But whether you’re struggling to keep up with nonsense age labels, or you’re fully behind the expert who claims that women are happier – and healthier – when they choose not to marry or have children, the latest study looking at both romantic and familial relationships is pretty interesting.
A new study found that marriage actually leaves women more stressed out than starting a family and having children. It’s apparently less stressful dealing with baby cries, a lack of sleep and endless dirty nappies than trying to make a marriage work.
Researchers from the University of Padova found that 75% of the female participants were responsible for the majority of parenting and household duties, and one in five women said that the main source of their stress was a lack of support from their spouse.
It also found that a man’s health deteriorates considerably when their wife dies, yet women appear to be healthier when their husband passes away as they are better equipped to deal with stress.
‘Widows cope better than widowers with the stress deriving from the loss of a partner,’ Dr Caterina Trevisan of the University of Padova said.
Dr Caterina told The Telegraph: ‘Since women generally have a longer lifespan than men, married women may also suffer from the effects of caregiver burden, since they often devote themselves to caring for their husband in later life.’
It supports professor of behavioural science at the London School of Economics, Paul Dolan, who earlier this year told a crowd at the Hay Festival: ‘Married people are happier than other population subgroups, but only when their spouse is in the room when they’re asked how happy they are. When the spouse is not present: fucking miserable.
‘We do have some good longitudinal data following the same people over time, but I am going to do a massive disservice to that science and just say: if you’re a man, you should probably get married; if you’re a woman, don’t bother.’
According to new research, wearing woollen pyjamas is the secret to a good night’s kip.
Australian scientists have found that when you put on a cosy pair of wool pjs, it keeps the body in the ‘thermal comfort zone’, resulting in a more rested sleep.
They discovered that students in their 20s who wore merino wool to bed fell asleep four minutes faster than those who didn’t. Their counterparts took 15 minutes to snooze, whereas the wool wearers were dreaming within 11 minutes and got an extra seven minutes kip.
The participants aged between 65 and 70 who donned the woollen pyjamas were asleep in 12 minutes compared to the non-wool wearing individuals, who took 22 to 27 minutes to catch some z’s.
The University of Sydney researcher Dr. Paul Swan said: ‘Not so long ago sleeping under wool bedding was the norm, and science is now rediscovering the benefits of sleeping in wool.
‘Maybe it is not a coincidence because wool regulates your body temperature far better, keeping you in what is known as ‘the thermal comfort zone’.
‘You therefore not only fall asleep quicker, sleep longer, but also have deeper, better quality sleep.
‘Enjoying good sleep has become increasingly difficult in modern times, and so anything that helps is great for your mental and physical health.’
When exhaustion becomes a bigger problem (and how to come back from it)
We often use the phrase ‘burnt out’ to describe feelings of exhaustion or overworked-ness. But the term is now included in the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases as an ‘occupational phenomenon’ by the World Health Organisation.
‘Burnout is a sign of our times and the result of constant high levels of stress that we are all under,’ Dr Bella Smith, known as @thedigitalgp on Instagram, tells us. ‘In my job as a GP we are seeing it more and more due to higher work pressure and long working hours.’
Knowledge is power, so it’s imporant to know the risk factors so you can spot it from a mile off. ‘Take time to look after yourself and don’t be frightened to take back control of your life, as this could prevent burnout,’ Dr Smith adds. ‘Please see your GP if you have any concerns about your mental, physical or emotional health.’
Without further ado…
What is burnout?
‘Burnout is a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion caused by prolonged and excessive stress and lack of support, that can lead to low achievement and inefficiency at work, explains Dr Smith. ‘In burnout, there are often overwhelming feelings of helplessness and resentment that initially affect you at work, but in time your home life and health may also suffer.
‘It is normal for us all to occasionally have a bad day at work, but burnout is when every day seems like a bad day. This is when things can spiral out of control. It’s important that the signs and symptoms of burnout are recognised early, as early intervention may prevent it.’
‘Work is the biggest contributor to stress in the women I work with,’ adds anxiety expert, hypnotherapist and author Chloe Brotheridge. ‘It can seem as though we’re expected to be “on” all the time, answering emails at all times of day and night. Because work is connected to our ability to put food on the table and pay our rent (basically our survival), we can push ourselves ever harder in order to create a sense of security.
