We often talk about taking good care of our bodies, exercising and eating healthy, but let’s face it – our vaginas aren’t always top of mind. But they really should be.
Practicing good vaginal health means less yeast infections and UTIs (urinary tract infections), no itchiness or irritations, and good, pain-free sex.
So in light of happy sweet spots, here are a few tips on feminine care for down there.
Say no to soap
Did you know your vagina has a specific pH balance? Anything that throws this off can make you prone to unpleasant infections.
Dr Lauren Streicher, a clinical associate professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Chicago North-Western University’s Feinberg School of Medicine explains the vagina’s normal pH is somewhere between a 3.5 and a 4.5. “pH is a number indicating acidity on a scale of 0 (acid) to 14. And, believe it or not, your vagina really does have an optimal pH. If it’s out of whack, you can develop odour, irritation, and even an infection,” says Dr Streicher. Astringent soaps can destroy this delicate environment of the “good” bacteria that give off lactic acid, which in turn will negatively affect a low vaginal pH.
“Instead of reaching for a bar of soap or body wash, opt for a pH balanced wash, preferably full of natural ingredients” she adds.
Give her room to breathe
A reminder, especially for gym and yoga loving ladies! According to Dr Jessica Shepherd, Ob/Gyn and women’s health expert in Chicago, yeast infections thrive in moist, warm places. Sweat and water create this kind of environment in your body, so the sooner you can change out of your swimsuit or workout clothes, the better.
Most gym and yoga pants are made from synthetic fabrics that keep warmth, humidity and sweat in. Great for your look, sadly not good for your vagina! This humidity is the perfect breeding ground for irritations to start, which may later lead to infections, so be sure to get out of your wet workout gear, pronto!
Use a water-based lube
Using a lubricant during sex prevents micro-tears in the urethra and vagina that contribute to infections, says Dr Lisa Lindley, an OB/Gyn in Rancho Mirage, California. She advises that petroleum-based products can actually irritate the area even more, so you’re better off with a water-based lubricant. In addition, keep an eye out for ingredients in your lube that aren’t good for your body. Glycerine, for one, is related to sugar. While it works great to keep lubes moist, it can also contribute to bacteria growth in the vagina.
Have a quick pee after sex
Dr Alan B. Copperman, vice chairman of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai explains that with women having a short urethra, there’s a shorter distance for bacteria to travel through the urethra to the bladder. “Sex is often associated with UTIs because sexual intercourse introduces bacteria through the urethra and into a woman’s urinary tract,” he says. Peeing after sex helps flush out bacteria before it can travel to the bladder. So before you have a blissful sleep, go take a pee.
See a doctor for recurring infections
Yeast infections are very common and nothing to be ashamed of. We all get them at one stage or another for a number of reasons. However, should you be experiencing them repeatedly, with over-the-counter medication only helping temporarily, there might be another problem that needs a doctor’s attention. Don’t leave symptoms to worsen. Visit your doctor so they can do the necessary tests, treat the problem, and let you get back to being happy and healthy.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day.