It seems like every week we learn about crazy new ways to take care of our Vaginas - From soaking tampons in probiotics or crushing up garlic and sticking it up where they shouldn't be (please don't do this) all in an attempt to feel “clean” and keep our “delicate flowers” in balance.
Look, I think we are all for getting rid of unusual vaginal odors, itch and the overall uncomfortable feeling that comes with common infections like Bacterial Vaginosis, Yeast Infections, and UTIs – but vulvar care can’t be accomplished with wellness remedies that don’t have any clear evidence that they actually work.
The same way that you have preferences over the food you eat or the clothes you wear, your vagina has a preference for things like what underwear you should wear and what kind of products to use. And just like how we are prone to losing our tempers during menstruation, so can our vaginas react poorly when it doesn’t get the things it needs.
Every time your vagina feels a bit out of whack, you could experience vaginal infections such as Bacterial Vaginosis, Yeast Infections, and UTIs. These infections are also accompanied by unusual vaginal discharge with an unusual smell, itching, and burning. If you’re sexually active, then trust us, it’s better to keep your V happy so it doesn’t hulk out.
10 things you can do to keep your vagina healthy
1. Your vagina needs to breathe!
You know all those cosmetic commercials we now see about products that help your skin “breathe”, well the same applies to your vulva and vagina.
(Common, but not so common fact — The part of your vagina visible when you look down is actually called vulva and vagina is the inner cavity, which leads to the uterus)
Underwear that is made out of silk, satin or nylon, etc. locks the moisture inside the material, keeping the underwear damp and more moisture in the area. This damp, dark environment provides optimal conditions for the growth of the harmful bacteria that leads to the common infections we are trying to avoid. It has been studied that Bacterial Vaginosis, vaginal Yeast Infections, and PID are more common in women who prefer fancier and shinier underwear. Remember! Not all that glitters is gold!
Also, it’s important to change out of wet damp clothes after a session at Barry Bootcamp, soul cycle or orange theory. Don’t go running errands or go to work, get home first, clean off, and then go own the day.
Your vagina will love you for choosing underwear that is made out of cotton and changing them more often. They are light, breathable and they absorb moisture, too.
2. Playing it safe!
If you like to have fun in bed with your toys, then just make sure you’re considering the long-term happiness of your vagina, too.
Choosing the right sex toy made of the right material and ensuring tht they are clean before and after use is vital to keeping infections away.
Soft and rubbery sex toys are usually made out of PVC material, which may irritate your vaginal skin, may be hard to clean and can lead to discomfort and infections. It’s better to use toys made of pure material (silicone, or elastomers) rather than mesh.
Sharing is NOT even close to caring when it comes to sex toys, because it can lead to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). If you’re sexually active and have multiple sex partners then it’s very important to avoid sharing your sex toys.
3. Safer sex leads to a happier vagina!
If you’re monogamous, then taking care of your vagina won’t be a biggie, but problems may arise when you have multiple sex partners. In that case, safer sex is the only option to enjoy both good vaginal health and good sex life.
Don’t forget to wrap up their penises with vaginal friendly condoms while having sex. Some women can be allergic to condoms containing latex, so make sure to read the label before using it.
Washing your vagina with water or peeing immediately after sex keeps your vaginal health on track. This is because the pH of semen is basic (or higher) in nature which can throw the vagina’s pH balance off track. As soon as the pH level increases above 4.5, you’re prone to getting infections
4. Overcleaning or douching is not-so vagina friendly!
Do you believe that regular douching will make your vagina smell like roses and keep it clean? If your answer is yes, then we need to start at the basics.
Your vagina is capable of cleaning itself naturally!
Feminine products intended for vaginal cleansing and washing are loaded with chemicals that have detrimental effects on vaginal health. They not only disrupt the vaginal pH but also wash off the good bacteria, thus making it a risk factor for developing infections. Avoid using scented soaps, shampoos and especially douching because an innumerable number of studies have clearly indicated that douching can trigger BV or increase the chances of reoccurrence.
However, you can clean your vulva, the vaginal opening you see on the outside. You can clean it with warm water or maybe scrub it gently with a soft loofah. Feminine cleansers for douching are not needed.
5. Drink as much water as you can!
Low estrogen levels, insufficient water intake, and the use of harsh chemicals can make your vagina as dry as the Sahara. If vaginal dryness continues for longer duration it will not only itch, but also burn and cause pain and discomfort during sex.
