For ladies, better vaginal health is an important part of overall health. However, vaginal health is often shrouded (covered) in mystery and a little confusion.
How do you keep your vaginal area clean? What can make it prone to infection? What types of vaginal odours are normal, and which ones are not? Here’s a guide to help address questions you might have about vaginal health.
8 Tips For Better Vaginal Health
- Keep Cleaning Simple
You’ve probably heard of different ways to keep your vaginal area clean. The best ways to stay clean down there are simple. Keep your vaginal area clean by washing it daily with unscented soap and clean water.
Avoid douching (Douche usually refers to rinsing of the vagina). That’s because douching may actually disrupt the balance of good bacteria present in your vagina.
Scented soaps also can disrupt your vaginal environment. When cleaning, don’t put soap directly in your vagina, and don’t scrub your vaginal area hard with a sponge or loofah, which can be full of bacteria.
- Stick To Cotton Underwear
Good cotton allows your vaginal area to breathe. By contrast, synthetic materials tend to promote moisture and increase the chances of a yeast infection.
Plain white cotton underwear that is not too tight is preferable because dyes in clothing can irritate the sensitive tissue in the vaginal area.
If your underwear or other clothes near the vaginal area get wet, change out of them. The wetness can promote yeast infections.
At night, avoid wearing underwear. This helps the vulva and vagina to be free of moisture produced during the day.
- Don’t Stress Over Normal Vaginal Odour
Vaginal odour is usually a combination of the normal smell your vagina gives off and the smell from your normal discharge.
Diet changes, recent sex and your period all can change that odour, but that doesn’t mean anything is wrong.
- Proceed With Caution When Using Any New Products
Sexual lubricants and condoms may have ingredients that irritate the vaginal area.
When you buy new products that will be used in the vaginal area, read the ingredients to make sure you aren’t allergic to something, such as latex in condoms.
- Expect Hormonal-Related Changes
When you enter menopause or perimenopause (the period of time before menopause), your estrogen levels usually decrease.
That can make it harder for the vaginal area to maintain its normal environment and can lead to dryness.
Vaginal dryness can cause pain during sex or exercises like biking, as well as burning, itching and increased risk of an infection.
- Exercise Regularly, Including Exercises That Help Your Pelvic Floor
There are certain exercises that can keep your pelvic floor toned. Your pelvic floor includes muscles, tissue and ligaments that support the organs in your pelvis, including your bladder, cervix, uterus and vagina.
- Eat Right And Stay Hydrated
What you eat can affect your vaginal health. Are you aware that new eating plans and overindulging can make it difficult for your vagina to self-regulate, making you more susceptible to infection?
Foods that are rich in antioxidants and probiotics (good bacteria) can help balance vaginal pH, inhibit infections and ease PMS (Premenstrual syndrome). Fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidants.
You can find probiotics in fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut and tempeh.
- Know When To See A Doctor
Although some vaginal problems can be managed with over-the-counter products, there are times when you need to see a DOCTOR.
This includes if you have:
- Abnormal bleeding
- A change in odor and unexplained itching
- A fever or abdominal pain along with vaginal symptoms
- A mass or bulge in the vaginal area
- Bladder leakage
- Burning when you pee
- Chronic itching that isn’t associated with an infection
- Discharge, odour or itchiness when you have a new sexual partner
- Dryness that leads to discomfort
- Heavy periods along with severe pain and vomiting that result in missed days from school or work. This could be a sign of a period-related problem called endometriosis
- If you think you are pregnant.