

There's plenty you can do to keep your skin in tip-top shape, like using an anti-aging cream before bed to getting facials every few months. But have you ever thought about primping your lady parts? Whether you're steaming it with herbs or injecting it with your own blood, there are quite a few kooky-sounding treatments that claim to make your va-jay-jay look and feel "better" (whatever that means). But could some of these actually do more harm than good? Here’s the low-down on what works and what's totally cray.
 


What it is: The V-Steam, offered at Tikkun Spa in Santa Monica, California, uses Mugwort leaves, popular in Eastern medicine, to cleanse the outer area of the vagina. The spa claims that the treatment does everything from improve uterine health by stimulating hormones to clear up acne to fight infections. Naturally, Gwyneth Paltrow is a fan, writing on her lifestyle website Goop that the V-Steam "is an energetic release—not just a steam douche—that balances female hormone levels."

What docs say: "It's absolutely crazy—it doesn't do anything to your hormone levels," says Lauren Streicher, M.D., the author of Sex Rx: Hormones, Health, and Your Best Sex Ever, who explains that it's important to note that when women talk about doing things to their vagina, they almost always mean the vulva—the skin outside the vagina. "You would never put high pressure steam in your vagina—that would be completely dangerous."

What’s more, you could actually burn yourself and cause serious damage to your vulva since this skin is very sensitive. "Think about the analogy of opening a bag of microwave popcorn," says Alyssa Dweck, M.D., co-author of V is for Vagina. "You could burn your hand because the steam comes out so forcefully."

RELATED: 3 Reasons You Definitely Shouldn’t Get Your Vagina Steamed
 


What it is: Invented by Charles Runels, M.D., (the same guy that created the Vampire Facial), this procedure is performed by having your own blood platelets injected into your vaginal tissue. This supposedly stimulates tissue in areas like the G-spot to help increase the likelihood of orgasming during sex. 

What docs say: "It's ridiculous, it's expensive, and [the result] doesn't last," says Streicher. "There's absolutely no science behind it—it falls into the category of things that I don't recommend [to women]." Not to mention, if a shot in the arm hurts, can you imagine how painful this must be?
 


What it is: If you're a regular bikini waxer, you’ve probably experienced your fair share of ingrown hairs and skin irritation. That's why Stript Wax Bar in San Francisco added a "vajacial," a facial for your vagina, to its menu in 2010. And in New York City, Haven Spa has its own version called "Peach Smoothie," during which an esthetician will apply an exfoliating alpha hydroxy acid scrub to the vulva area and follow that up with an acid peel get rid of ingrown hairs.

What docs say: "I caution women against putting anything on their vulva," says Streicher. "Plain water or mild soap and water are all that you need to use." If someone has an issue like irritation, dryness, or odor, she should see her doctor.
 


What it is: You've heard of vajazzling—decorating the vulva with little crystals—and now you can add temporary tattoos to the list of ways ladies are getting creative down there.

What docs say: The under-your-undies bling is probably not worth the pain. "When it comes to vajazzling and va-tattooing, most of this requires a Brazilian wax where all the hair is removed," says Dweck, "so you're going to see razor burn or a possible infection or reaction to the wax."
 


What it is: Gynos recommend this form of physical therapy to women who have incontinence issues, pain during sex, or loose muscles that may have been caused by childbirth. One of the most popular forms of pelvic floor therapy is kegel exercises, but there are other, stranger-sounding forms of therapy that include using weights inside your vagina and the InTone, a device that promises to help strengthen pelvic muscles.

What docs say: "[Doing] kegel exercises or working with a pelvic-floor physical therapist can be very helpful to build the strength of these muscles and to help with incontinence," says Dweck. "A lot of women also find that it's helpful with orgasm and sexual function due to the strengthening of the muscles and being able to have a better grip on your partner if your partner’s male." Dweck recommends women do 20 to 30 kegel exercises throughout the day.

Since pelvic-floor therapy is mostly available at major medical centers and not an option for all women, Streicher also likes Intone, which she says is designed to do what a physical therapist would do. However, she cautions against using vaginal balls or weights. "Many of these products have never been tested in clinical trials," she says.

RELATED: Take a Bizarre Look Back at Period Products Used Throughout History

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