Most women focus a lot on maintaining a youthful skin and start early with practices that would avoid aging badly. What we don’t realize is that our vagina ages the same as our skin. The importance of maintaining a healthy vagina cannot be stressed enough. Sadly, we live in a society where talking about the upkeep of female body parts is considered a taboo. So, most of our girls and women never learn how to best take care of this essential part of their body. This leads to multiple infections and diseases that can sometimes be fatal or lead to disabilities that affect the female’s entire life. However, keeping in mind a few things can help a great deal in avoiding any vaginal health problems. Here’s a blog with a few tips to Keep Your Vagina Happy and Healthy.
Vagina and Vulva
Let’s start by understanding the difference between the Vagina and the Vulva. Often people confuse the two terms and mistake them for the same thing. Although both Vagina and Vulva are around the same area, they have quite different anatomies. The vulva consists of all the parts of your genitalia that you can see on the outside. The labia majora, labia minora, clitoris, and other parts all consist the portion medically referred to as Vulva but mistakenly clubbed with Vagina. Vagina, on the other hand, is a connecting tube between the Vulva and the Uterus. This is the portion that receives the penis during sexual intercourse. When one talks about keeping their vagina clean, most of the time the reference is to the vulva. Throughout this blog we will be marking out the difference between the two parts as and when necessary. In other cases, the two will refer to the entire structure made up of both Vulva and Vagina.
Avoid Cleaning your Vagina
This is where you need to keep in mind the difference between vulva and vagina. The vagina has a self-cleaning mechanism which removes all bacteria and other harmful substances that threaten the sexual organs. The lactobacilli, which is a kind of bacteria present in the vagina, help to keep the track clean by discharging the harmful bacteria and dead cells out of the vulva. However, the vulva should be cleaned at least once every day with lukewarm water. This is because the remnants of urine or feces can cause harmful bacteria to grow and affect the parts of the vulva. Make sure that you use mild, fragrance-free glycerine soaps or emollient creams for this purpose and not any other fancy product available in the market. Many products claim to maintain the pH level of your genitalia which is a farce. Abnormal lactobacilli lead to abnormal pH and no product on the market can help that. Get gynecological help in a case like that. [Read: 9 Ways to recover after vaginal birth!]
You can avoid contacting a lot of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) if you use condoms. Also, it prevents against unwanted pregnancies, but you all know that already. Many of us feel that these are the only reasons to wear a condom and if our partner wears one, it will be the same. However, the female condoms protect us against a lot more than just that. It helps protect the lactobacilli in the vagina which as we have discussed above have a great deal to contribute to maintaining our vaginal health. The condoms help in maintaining the pH in the vagina which further provides a conducive environment for the growth and function of lactobacilli. Following this one habit can help keep up the proper functioning of your vagina. [Read: 7 Myths about Condoms that Have to Be Dispelled!]
Grooming with Caution
First of all, let’s make it clear that there’s nothing wrong with letting your pubic hair grow. The latest trend of removing all trace of hair down there is not a must for maintaining a healthy vagina. It’s only a personal choice that women make. The pubic hair begins to show as a woman hits puberty because it helps protect our vagina and sexual organs. It moisturizes the vulva as it maintains natural lubrication and acts as a barrier against foreign harms from the outside. However, if you still like to keep it hair-free, make sure you don’t overgroom. Waxing and shaving can lead to ingrown hairs on the sensitive skin the covers the vulva. The itchiness that follows becomes very harmful in the long run. So, even if you like to keep things neat, do so by trimming sensibly and leaving a little bit of hair around the area to ensure they get to do their job. [Read: Vaginal Odor irritating you lately? Here’s what you should do!]
Choose the Right Underwear
Your underwear is the first layer of foreign material that touches your vulva. It is thus, very important that you make the right undergarment decision. Always go for a cotton underwear. The moisture absorption quality of a cotton cloth helps keep things adequately dry near your vagina. Not just that, cotton allows air to pass through and thus, your lady parts are adequately aerated in the process. However, when you are at home, ditch the underwear altogether. It is best to let the vagina lose when you can. Let it breathe and get freedom from the constant contact with a not-so-comfortable element. Don’t go commando when you go to the gym though. You need a layer of protection between your vagina and the germ-ridden gym equipment. [Read: Making Underwear The Outerwear]
Pelvic Floor Workouts
The Pelvic Floor is a layer of muscles which support the bladder, bowel, vagina, and uterus in the female body, and span the bottom of the pelvis. The pelvic floor muscles are how we control the release of urine, feces or wind from our body. Not just that, they have an important contribution to sexual arousal in both men and women. They provide support for the baby during pregnancy, which makes these muscles very important. The maintenance of the Pelvic Floor can be done through a regular exercise that strengthens these muscles. Kegel exercises are recommended to maintain strong Pelvic Floor muscles. Start by identifying your pelvic floor muscles. Try stopping urination midstream. Doing this successfully helps in the identification. Once you’ve done that add tightening your pelvic floor muscles and holding that contraction for five seconds and letting it go for another five, at least 4-5 times continuously. Do this regularly – three sets of 10 repetitions a day – to see better control over stress, urinary, and fecal incontinence. [Read: 5 Fun workouts for the busy bees]
Get in the Habit of Annual Check-ups
Regular visits to the Gynaecologist are as uncommon in India as visits to the dentists. However, it is important to get your vagina checked by a trusted gynecologist at least once a year. We might not feel anything different in our body but it is always best to get an expert opinion on your vagina’s health. If you are uncomfortable visiting a male doctor, look for a female gynecologist and set up annual meetings with her. You can also utilize this time to ask whatever questions you have in mind regarding your reproductive and sexual health. It is always better to get the opinion of an expert in these matters. Although some might advise against going to a gynecologist on a regular basis, it is important to avoid health problems. Just make sure you choose the right doctor for the same.