A Guide on How to Keep Your Vagina Healthy
Have you ever taken a good look at your vagina? If you haven’t, you should grab a mirror and take a long and hard look. Studies show that more than 40% of women have problems identifying their reproductive parts, and this gap in knowledge poses a problem. Keeping your vagina healthy requires that you know your vagina so that you can pay attention to cues and quickly detect any changes in its health. If you need a resource to help you understand and protect your vagina health, this blog post is for you. Read on!
Know Your Vagina
The vagina is technically a muscular tube connecting the uterus to the outside of the body. It lies between the urethra and the rectum, the former being the opening of the urinary tract. The vagina’s exterior is called the vulva and houses the clitoris, the vaginal opening, the labia majora, and the labia minora. The labia majora are made up of fatty tissues and are the vagina’s outer “lips.” The labia minora are the inner “lips” within it that are made of thin layers of tissue. The clitoris is located on top of the labia minora and brings sexual pleasure. The vagina opens between the labia minora, and this opening is where discharge, menstrual blood, and babies pass through. The inside of the vagina is made up of several layers of tissue. It is home to a diverse community of bacteria that help to maintain a healthy balance and protect against infection.
With this information in mind, you should wash your hands, get a mirror and get familiar. This will help you become comfortable with your vagina and know when something is off.
What Does A Healthy Vagina Look Like?
The vagina is pretty distinct in appearance for every woman. No two vaginas are exactly the same, meaning there is no generic look your vagina should take. The vagina is shaped in distinct ways, labias have different lengths, and the color depends on your skin tone. In terms of health, however, these specific markers show whether or not a vagina is healthy:
A healthy vagina has a healthy balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria. The pH of a healthy vagina is less than or 4.5, and the factors that affect this, including hormones and lactobacilli production, are subject to change. This means that the balance of the vagina’s bacteria is very delicate and can be easily offset. A high vaginal pH suggests that the vagina is less acidic. When this happens, the balance of microbes that protect the vagina from bacteria and maintain perfect vaginal health is lost. Some major factors that cause this imbalance include unsafe sex, douching, antibiotic use, and inadequate and improper hygiene habits.
A healthy vagina mostly has a slight smell and a reasonable amount of discharge depending on your age, menstrual cycle, and overall health. Discharge is natural and helps cleanse the vagina and keep it healthy.
If you are concerned about the appearance, odor, or discharge of your vagina, you should see a doctor to get a proper evaluation. The reasons for the changes you have noticed will be explained, and you will get treatment if necessary.
Signs and Symptoms of an Unhealthy Vagina
How can you tell if your vagina is unhealthy? Here are some signs that suggest that there is most likely a problem:
- You are experiencing an unusual discharge that is thick, has an abnormal consistency, and has a strong smell. It could be a sign of infection.
- Your vagina has a smell that is not typical. If it has a fishy or rotten-like smell, you may have an infection.
- Your vagina is irritated and itchy; this could be a sign of infection or exposure to irritation
- You feel discomfort when urinating. This is usually a sign of a urinary tract infection.
- Sex is painful for you; this could be a sign of infection or another underlying problem.
- You are noticing lumps, rashes, redness, or swelling. This is unusual and may be a sign of a sexually transmitted disease
If you are experiencing any of the above, do not hesitate to contact your doctor. You will be prescribed medication and given advice to help bring your vagina back to good health.
Whether or not you have the symptoms above, the tips listed below will help you protect your vagina and keep it healthy.
How to Take Care of Our Vagina
- Maintain good hygiene habits
Good hygiene is vital to keep the vagina healthy. The vagina is susceptible to bacterial and fungal growth when it is unclean and moist. While the vagina itself is self-cleaning, the vagina area should be washed with water and mild soap. Do not fall for the product ads that promise they clean out the vagina, as these products could strip you of the healthy bacteria the vagina needs for a healthy balance. Avoid using heavily scented soaps and keep bubble baths to a minimum, as these can irritate your vagina. Do not forget to wipe from front to back after using the bathroom to avoid the spread of bacteria from the anus to the vagina. Douching is also an old wives fable that is not as great as you think; it can alter the balance of bacteria in your vagina and increase the risk of infection. You should not douche.
- Dress comfortably
Clothes that fit too tightly trigger a moist environment around the vagina, creating a breeding ground for bacteria. As these organisms thrive in such conditions, wearing tight-fitting clothes puts you at risk of infection. The chafing and irritation it causes can also be pretty uncomfortable and shade inflammation. Overall, tight clothes are not the best idea for vaginal health. Instead, wear breathable clothing so the vagina can stay cool and dry. Cotton underwear remains an excellent choice as it is breathable and absorbs moisture, as opposed to silk and other such materials that trap moisture against the skin. Also, remember to change out of workout clothes and wet swimsuits as soon as you can.
- Always practice safe sex
The vagina is highly reactive, and even before the risk of sexually transmitted infections, things like the exchange of body fluids or objects can offset the bacteria balance of the vagina and affect vaginal health. Safe sex is your best bet against the rather severe symptoms that these and STIs can bring your way. STIs put you at risk of more serious health problems if left untreated. It is best to use condoms, dental dams, and such to limit the risk of STIs. Safe sex will help protect the health of your vagina and overall reproductive health.
- Healthy diet
A healthy diet is vital to maintain the health of your vagina. A balanced diet maintains your body’s immunity against infections and can help your vagina’s pH. An unhealthy diet of overly processed foods with low nutrients may increase the risk of infections. Your diet affects your vagina, so ensure you prioritize healthy eating. Yogurt should be a staple in your meal plan as it is a good source of probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that can help maintain the balance of bacteria in the vagina. Staying hydrated is also essential for the health of the vagina and overall health; drinking plenty of water can help flush out toxins and maintain healthy vaginal secretions.
- Seek help from the doctor
If you experience symptoms such as abnormal discharge, itching, or pain, you should consult your primary care provider. They are better placed to diagnose and treat any vagina-related issue you may have. You can get screened, get vaccines and get advice on maintaining your vaginal health. You can ask questions about sexual health, reproductive health, and birth control. Regular and timely visits to your doctor will save you a lot of trouble.
The vagina is a delicate organ and should be treated as such. It is self-cleaning, but the outer area that is exposed is not. With proper hygiene, a good diet, safe sex practices, and regular screenings, your vaginal health will be easy to maintain.