How to Keep Your Vagina Healthy
We all know tips and tricks for getting healthy hair and skin, but what about having a healthy vagina? Things like strong soaps or feminine hygiene sprays can actually do more harm than good. Knowing the right way to stay clean, choosing foods that will boost your vag health, and even exercising your vagina are all ways you can keep your vagina in tip top shape.
Read on to learn more about keeping your vagina healthy.
11 Tips for Vagina
(Vaginal Health – Tips)
It may seem counter-intuitive, but washing the inside of your vagina with soap, whether it’s bar soap or liquid, isn’t the best way to keep clean. The vagina actually stays quite clean on its own without the help of cleansers.
Like other parts of the body, the vagina has a pH level that needs to be maintained within a certain range – 3.5 and 4.5 – in order to prevent the growth of unhealthy bacteria and facilitate the growth of good bacteria. Using harsh cleansers can upset the balance, leading to infection, irritation, and even bad smells.
- People often refer to the entire area “down there” as the vagina, but remember that the vagina is actually the tube-like muscle located inside your body. The vulva, the skin outside the vagina, may be cleansed with no-frills/ natural bar soap, as long as you don’t find that it irritates your skin.
- Some women find that taking showers is optimal for them and that taking full baths causes them to have an increase in vaginal infections. Know your body, and if baths aren’t right for you, don’t take them! Just shower.
2. Don’t use douches or feminine sprays.
Douching with chemicals that are supposed to make your vagina smell like a field of flowers actually ends up having quite the opposite effect. They wash out all the healthy bacteria that helps your vagina stay clean, infection-free, and smelling fresh on its own!
The chemicals left behind by douches can cause irritation and even burning, and the same goes for feminine sprays.
- Scented creams marketed as a way to change the smell of your vagina can cause the same problems, so these should also be avoided. The same goes for scented pads and tampons and scented wipes.
- If you feel like you absolutely have to use a scent on your vagina, go for something completely natural and chemical free. You can make your own body spray by mixing a few drops of an essential oil like rose water, lavender, or lemongrass with water in a spray bottle. Use the body spray after showering, and make sure you’re completely dry before getting dressed.
3. Have good hygiene during your period.
Many women experience an increased rate of vaginal infection when they’re menstruating, since having blood in the vagina as well as a foreign object – a tampon – changes its pH and sometimes throws things out of balance. To stay healthy during your period, practice the following habits:
- Change your tampon frequently. Tampons absorb menstrual blood, and if you leave them in too long, you’re keeping the blood in your vagina where it can change your pH. Make sure you change your tampon every few hours to keep this from happening.
- Don’t use pads or panty liners for longer than necessary. Wearing pads and panty liners all month long, or after your period is over, can lead to skin irritation.
- Consider getting a menstrual cup. These rubber cups are inserted in the vagina to catch the blood, then rinsed out with hot water every few hours. Menstrual cups are a chemical-free choice for handling your period, and they can be really helpful if you tend to get irritated by tampons and pads. The main reason why many women like the menstrual cup is because it is environmentally friendly!
4. Wipe from front to back.
It’s important to wipe from front to back, rather than the reverse, to keep fecal matter from entering your vagina and causing an infection.
Use plain, unscented toilet paper to wipe. Avoid using wet wipes or any other product that contains perfumes and chemicals.
5. Wear cotton underwear.
Cotton underwear dries quickly and allows air to flow freely through the fabric. This prevents the development of damp conditions that promote the growth of yeast and unhealthy bacteria that might lead to an infection. Underwear made from synthetic fabrics, silk, lace, or other materials doesn’t breathe as well.
- If you like wearing underwear made from fabrics other than cotton, make sure the section of the underwear that will be touching your vagina has a cotton liner.
- If you tend to get a lot of vaginal infections, try picking underwear made from organic, un-dyed cotton that hasn’t been treated with any chemicals.
6. Wash after intercourse.
When you have intercourse, you’re opening yourself up to bacteria and other microscopic substances that can end up irritating your vagina and causing infection. The solution? Wash your vagina with warm water afterwards. This will greatly minimize the chance that your encounter will have an unpleasant after effect.
- Asking your partner to wash beforehand is also a good idea.
- Washing other body parts before can be helpful, too. If you’re especially prone to getting infections. Shower before to minimize the risk that you’ll end up with unhealthy bacteria in your body.
7. Pee after intercourse.
At the very least, pee after intercourse, even if you intend on washing, too. When you have intercourse, unwanted bacteria can travel up the urethra, which is connected to your bladder. Peeing afterwards can help flush the bacteria out of the vaginal area, promoting general health and helping you avoid those pesky urinary tract infections.
8. Do kegel exercises.
Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and the pubococcygeus muscle. These muscles tend to get looser and weaker with age and after giving birth. Strengthening them can help you avoid issues like urinary incontinence. To do kegel exercises, follow these steps:
- Locate your pelvic floor muscles. To do this, pretend you are stopping urinating in midstream. The muscles you use to stop are the ones you are targeting with kegels.
- Tighten the muscles and hold for three seconds, then release. Repeat this 15 times.
- Continue doing kegel exercises daily, holding for longer and adding more repetitions as you gain control.
9. Watch out for infections.
Any time you notice discharge with a fish-like odor, burning and itching, and a rash around the vulva, it is important to seek treatment immediately.
STDs such as HPV, chlamydia, genital warts, and others can cause long-term damage if left untreated. If you feel there’s a possibility you could have contracted an STD, make an appointment with your doctor or go to a health clinic. In many cases, you’ll be able to get free testing.
10. Know your vagina.
Many women aren’t familiar with the way their vaginas look and feel, so they aren’t aware when something changes. Every vagina is different, and it’s important to know how your vagina normally looks, feels, and smells so that when something changes, you’ll notice and seek medical attention if necessary. Go to the doctor if you notice a stark change in color, bumps, discharge that smells or looks different, or if you have pain in your vagina.
- If you experience irregular vaginal bleeding – small amounts of blood between periods, bleeding for weeks at a time, or soaking a maxi-pad an hour over the course of several hours – see your doctor. You could be suffering from a number of diseases or conditions.
- Be sure to get annual examinations with a physician as well as annual pap smears.
11. Remember, your vagina is sacred.
Most importantly, remember that your vagina is a sacred and vital part of you not to be abused or misused. Care for it accordingly with awareness and love.
(Adapted from How to Have a Healthy Vagina.)