When it comes to taking care of your vagina, there is absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about. The vagina didn’t exactly come with a handbook or manual on how it should be taken care of, but experience from menstruation, having sex, birthing a baby, and visiting of the gynaecologist would have made you master your vagina very well and how to care for it.
Keeping the vagina in a healthy state is an act every woman should prioritize because there are no doubts that maintaining a healthy vagina will help to prevent infections and discomfort. In our previous article, we outlined home remedies for Vaginal yeast infection.
The vagina should be properly cared for in other not to attract bad bacteria that cause infection. Unfortunately, there are seemingly harmless habits that can get your vagina angry and have a serious impact on everything starting from your sex life. According to Mayo Clinic, the following factors can affect the health of your vagina…
- Having unprotected sex with a new partner. This can result in contracting sexually transmitted infections that might cause infertility.
- Excessive usage of antibiotics. This will lead to a yeast infection that makes the vagina inflamed, swollen, or itchy.
- Changes in hormone levels: The decline of estrogen production after menopause and during breast-feeding causes vaginal lining to become thinner resulting in painful sex.
- Birth control & feminine hygiene products that might cause vaginal irritations, leaving a tampon in the vagina for more than eight hours.
Apart from the above factors that change the health of the vagina, most women of all ages deal with uncomfortable vaginal odour and yeast infections. The vagina naturally produces clear or white discharge. The mucus discharge which is produced from the neck of the cervix is not always a bad sign, so there is no need to freak out over it.
Also, during ovulation, the discharge usually becomes thicker and stretchy like raw egg white. This healthy discharge doesn’t have a strong smell or colour. You may notice uncomfortable wetness but no itchiness and sores around the vulva.
Generally, good vagina health is maintained by making sure you are in good health. This includes a good diet and exercise. Read our article on vaginal yeast infection for foods that are good for vagina pH balance.
Here are the essential tips for a healthy vagina.
Avoid douching: Douching is washing or cleaning out the inside of the vagina with water or mixtures of fluids. The mixtures usually come in a bottle or bag. The douche is squirted into the vagina through a tube or nozzle. The water mixture then comes back through the vagina.
Douching is different from washing the outside of your vagina during bath or shower. Rinsing the outside of your vagina is not harmful. Most gynaecologists recommend that women should not douche; this is because the vagina cleanses itself naturally in the form of normal discharge. Douching can upset the natural balance of the organisms in the vagina.
Cotton underwear: When it comes to this, the vagina has a preference. COTTON. This is why most undies have cotton at the crotch. Cotton lets air in and absorbs moisture. Wear only cotton pants and/or underwear. Avoid wearing nylon or other fibres especially if you have delicate skin or prone to vulva irritations.
Wash new underclothes before wearing them. Rinse underwear very well with clean water, double-rinse where necessary, and avoid using too much detergent. It is also advisable to iron your undies after leaving them outside to dry.
Practice safe sex: Some bacteria and viruses can get into the vagina during sex. These include bugs that cause Chlamydia, gonorrhoea, genital herpes and warts, syphilis and HIV. You can protect the vagina by having sex with only your trusted partner or use a condom if this is not the case
Perfumed soaps: It is a good idea to avoid using soaps, gels, and antiseptics on your vagina as these can affect the healthy balance of bacteria and pH levels in the vagina which might cause irritation. Use plain water to wash the vagina area, the vagina will clean itself naturally through natural vagina discharge.
Avoid using tampons for extensive periods: if you use tampons during menstruation, ensure that you don’t leave it for a long period of time, more than eight hours. This might cause toxic shock syndrome– a condition caused by certain strains of bacteria that produce toxins, this condition is rare but life-threatening.
Anal sex? Ensure that you don’t go from anal to vaginal sex without changing condoms. Going from the backdoor to the front exposes your vagina to a host of bacteria and can increase your chance of getting an infection.
Do Kegel exercises regularly: This exercise is also known as pelvic floor exercise. It involves repeatedly contracting and relaxing the muscles that form part of the pelvic floor. These exercises help to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles which then help to reduce strain on your pelvic organs, improves bladder and bowel functions. Most importantly, makes your orgasms very strong.
Don’t overuse antibiotics: unnecessary antibiotics can significantly reduce vaginal health. This is because antibiotics do not discriminate. They kill both the good and bad bacteria which can change the colony of the healthy bacteria in your vagina causing yeast and other infections to grow.
Always use warm water to wash the vulva. This is the area of the female sex organ that lies outside the vagina. Vulva care aims to keep it dry and free from irritants.
Most women at one point in time, experience uncomfortable vaginal infections even while taking adequate care of their vagina. No one intentionally invites the bad infection-causing bacteria. All vaginal infections are treated differently especially if the infections are not responding to home remedies.
If you have concerns about your vaginal health or notice an unusual vaginal discharge and/or odour, it is best to consult your gynaecologist for proper diagnosis and treatment. Also, an annual examination of the vagina by a doctor is advisable in other to ensure that your vagina is in great condition at all times.