‘Many people don’t feel able to be open about any mental health struggles they might be experiencing and workplace support is often lacking. Burnout happens when we’ve pushed ourselves so hard that our body forces us to stop. The adrenal glands are overworked and people report fatigue and an inability to continue with normal life when a ‘burnout’ happens.’
What causes burnout? What are the risk factors?
‘There are many factors that can lead to workplace burnout – just a few of the most common are: having a heavy workload, including overtime work; chronic workplace stress; not being able to meet constant demands; and always feeling under pressure to achieve,’ adds Dr Imogen Bexfield, Medical Director of White Swan Aesthetics.
‘Burnout is not simply caused by long working hours, but can occur when a person does not feel in control of how their job is carried out, or is not supported in the office or at home,’ Dr Smith continues. ‘We all respond differently to stress and workload pressures depending on our past experience, lifestyle, current social circumstances and personality traits. Burnout can creep up on you and sometimes it will take someone else to notice that you are not yourself or not coping as you normally would.’
What are the signs and symptoms?
‘Burnout is a gradual process,’ explains Dr Bexfield. ‘It doesn’t usually happen overnight and is more than just a “bad day” or a “tough week.” Workplace burnout is something that persists for longer than a week or two. Spotting the early warning signs of burnout in someone can be difficult, as the condition can develop over weeks or months, as their response to work-related stress evolves.’
So, what are the tell-tale signs? ‘Being in fight or flight much of the time, waking up feeling exhausted even after eight hours in bed, fatigue, a lowered immune system and irritability could all be signs you’re pushing yourself too hard and could be on your way to burning out,’ Chloe adds.
But being aware of these red flags is a vital step in getting on the road to recovery more quickly. ‘Recognition of burnout in yourself and colleagues is so important as, if it is caught early, wheels can be put in motion to deal with the problem,’ adds Dr Smith. ‘Emotional symptoms include feeling guilty about not working hard enough, feeling negative, trapped and detached from others.
‘Physically, you may notice that you are getting unwell with regular coughs and colds, you may not be sleeping well or have noticed a change in your appetite. Some people describe aches, pains and headaches from the constant stress.
‘Behavioural changes then occur whereby you may isolate yourself from others, focus on your own mistakes or your workload; you may even notice that you are becoming repeatedly cross or angry with a colleague and find it hard concentrate. You may be drinking more alcohol due to your stress levels or have stopped exercising due to time commitments. This can all lead to a negative cycle where you are exhausted, cynical and inefficient at work creating a more negative environment and increasing workload.’
We’ll discuss things you can do to support burnout recovery next, but first and foremost you should always make an appointment with your doctor.
‘If you feel you may be under too much pressure and having any of these symptoms, be sure to see your GP,’ says Dr Bexfield. ‘Many people feel as though workplace burnout isn’t as serious as some illnesses, but if not treated it can lead to depression and other more stress-related illnesses. Your GP will be able to assess and diagnose you, offering you the appropriate treatment and time off work if necessary.’
‘Maintaining a work/life balance is crucial to having a good quality of life,’ says Dr Bexfield. ‘Try to schedule in time for yourself, take a yoga class, catch up with positive friends, or just take some out to relax and breathe.’
‘The most important thing to do is to recognise [burnout] in yourself and others,’ says Dr Smith. ‘It needs to be managed in a multifactorial way including focusing on your lifestyle, your workload and your mental wellness.
‘Practical ways to avoid burnout are to take back control and say “no” to more commitment or responsibility. Make a list of all your stresses and responsibilities as this can help visualise your workload enabling you to switch off. Take a break or a holiday and block out time where you are with your family or friends and can’t be disturbed.
‘Focus on healthy living – improve your diet with fresh home cooked food, cut down your sugar intake and drink plenty of water to keep hydrated. Try to find time to exercise regularly, even if it is just a walk outside to get some fresh-air. Cut down the amount of alcohol and the caffeine you are drinking and limit your time on social media.
‘Focus on relaxation; for example, try yoga, meditation or mindfulness. Communicate with your family, friends and work colleagues for support – burnout can happen to anyone of us at any time and makes us human. Consider changing your job or reducing your workload in the long-term to prevent this happening again.
‘Finally, celebrate small achievements by writing down in a diary how you are feeling so that you can reflect on how far you have come. Recovery can be slow so don’t be too hard on yourself, see you GP for support, to help with time off work if required or, in some cases, medication.’
