A lot of women worry about their vaginas: does it smell weird? Should it look like that? What about that weird discharge? But here’s the most important thing you need to know about your vagina: it’s designed to keep itself clean with the help of natural secretions.
If you want a clean vagina, there’s actually no need for you to use external products like douches, washes or wipes – in fact, these can cause more harm than good. A healthy vagina is maintained best through being in good general health.
Vagina care: 4 things you need to stop doing right now
A balanced, nutritious diet is essential to a healthy vaginal and reproductive system, as is drinking plenty of water. You should also consider adding the following to your diet, as they’ve been shown to aid in treating vaginal health issues:
- Cranberry juice: anyone who’s ever suffered from UTIs (urinary tract infections) knows that cranberry juice is a superfood. It’s packed with acid compounds that fight bad bacteria and help treat and relieve the symptoms of UTI. Always choose a natural, sugar-free variety.
- Probiotics: these boost the good bacteria in your system to help maintain healthy pH levels and fight things like vaginal thrush. Find probiotics in yoghurt, gherkins, kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut and kombucha tea.
- Avocados, apples, flaxseeds and water: each of these is full of vitamins, but they also help you stay naturally lubricated, as does soy.
Staying fit keeps you healthy in general, which as you know is the key to vagina health. But what sort of exercise is best? Regular walking and running help to tone the pelvic floor while also boosting your overall wellbeing, so start stepping!
3.Having unprotected sex
This is one of the worst things you could do to your vagina and your body in general, as you’re exposing yourself to a range of sexually transmitted diseases like HIV, genital herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea, genital warts and chlamydia. Some of these, like HIV and genital herpes, have no cure, while others, like the human papillomavirus (which causes genital warts) can cause cervical cancer and/or lead to other diseases.
Here’s how to get safe sex right: use a new condom every time you have sex; use a new condom when switching from oral or anal sex to vaginal sex; use a condom every time you have sex with someone you aren’t monogamous with and/or fluid-bonded with; use dental dams when performing oral sex, and read these great posts on Safe oral sex methods that don’t suck and Sexy activities with less risk and lots of reward.
4.Not having regular pap smears
Going for regular well-woman check-ups, which include a pap smear, is critical to maintaining a healthy vagina and picking up any issues early on while they can be easily addressed or treated.
Every woman should start going to the gynae from the age of 21 or within three years of becoming sexually active. These check-ups are relatively quick and easy, and they’ll help to diagnose illnesses or disorders that could harm your vagina or reproductive system. Pap smears, meanwhile, detect the presence of cancerous or pre-cancerous cells, and hence you should have one every single year to stay safe and healthy.
The number one thing to do (right now) for a healthier, happier, fresher vagina
Book an appointment at your nearest Marie Stopes centre to make sure you’re in the best possible health. We offer HIV and STI screening and management, pap smears, contraceptive advice and complete women’s wellness exams. All our services are offered by highly trained and caring staff, and all your information is kept private and confidential.