A healthy vagina is vital to a woman’s confidence and overall wellbeing. The good news is that you don’t need any special lotions, potions or expensive care to keep it feeling great!
Here are five simple, important things to do to maintain a fresh, healthy vagina.
1. Wear cotton underwear
Ever wondered why panties have that thin strip of cotton lining the crotch? It’s because cotton is the ideal fabric for a healthy vagina. Cotton is breathable and it absorbs moisture. And here’s a pro tip: if you’re having a lazy day at home, go commando. It gives your nether regions a chance to air out and breathe free.
2. Don’t douche
Douching – spraying or showering your vagina with water or vaginal products – can interfere with the natural pH levels down there, reducing the acidity of your vagina and creating the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive. If your vagina has a strong or unpleasant odour, douching will only cover it up, and not fix the problem. You need to see a doctor. Also be sure to avoid using harsh soaps or cleansers on the vulva or inside the vagina, as they too can throw off the delicate pH balance.
3. Maintain a healthy diet
Believe it or not, what you put into your body can affect the health of your vagina, which means that a balanced, nutritious diet, as well as drinking plenty of water, is key to good vaginal and reproductive health. Some foods may even be effective in treating vaginal issues: Cranberry juice and yogurt may help stave off yeast infections, or aid in their treatment. And, if you experience vaginal dryness, chat to your doctor about including more soy in your diet. Soy contains a weak form of oestrogen that can promote natural lubrication.
4. Always practice safe sex
One of the quickest ways to destroy the health of your vagina is by contracting a sexually transmitted disease – some of which are incurable. That’s why it’s critical that you use a condom every time you have sex. This protects you against STIs like HIV, HPV (which can cause warts to form in and around your vagina), syphilis, gonorrhoea, genital warts and chlamydia. HPV can also lead to cervical cancer – one of the deadliest forms of cancer. And remember: you need to change condoms when switching from oral or anal sex to vaginal sex, in order to prevent harmful bacteria from being introduced into the vagina.
5. Go for regular check-ups
Having regular ‘well woman’ exams is crucial to maintaining a healthy vagina. Every woman should have her first well woman exam by the age 21 or within three years of becoming sexually active.
You can have these check-ups at your gynae or any Marie Stopes centre across SA. Some family physicians are also trained to perform these exams, and they’re essential for diagnosing illnesses or disorders that could harm your vagina or your reproductive system as a whole. A vital part of these check-ups is your annual pap smear, which can aid in the early detection of cancer. Read more about the importance of pap smears and why they’re the one health check every woman needs to have regularly.
Ready to give your vagina a health makeover? Start now! Book a woman’s wellness check-up at Marie Stopes – they’re painless and totally confidential – or read more about pap smears and what to expect at your appointment.