Remember that, if you feel exhausted and like there is too much on your plate, there is always help and support available (even if it doesn’t feel like it!) The first step is that all-important GP appointment.
We’ll leave you with some wise words from Chloe Brotheridge: ‘Remember that you are more than your achievements and ‘being productive’ is not the road to lasting happiness. Connect back to what really matters to you and make time for the simple pleasures in life that can only be enjoyed when we slow down.’
But there is still much mileage to take on this path. Not everyone is game for fanny chat and would rather keep schtum. Which is why put some frequently asked questions to a gynaecologist. Because if you can’t ask your friends, at least you can find out more from us.
We chatted to consultant gynaecologist Sara Mathews, about everything from how to look after you vagina, to the smell and taste.
The first thing she wanted to get across was getting our anatomy right: ‘The vagina only refers to the inside bit that is covered with a special and very soft type of skin. However, when girls talk about their vaginas, they usually don’t mean the anatomical inside vagina thing-a-me-bob, they are usually referring to the outside bits – the labial folds and the skin around the clitoris and anus. This is called the vulva.’
Is your vagina self cleaning? Or should you wash it with something specific?
SM: ‘So to be clear the vagina is the inside part and the vulva is the outer. The vagina cleans itself. It’s all about keeping the pH in balance. The pH of the vaginal fluid is around 4.5, which makes it acidic. It is maintained that way by the vaginal microbiome. The good bacteria in the microbiome (officially called lactobacillus) produces lactic acid that reduces the pH and prevents infections. Infections are caused when these good bacteria are killed and other ‘bad’ bacteria take over. This can happen if someone is on antibiotics, which can cause thrush, or after sex, because sperm is alkaline. If a fishy odour occurs, it can indicate an overgrowth of the bad bacteria called bacterial vaginosis. Bacterial vaginosis is an imbalance of those good and bad bacteria. It is usually treated using vaginal antibiotic cream or gel, or a short course of oral antibiotics. A pH balancing vaginal gel once or twice a week and an oral probiotic can help prevent recurrence.
In the 60s there was a trend for something called vaginal douches, which involved squirting water, often mixed with vinegar, into your vagina. This removed all of the good lactobacilli, leaving everything too clean, and a prime environment for bad bacteria to invade.
However, you should wash your vulva on a daily basis. As you know the vulva is naturally covered in hair, which serves to cushion the labia and trap particles, sweat and dead skin cells. Secretions collect in the folds of the labia, so if it isn’t washed on a regular basis, then you will start to smell and could develop all sorts of infections.
I actually don’t have a problem with people using the same soap/shower gel in the shower that you use for everywhere else, as long as you rinse it all off. You can just use water if you like, but I do think soap/gel does a better job. Intimate washes such as Femfresh, and various organic paraben-free are good because they’re pH balanced, free of irritants and contain soothing ingredients. They can be particularly beneficial after the menopause when the pH of the vagina rises and skin can get a bit sensitive.’
What are the signs of an unhealthy vagina?
SM: ‘Signs of an unhealthy vagina/vulva include itching, burning, unusual odour and a coloured discharge (green or yellow), which is wetter than normal on your pants.’
Is there a difference between pain that needs investigating vs period pain?
SM: ‘Most ladies get period pains of some sort, but if your period pains are getting worse each month to the extent that they mean time off work or cancelling your social life, then you should see your doctor. Pain in the week before your period starts can be a sign of endometriosis, which is a progressive disease that causes internal scarring and infertility. It can also cause deep internal pain during sex, so if you are have any of these symptoms you should seek help.
Pain around the vulval skin associated with blisters can mean genital herpes, which can be treated with antiviral drugs. Don’t be worried or embarrassed if you think you might have herpes. Go and have a test and ask for advice. I see many women who think they have herpes when it isn’t that at all. However, if it is then your doctor or STI clinic will be able to provide sensible advice, medicine and will check you for other possible infections.’
Does what you eat affect the health of your vagina?
SM: ‘Your body has an internal regulating system that should keep the vagina and vulval skin healthy, but that can be upset if you are very underweight or very overweight, because of the resulting hormone imbalance. A sugary diet makes thrush more likely, and persistent thrush can actually be an early sign of diabetes.