Given the fact that your vagina is extremely sensitive from the inside-out, it’s better to be on the safe side and drink at least 7-8 glasses of water a day. This will ensure a sufficient level of vaginal moisture and lubrication.
Drinking more water will not only keep it lubricated but also free from the risk of any infections. For example, the best treatment for UTIs is literally washing the bacteria away (but some cranberry always helps as well). This is because dehydration leads to variation in the vaginal pH levels, leading to an exacerbation of a yeast or bacterial infection.
6. Schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN!
Unusually thick or thin discharge, odor, or stains on your underwear are a few of the signs indicating it’s time to visit your gyno!
And if you really want to step up your vaginal health game, it’s better to schedule an appointment at least once in a three to four-month time period. Pregnant women, women who have irregular menstrual cycles, and those experiencing menopausal symptoms are highly likely to suffer from hormonal imbalance. Low estrogen levels can also lead to vaginal atrophy (thinning and drying of the vaginal walls). Therefore, it’s important to get your estrogen levels checked.
An OB/GYN appointment doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to undergo any physical exam. You can talk about your periods, discharge, fertility, and other vaginal topics and get true insight from a medical professional.
Lastly, and this is most important, don’t prepare your vagina for the visit, just leave it be and allow the doctor to examine as is.
7. Surprise! Bald is not advisable!
Most of the girls try dozens of tips and tricks to get rid of their pubic hair. We understand the urge to have a cleaner and neater look, but pubes exist for a reason, ladies! Remember the concept of nasal hair and how they prevent the entry of foreign particles into your nose? Pubic hair works the same way.
They prevent bacteria, dirt or other foreign perky bacteria from entering the vagina by trapping them. Therefore, a bald vagina is more prone to getting infected. They also trap pheromones (a substance that can lure and drive your male partner crazy).
But we get it, cleaning up is important, so we recommend trimming the pubes rather than waxing or shaving them.
8. Let’s get physical!
It might sound new to most of us but just like your body needs exercise to stay in good shape, so does your vagina. Fitness gurus usually suggest squats, situps, and planks to strengthen your pelvic floor. Although these exercises are good for your core muscles, your vagina needs something tougher!
Kegel exercises can be beneficial for your pelvic muscles, rectum, small intestine, and uterus. They tighten and strengthen the muscles of your vagina.
The right way to do them is to identify the pelvic muscles while peeing. To do this, the next time you pee, try stopping it mid-stream. Feel that part of your body squeezing the urine to an immediate stop, that’s the pelvic floor.
The best part of Kegels, you can do them anywhere! At home, in the office or in your next uber ride.
To start strengthening, just hold the Kegel for few seconds and then breathe. Repeat them in sets, increasing the time and reps as you get better at them.
9. Antibiotics can be anti-probiotics, too!
Many doctors prefer antibiotics as the first choice of treatment when it comes to addressing BV and other infections. However, the lesser-known fact is that most of the antibiotics non-selectively kill both bad and good bacteria.
Once your vaginal probiotics are depleted, you’re likely to suffer from recurring Bacterial Vaginosis. MDedge ObGyn suggests that a single course of antibiotics might result in the recurrence of the infection.
Short-term benefits, in this case, might lead to long-term suffering for you and your sex partner. So, it’s better to avoid taking conventional antibiotics and go for more herbal or natural remedies.
And if you do need to take an antibiotic, make sure to take a probiotic that is resistant to the antibiotic you are taking. All good probiotics should have clinical data to share proving it’s efficacy and benefits, like Happy V’s Probiotic.
10. Nail your wiping technique!
I’m sorry to break it to all the girls out there, but you might be wiping the wrong way! Why are the boys exempted from this? Well, that’s because the distance between their penis and anus is longer than women. Unfortunately for girls, the distance between their anus, vagina, and urethra is just a few inches.
If you’re habitual of wiping from back to front, you might be sweeping in all the bacteria and infectious agents right into your vagina and urethra. You shouldn’t be doing that because it not only increases the chance of you getting bacterial infections but also UTIs. A study performed on 200 women in Turkey showed that behavioral factors can predict vaginal infections. These factors include cleaning using your bare hand, the wrong wiping technique, not changing your underwear often and more.
Nail your new wiping technique i.e. from front to back and wash afterwards with water to ensure 100% removal of stool and bacteria.
So there you have it – 10 simple habits you change to ensure you are keeping your Vagina clean any pseudoscience or unproven methods. If you have great insight, join in on the conversation and drop a comment below!