Leading a healthy lifestyle isn’t just about eating right and getting regular exercise. For us ladies, maintaining our vaginal health is an essential part of our overall well-being. Vaginal health can sometimes be confusing because of conflicting or unclear information. We’re here to help so we’ve compiled a list of top tips for maintaining vaginal health.
Understanding the Basics: Vagina vs Vulva
First of all let’s find out the difference between the vagina and the vulva, as these terms are often mistakenly used interchangeably.
This refers to the external part of the female genitalia which includes the pubic mound, clitoris, labia, and the opening to the vagina, as well as the urethra. It serves as a protective barrier for these sensitive areas.
This is an internal organ that serves as a connection between the vulva and the cervix, and ultimately, the uterus. It is the channel that allows for menstrual flow and childbirth.
Our understanding of these distinct areas is not just a matter of semantics. It’s essential for maintaining optimal vaginal health. Different parts of the female genitalia have different needs and can have various health issues.
Ten Top Tips for Maintaining Vaginal Health
1. Prioritize a Healthy Lifestyle
A healthy lifestyle is the foundation of maintaining vaginal health. This involves a balanced diet, regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight.
Healthy Diet and Regular Exercise
A nutritious diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and other healthful foods is essential for overall health, including vaginal health. Foods like cranberries, apples, avocados, and dark leafy greens can contribute to a healthy vaginal environment. Fermented foods like Greek yogurt, sauerkraut, and kombucha are excellent sources of beneficial probiotics, which help maintain a balanced vaginal pH level.
Regular exercise is very important. 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least four days a week promotes cardiovascular health and this supports the health of your reproductive system.
Specific exercises like Kegels can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, preventing the bladder and uterus from drooping into the vagina with age.
2. Regular Health Check-ups
Regular health check-ups with your GP or OB/GYN are crucial for early detection of any potential health issues. These examinations can include Pap smears to check for signs of cervical cancer, tests for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and infections (STIs), and breast cancer screenings.
Annual exams provide an opportunity to discuss any changes you’ve noticed in your body or any sensitive topics related to your sexual health. Regular appointments with your healthcare provider are an essential part of maintaining optimal vaginal health.
3. Avoid Douching
Your vagina is a self-cleaning organ, and using harsh cleansers or douching can disrupt its delicate pH balance, leading to yeast infections. The area around the vagina, the vulva, and the anus should be cleaned daily with warm water. While mild, unscented soaps should be fine, they aren’t necessary.
4. Choose Natural Lubricants
For those experiencing vaginal dryness, natural lubricants are often the best choice. Many over-the-counter lubricants are marketed as “natural” or “organic,” but it’s always a good idea to check their ingredients, especially if you have sensitive skin or are prone to allergies.
Natural oils like unrefined coconut oil, sweet almond oil, and avocado oil are excellent skin-friendly options. But they can degrade latex, so they shouldn’t be used with condoms.
Products like glycerin or Vaseline should be avoided as they can promote bacterial growth, leading to yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis.
5. Be Vigilant of Postmenopausal Bleeding
Postmenopausal bleeding, defined as any vaginal bleeding occurring a year or more after your last menstrual period, warrants further investigation. It can be caused by various factors, including the growth of polyps or fibroids, changes to the endometrial lining, and certain medications.
If you experience postmenopausal bleeding or bloody vaginal discharge, it’s crucial to contact your gynecologist as soon as possible.
6. Use Condoms
Condoms are the only form of birth control that also protects against sexually transmitted infections or diseases during vaginal sex. Using condoms during intercourse helps maintain a healthy level of good bacteria and slightly acidic pH in the vagina, which can be disrupted by alkaline sperm cells.
Be aware that condoms with added spermicides can cause irritation for some people. Condoms can also be used with sex toys like the Satisfyer Range to decrease cleanup. Remember always to use a new condom when switching between anal and vaginal sex.
7. Clothing Choices
Thongs may be a fashionable underwear choice, but they can also negatively impact women’s health. Many thongs are made from non-breathable synthetic fabrics that trap moisture and create an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive. Increasing the risk of infection and irritation.
The back part of thong fabric can host harmful E.coli bacteria that can reach the urethra and vagina. Increasing the likelihood of urinary tract infections (UTIs) or vaginal infections.
8. Understand the Importance of a Healthy Pelvic Floor
A strong pelvic floor is crucial for maintaining vaginal health. Pelvic organ prolapse, a condition characterized by one or more pelvic organs falling from their normal position and bulging into the vagina, is a risk associated with a weak pelvic floor.
While not life-threatening, pelvic organ prolapse can be uncomfortable and significantly impact your quality of life. It leads to difficulties emptying your bladder and potential nerve damage in the pelvic region.
Regular exercise, especially Kegel exercises, can help prevent this condition.
9. Opt for Cotton Underwear
Synthetic fabrics can trap bacteria against the skin in the pelvic region, potentially leading to vaginal yeast and urinary infections. Synthetic materials prevent the skin from breathing and cause moisture to accumulate in susceptible areas which can cause vaginal odour.
Cotton underwear, on the other hand, allows air to circulate and provides a surface to absorb the healthy vaginal discharge indicative of a self-cleaning organ.
Avoid staying in a wet swimsuit for too long, as this can disrupt your vagina’s pH balance and lead to a yeast infection.
10. Seek Medical Help When Needed
Taking charge of your sexual health is vital for maintaining overall health. Various life events such as pregnancy, aging, and stress can disrupt your body’s hormone levels. If you start experiencing unusual symptoms like sores, warts, or unusual discharge, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Finally, vaginal health is a critical aspect of overall well-being. Folow these top 10 tips, you’ll be well on your way to be vagilicious. Remember, a healthy vagina is high maintenance. It should look after itself. But be proactive and seek help whne you need it.