If you have nut allergies then your boyfriend needs to watch what he eats, as vaginal discomfort and swelling can happen after sex if he has eaten nuts beforehand. Traces of the allergens can find their way into seminal fluid. Wearing a condom should prevent the issue completely.
I am a huge fan of probiotics. These can help to keep the good and bad bacteria balanced in the vagina to prevent infections (a healthy happy harmonious microbiome!). Plus they’re good for your gut.’
Can eating different foods change the way you taste?
SM: ‘I am assuming you mean during oral sex?! The taste and smell of the vaginal fluids and their pheromones are affected by your hormones, not your diet.
However, this is different for boys though. A Friday night chicken tikka masala will result in slightly curry flavoured sperm, so take note.’
What should your vagina smell like? Why is there a common comparison to fish?
SM: ‘A clean healthy vulva and vagina should have very little smell. In fact, fresh raw potatoes come to mind.
A fishy smell can occur after sex, or at the start and end of a period. This is usually a sign of infection due to bacterial vaginosis or trichomonas. Trichomonas is a sexually transmitted infection that also results in a lot of yellow, green discharge and will only clear up with the right antibiotic.’
What do different discharges mean?
SM: ‘It is normal to have some discharge throughout the month. A healthy discharge should be colourless at ovulation and be thicker and whiter just before a period. After sex, it is completely normal to have more discharge the next day. It’s also fine to have more clear discharge midcycle if you aren’t taking the pill. One of the signs of ovulation is having more clear sticky discharge around that time. It is a bit like uncooked egg white, but it doesn’t smell or irritate.
Green or yellow discharge on the other hand, as I said above, is a sign of infection, as well as an indicator of irregular bleeding, especially after sex.
A copious amount of thick white discharge, often paired with an itchiness is usually a sign of thrush.
Pre-adolescent girls usually have some white odourless discharge, which increases with hormone surges around eight years of age and the start of their periods. Ladies who are post-menopausal have no vaginal discharge unless they take HRT.’
Is it best to remove your hair down there?
SM: ‘No. It is normal in some hot countries and cultures for women to keep the vulva completely hair free, and it does make cleaning the area easier. But the hair is there for a reason. It traps pheromones (which some partners prefer) and cushions the labial skin. Of course, the hair is also a cunning way to disguise protruding inner labia, which becomes an issue for the majority of women as they get older, when the fat in the outer labia reduces making them less plump.’
What should you do if you get an ingrown hair on your vagina?
SM: ‘Well the vagina is hairless, but ingrown hairs on the vulval skin can occur after waxing or shaving the area. An exfoliant can be used over the ingrown hair, but if there is pus in the follicle, squeeze it out and try to grasp the hair with tweezers to remove it. Apply a little tea tree oil or tea tree oil moisturiser to the area and keep clean. The ingrown hair will eventually resolve.’
Is Gwyneth Paltrow damaging our vaginas by telling us to steam it?
While we get excited about the prospect of sashaying in the sunshine during our lunch hour, we are far less amused by that itchy side effect of hot weather – thigh chafing.
Oh yes. When the temperature soars and you’ve ditched your jeans in place of an easy breezy summer dress there’s no getting away from it. It’s itchy, it’s sore, it can leave you with red raw patches between your legs – and it’s not pleasant. Waddling might relieve it for a bit, as can subtly trying to tuck your dress between your legs and hoping no one notices.
But if you’re not keen on wincing as you slow walk home, then here’s how to avoid thigh chafing forever.
What is thigh chafing?
Thigh chafing is the result of the skin between your legs consistently rubbing, which can cause irritation. During the hotter months, we sweat more and therefore it makes the friction between your thighs even worse. Some people experience some slight discomfort, others find they get rashes, but the repeated rub can also cause the skin to break and make it feel painfully raw.
How to stop thigh chafing
There are a few foolproof ways to prevent thigh chafing, most commonly in the form of either a cream, balm, or a garment that acts as a barrier. So there’s no need to bin all your summer dresses just yet.
One of the best ways to prevent thigh chafing is to apply a cream or ointment between your legs before you head out. Any creams, gels or balms that offer lubrication will reduce the friction and also soothe the skin.
Try Bepanthen, a well-known nappy rash cream. It’s an ointment that’s created for babies (so you know it’s super soft and gentle), and it works to reduce and recover irritated skin. It contains no fragrance or preservatives and creates a moisturising barrier between the rubbing skin. You only need a dab of it on the chafing hotspots in the morning and it will protect you all day, so a small tube should see you through the summer.
