6 Advice for Women To Keep In Mind To Have a Better Vaginal Health
Vaginal health is an important part of overall health. However, vaginal health is often shrouded 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 odors are normal, and which ones are not? Here’s a guide to help with issues you might have about vaginal health.
Basics About a Women’s Genital Organs
- The outside genital organs are the vulva. The parts of the vulva include the mons pubis, labia majora/minora and the clitoris. The clitoris is an area with sensitive tissue that’s associated with sexual arousal.
- The opening from where you urinate is called the urethra. It’s directly above the vaginal opening and below the clitoris.
- The vagina itself is actually inside your body. It’s a tube that connects the external genital organs with the internal genital organs, which include the cervix and uterus.
- The vagina is lubricated by what are called the Bartholin glands.
- The cervix is the entrance to the uterus that opens when you give birth.
- The uterus is what carries a baby. When you have your period, your body sheds a lining from the uterus called the endometrium.
A healthy vagina has a balance of good bacteria and low pH. A pH level indicates how acidic or alkaline something is. The vagina is usually acidic. If the pH is too high, it can make you more vulnerable to vaginal infections.
Importance of Vaginal Health
Sexual problems and vaginal health problems that recur can have an impact on your self esteem and affect relationships. Recurring problems, such as a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis, can lead to chronic pain in the vaginal area. Certain vaginal problems can be signs of other whole body health problems. For instance, if the labia or the clitoris are becoming smaller, these can be signs of hormone deficiencies, maintaining good vaginal health is also important for keeping sperm alive if you’re trying to get pregnant.
6 Advice for Women Vaginal Health
1. 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 water. Avoid douching. 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 loofah, which can be full of bacteria. If you’re on your period, make sure to change your tampon or pad regularly avoid using the same one all day. Make sure to pee after sex to get rid of bacteria before it reaches the bladder, making you more prone to infection.You can maintain pubic hair per your personal preference. However, if you decide to shave it, use a clean razor and unscented, natural shaving cream to lessen the chance of an injury.
2. Stick to cotton underwear
Good old cotton allows your vaginal area to breathe. By contrast, synthetic materials tend to promote moisture and increase the chances of a yeast infection. 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 be free of moisture produced during the day.
3. Don’t stress over normal vaginal odor
Vaginal odor is usually a mix 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 odor, but that doesn’t mean anything is wrong. A more fishy smell is often linked to an overgrowth of bad bacteria that lowers the pH in the vagina and makes it less conducive to bad bacteria. If an over the counter product doesn’t help after a few applications, you should see an OB/GYN. Several health issues could cause an odor.
4. A foreign body
This happens more with girls, who may insert something in their vaginal area like a small toy but not remove it entirely. There also may be times when a tampon or part of a tampon may get stuck.A yeast infection, a common infection caused by a fungus called Candida albicans, can be caused by pregnancy, uncontrolled diabetes or antibiotic use. Some treatments for yeast infections are available over the-counter, while other requires a prescription. All of these issues usually have other symptoms, including discharge or burning and itching with trichomoniasis.
5. Eat right and stay hydrated.
What you eat can affect your vaginal health. 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. Fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidants. You can find probiotics in fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut and tempeh.
There also are probiotic supplements geared toward vaginal health, some of which are taken orally and others that are used as a suppository that dissolves in the vaginal area. A vaginal-geared probiotic may be useful if you’re prone to infections or if you’re using antibiotics, which can also affect the balance of bacteria in your vagina.
6. 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 primary care doctor or OB/GYN. 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, odor 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.