If you’re looking for a stick that quite literally glides on and protects your thighs all day, give the Body Glide Unisex Body Original Anti Chafe Balm Stick a go. While it is a little pricey compared to Bepanthen, it does provide protection from the dreaded rubbing and doesn’t need to be reapplied during the day. No matter how sweaty and clammy you get, the balm will keep chafing at bay and is made with allergen free, plant-derived ingredients. It also doesn’t leave you feeling sticky and you don’t have to wait for it to dry – just glide and go.
Body Glide Unisex Body Original Anti Chafe Balm Stick, £17.49 for 22g – Amazon
If creams or balms aren’t your thing, then fear not – there are a couple of different items you can wear under your dress or skirt that will keep the skin separated and no one will be any the wiser.
These anti chafing shorts will act as a thigh barrier, leaving chafing at the door. They include cool comfort technology which will keep you feeling fresh and free all day. They come in three colours – black, white and almond – and are a bargain at only £12 a pair.
If you’re looking for a thigh barrier alternative, you could also get a pair of regular tights and cut them at the knee. You’ll end up with breathable and light tights-shorts that you can wear under your clothes.
How to heal thigh chafing fast
First you need to make sure you gently clean the area with water and ensure it’s dry before applying any products to the affected skin to reduce risk of infection if the skin is broken.
You can use Bepanthen to heal thigh chafing quickly, as it is full of pro-vitamin B5 which helps recover irritated or sore skin. You can also use a soothing aloe vera gel, or if you prefer a homemade remedy then soaked and refrigerated chamomile tea bags reportedly do the trick.
So there you have it – your legs need never give you summer-induced pain again.
If you’ve ever experienced bladder leaks, it’s nothing to be embarrassed about – in fact, it’s time to talk about them…
Incontinence is often thought to be something that affects us when we get older, but the truth is that two thirds of all women in the UK experience it at some point in their lives.
According to Always Discreet, 60% of women who struggle with bladder leaks admitted they’re too ashamed to discuss it, with almost a third taking a year or more to ‘admit’ they had an issue.
That’s why it’s so important that we talk more openly about incontinene: one, to normalise it and, two, so that people don’t feel too embarrassed to seek help and support.
‘There are many different types of bladder incontinence which is why it is so important you speak to your doctor,’ explains Dr Anita Mitra, aka the Gynae Geek. ‘If you get the right diagnosis, the doctor can advise on the most effective treatment for you.
Dr Anita Mitra is a London based gynaecologist who works for the NHS, educating woman as @gynaegeek on Instagram
‘The most common types are stress and urge incontinence. Stress incontinence is when you experience leaks due to stress on your bladder from the likes of coughing, laughing or exercising. Urge incontinence is when you struggle to reach the toilet in time. Women can also experience a mix of both.’
Dr Anita has teamed up with Always Discreet for #WeeNeedToTalk, a campaign that encourages women to open up about incontinence; to quote her recent Instagram Q&A, ‘If it bothers you, bother someone out about it‘ and see your doctor. Here’s what you need to know to be in the know…
Bladder leaks may happen at any age (and are more common than you think)
‘Bladder leaks are far more common than you think in younger women. Research from Always Discreet found that almost two thirds of people aged 18-24 have experienced them. You can experience them at any age for a wide range of reasons, such as weight gain, the impact of surgery or even your diet. The most important thing is to speak to your doctor if you have any concerns – because it is not something you simply have to put up with.’
Reducing your liquid intake doesn’t prevent leaks
‘A lot of people believe that if they reduce their liquid intake, they reduce their chances of bladder leaks. In fact, this can have the opposite effect. If your urine is very concentrated it can irritate your bladder and make leaks more likely. It is very important that you drink enough water throughout the day.’
Bladder leaks CAN be treated, and not just with surgery
‘In most cases, there is always something that can be implemented to better improve your bladder leaks. There are different types of bladder weakness so I’d advise a trip to the doctor to help you first establish the cause, in order to find the best course of action for your situation.
‘Surgery is an option but it’s not the only one. Everyone is different and while some people require physio to see improvement, others may be better suited to medication. People often underestimate the benefits of simple pelvic floor exercises which, when done properly and consistently, can greatly improve symptoms in a lot of cases.
The menopause does not make you incontinent
‘Many people believe that bladder leaks are just part of going through the menopause and although experiencing them during your menopause it is not uncommon, it doesn’t mean it is something you have to put up with. A drop in the levels of oestrogen and progesterone around menopause can cause the bladder and pelvic floor tissues to become thinner and weaker, making you more prone to leaks. It’s important that you speak to your doctor as there is usually something you can do about it. Don’t accept it as a process of the menopause, there are ways of improving and managing it.’
‘There are various types and different causes of incontinence and while pelvic floor exercises can help considerably in some cases, they won’t always cure all forms of bladder leaks. That being said, pelvic floor exercises do help many women see a marked improvement and they’re a particularly effective treatment for those with stress incontinence. This is when your bladder is put under too much stress over a prolonged period and can be brought on during pregnancy or due to weight gain. People experiencing stress incontinence finding themselves leaking when they run, cough or laugh for example. There is no harm in everyone exercising their pelvic floors to start strengthening them up over time!’
Strong abs don’t = strong pelvic floor
‘This isn’t necessarily true; athletes commonly have weak pelvic floors due to the huge strain that intense training can put your body under. Although your abs and core muscles can contribute to the strength of your pelvic floor, you can easily have rock hard abs and a weak pelvic floor, and vice versa. The two don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand so pelvic floor exercises are just as important as any other exercise.
Your diet can have an impact
‘Diet can definitely act as a trigger for bladder leaks, especially those suffering with stress incontinence, when the bladder is put under too much pressure. If you are constantly constipated, you are putting your bladder under access pressure, which could lead to leaks. A lot of diets nowadays focus on eliminating carbs from, however this often results in us not eating enough fibre and so causing constipation. Sometimes we can miss the signs of being constipated because we often consume a lot of caffeine which helps you open your bowels even though you may not be eating enough fibre.
‘Caffeine can also trigger leaks because it can irritate the bladder and acts as a diuretic so can increase your chances of becoming incontinent. If you are experiencing bladder leaks, it’s worth reducing your intake of caffeine to see if this improves the symptoms.’
As can your period
‘It is not uncommon for women to experience increased bladders leaks in the build-up and/or during to their period. The increased progesterone levels may act as a muscle relaxant. Due to your bladder and pelvic floor being a muscle, it can make leaks more likely. However, just because it is not uncommon doesn’t mean you have to put up with it. It might be you just need some physio, or it might be a symptom of a more underlying issue. By speaking to your doctor, you can find the right treatment.’
Incontinence and pregnancy & childbirth
Opting for a caesarean doesn’t prevent incontinence
‘A C-section is not an effective way of preventing damage to your pelvic floor. During pregnancy the weight of your baby puts prolonged pressure on your pelvic flhttps://www.marieclaire.co.uk/life/health-fitness/pelvic-floor-421759pelvicoor which can cause it to weaken to the point where many women first experience bladder leaks during pregnancy. Although having a vaginal delivery can cause further weakening, just being pregnant has a huge part to play in the weakening of your pelvic floor.’
Just as using forceps during a birth doesn’t cause incontinence
‘Your doctor will only suggest an assisted birth if it is the best thing for you and your baby. Being fully dilated for an extended period of time puts a huge strain on your pelvic floor. A very long period of pushing on top of that, can impact your pelvic floor more greatly than the use of forceps themselves.’
If you didn’t do pelvic floor exercises before or during pregnancy, it’s still worth doing them afterwards
‘It is equally important to do you pelvic floor exercises after your pregnancy, as during. Ideally, I would suggest you do them before, during and after pregnancy, however being a muscle, the pelvic floor is never beyond repair. This means, it is never too late to start.’
If you’re worried about incontinence, you can call Bladder Health UK’s confidential advice line on 0800 4334 600
Note that the purpose of this feature is to inform, not replace one-to-one medical consultations. For advice tailored specifically to you, always discuss your health with a doctor.
However, if you’re a big beard fan then you might want to listen up. Or, if you’d prefer to live in ignorance, stop reading immediately.
Researchers from Hirslanden Clinic in Switzerland decided to test just how clean a group of men’s beards were compared to dogs. It found that of the 18 male participants, 100% of their beards contained bacteria. Yes, 18/18. Of the 30 dogs tested, however, just 23 of them carried bacteria in line with the beards – meaning that mens beard’s are actually dirtier than your pet dog.
Alarmingly, seven of the tested beards were actually so unclean that they could actually have caused harm to another human’s health.
‘Our study shows that bearded men harbour a significantly higher burden of microbes and more human-pathogenic strains than dogs,’ Andreas Gutzeit told The Mail on Sunday.
‘On the basis of these findings, dogs can be considered as clean compared with bearded men.’
So the question is – why?
Well, men’s facial hair is more likely to be curly, making it more likely to trap dirt. On top of that, dogs are washed often whereas beards, apparently, are not.
You may not have heard of Jordan Ashley, but you’re about to hear about her brainchild, with Souljourn Yoga sweeping across the globe – literally!
‘While embracing New York City’s fast-paced and driven yoga culture, Jordan Ashley recognized a need for service-based yoga; a need for experiences which give perspective to the self through selflessness,’ her website reads. ‘Feeling extremely blessed to not only be given the opportunity for education, but to have a voice in society, she felt it was imperative to raise both awareness and funds for girls all over the planet who are denied such essential human rights.’
But what is Souljourn Yoga, and how can we get involved?
Digital Features Editor Jenny Proudfoot sat down with Jordan to better understand the practice and to pick her brains on building a business…
Talk me through your journey…
I returned to New York after living abroad and went to a yoga class where I had an a-ha moment when I realised how everyone was completely isolated by the perimeter of their mats. These women would show up week after week to the same class at the same time and go through an experience of breath, movement, and in many ways, healing together. Why couldn’t we leave our mats and go to places where the leisure of yoga doesn’t exist?
Education is the gateway for equalising the playing field so why can’t this same tribe of women travel, connect, and support girls’ education initiatives on the ground whom I had worked with firsthand to create a global sisterhood? As a journalist and yoga teacher creating a charity that merged my three passions of travel, women’s empowerment, and yoga was the perfect platform to kickstart this philanthropic adventure.
What is Souljourn Yoga?
Souljourn Yoga is a US charity inspired by seva, the Sanskrit word and yogic principle of selfless service. Our aim is to raise awareness and funds for girls education in developing countries by teaming up with both local and international non-profits. We create opportunities to explore, practice, and educate through yoga both on and off of the mat by offering a spectrum of workshops and global retreats to continue to promote female empowerment and education to communities where equal opportunities aren’t always readily available.
Currently, over 130 million girls around the world are denied an education, which also means they’re denied the chance to improve their overall health, income, quality of life, and the ability to empower themselves with endless opportunities. A girl with an education is also less likely to become a victim of violence and child marriage, which are two predominant issues that women face across the globe.
What does a typical working day for you entail?
Everyday is a little different! I usually hole up at a neighbourhood coffee shop and respond to emails and work on project/retreat development. I usually break for lunch and go to either a yoga or pilates class with a friend and then return for conference calls or physical meetings.
What is the boldest thing you’ve ever done?
Deciding to trek to Everest Base Camp at 23 by myself without any trekking or camping experience! Let’s just say I adapted fast.
What decision changed your life?
Walking out of my abusive relationship at 22 to live in Cambodia as a journalist.
What has been your proudest moment?
In 2017 I had the honour of being one of the speakers at TedxHanoi which was an extremely empowering experience to be able to share my mission and why it’s vital to change the way that we give/donor-recipient relationship to one of equality instead of hierarchy.
What do you refuse to compromise on?
What has stopped you progressing further?
I would say fear of losing quality of life over this so called “work/life” balance that we are so encouraged to maintain.
What is your superpower?
Empathy. It’s only through experiencing my own obstacles and hardships that has allowed me to cultivate a sense of deeper compassion and non-judgemental attitude for when my friends and family are going through a rocky time.
What is your anthem for gearing yourself up?
“Under Pressure” By David Bowie and Queen.
What is your mantra?
Open heart, no expectations.
When is the last time you felt personally discriminated against?
For being questioned as Westerner on my motives and authenticity for wanting to do on-the-ground projects in Africa. It was pretty brutal and honestly shook me, but was a reminder on how I have to be hyper-aware of as to make sure the work myself and Souljourn does is always seen as supportive/collaborative as opposed to helping/saving.
What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
Not everyone has a soul mate. Some of us have a soul purpose.
What is one thing you would change for women?
Only one? Even though it’s 2019, there is still a long way to go for women to feel like equal members of the workforce. I think one challenge is this ever-looming FOMO of prioritising work over family planning or relationship building which ends up being a complete mind cluster in second guessing every decision that has led you to where you stand today. Being accountable for your decisions and finding substance in the work you do is what makes “work” transform into a “lifelong journey” in that it is one component of yourself versus the entire definition.
What is your tip on asking for more?
Work your network! Those already in your contact list are your first and most ardent supporters. Good work begets good work. Honest heartfelt effort is unforgettable. Ask for help. Vet advice – move forward. When you stumble remember there is a lot to learn from the ground that carries you as you shall again rise.
What should women always do?
Women shouldn’t do anything. They can do, be, succeed, love, etc any which way that they want.
Upcoming Souljourn Yoga retreats that are available to join include South Africa, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Peru, with plans for further retreats in Tibet, Rwanda and Morocco.
Several celebs have already cancelled their memberships
Last night, Chrissy Teigen took to Instagram to announce that one of SoulCycle’s biggest investors, Stephen Ross, is organising a fundraising event for Donald Trump in the Hamptons on Friday.
Stephen Ross, who is the chairman of Related, the company that owns Equinox Fitness – Equinox has a 97% stake in SoulCycle – is charging up to $250,000 for lunch, a photo and a private roundtable with the president, The Washington Post reports.
‘A lot of my very cool, socially aware, progressive, awesome, amazing friends are members of Equinox or SoulCycle, and I just wanted to let you know that their owner is hosting a giant Trump fundraiser, so f*ck them,’ Chrissy said on Insta Stories.
‘Cancel your memberships today, you can come to my house and work out,’ she continued. ‘Just think about it, if you’re fine with that, cool, go right ahead. But if you’re not, and I know a lot of you are not fine with that, cancel.’
Celebs like QueerEye’s Bobby Berk, Billy Eichner, Mandy Moore and Sophia Bush were quick to join Chrissy in her boycott – with Bush skipping her SoulCycle class, and Eichner tweeting Equinox about the policy for cancelling memberships.
In light of the controversy, both fitness brands have come out with a statement, distancing themselves from Stephen Ross and calling him a ‘passive investor’.
SoulCycle (they recently opened the first UK studio in London) shared a note written by CEO Melanie Whelon, reassuring their members that they ‘believe in diversity, inclusion, and equality.’
‘SoulCycle in no way endorses the political fundraising event being held later this week. SoulCycle has nothing to do with the event and does not support it,’ Whelon stated. ‘Consistent with out policies, no company profits are used to fund politicians.’
A similar statement released by Equinox reads: ‘we wanted to let you know that Equinox and SoulCycle have nothing to do with the event and do not support it. As is consistent with our policies, no company profits are used to fund politicians.’
‘We believe in tolerance equality, and will always stay true to those values. Mr. Ross is a passive investor and is not involved in the management of either business.’
We’ve all been there – you’re sweating it out at the gym and suddenly someone is hanging around the machine you’re using, tapping their feet and passive aggressively looking at their Apple watch. Annoying, right? But what else riles you up when you’re simply trying to get in a good workout? People blasting out music without headphones? Gym selfies? ‘Reserving’ equipment?
Actually – and unsurprisingly – all of the above.
Online golf shop GolfSupport.com analysed thousands of tweets using ‘gym pet peeves’ to compile a list of more than fifty annoying gym habits. Yes, there are that many. They then surveyed gym goers to help them rank which ones were the most infuriating, and you’ll probably agree with the top ten.
Of the 1,246 participants, 86% agreed that someone choosing the machine next to you despite all the others being free was the most irritating. This was closely followed by 82% of gym-goers finding people that stand and wait for you to finish on a piece of equipment or machine almost as annoying. Same.
It also found that 8 in 10 people aren’t happy about people that try to ‘reserve’ machines or equipment, and 77% said loud grunters got under their skin.
Other annoyances include people that come over and ask how many reps you have left, people that listen to music without headphones, not putting equipment away, people watchers, people that take loud phone calls and people that spit in the water fountain. Gross.
But all very understandable, right? Well, the survey also found some slightly more unusual gym pet peeves include strangers that try to compete with you, people that video themselves working out and couples that grope each other in between workouts.
One way to avoid these annoyances, however, is to head home and watch Netflix instead. Just a suggestion.