Talking about vaginal health is a taboo in our society just like talking about menstruation. Not a lot of people will tell you this but your vagina needs as much care as any other organ of your body. Every vagina is unique and beautiful however, there are some habits you should follow to keep it happy and clean, regardless of your age.
Vagina and Vulva are often used interchangeably. They however refer to two different areas of the female genital.
So, let's start by learning the difference between Vagina and Vulva
The vagina is the inner portion of the female genital, it is also called the birth canal for those who bear children. The vagina is a tube that connects with the Cervix. When you bend down to look at your genital you can only see the opening of the vagina. On the other hand, Vulva is the outer portion, the part that you can see and it includes the clitoris, urethra, and inner and outer labia.
Don’t Wash Your Vagina
You might love keeping yourself clean and fresh but washing your vagina is a bad idea. The vagina is an internal organ and like any other internal organ, it doesn't require cleaning. Vaginal secretions maintain a low pH level which discourage the growth of outside bacteria and maintains a healthy environment. Using soap interferes with this pH level resulting in vulnerability to infections. Another important thing to know is that you must avoid using scented products down there. Brands that sell scented feminine products take advantage of our insecurities about vaginal odour. Remember that a healthy vagina has a distinct smell.
However, it's okay to wash your vulva gently with mild and non-fragrant product. You can use your hand to do this and then use a clean the towel to dry the area. A wet surface can attract bacteria.
Say Yes To Pubic Hair
A lot of people associate no body hair with cleanliness. However, this is might be a myth. Pubic hair is a very important part of your vaginal health. It’s okay to trim your hair a bit along the bikini line but remember you can choose not to do so and that's okay too. Pubic hair acts as a barrier and protects you from the extra bacteria. It also eliminates issues related to friction and sweat. Further, no shaving means no more itchiness when the hair grows back, with no cuts and lesser ingrown hair.
Select Your Lubes Wisely
Lubes are specialised substances which are used to reduce friction during an intercourse.
They are available in different flavours, textures, etc, and can prove to be a lot of fun. However, while selecting a lube for yourself never forget to check the ingredients. Certain lubes contain glycerin which promotes bacterial growth and petroleum products that interfere with the pH level. Other things that need to be avoided include parabens, scents, non-natural oil and dyes, and flavours.
Practice Safe Sex
An amazing way to take care of your vagina is by practicing safe sex. While having intercourse you expose your vagina to several infections. One way of protecting your vagina is by using a condom this will ensure that no fluids are exchanged between you and your partner. Peeing after sex is also important as it helps you get rid of the UTI’s you might have contacted. Further, make sure that you don’t use condoms made of spermicides. Spermicides kill the good bacteria produced by your vagina and disturb the healthy environment.
Let Your Vagina Breathe
Breathable clothes make your vagina happy. While shopping for your underclothes make sure that they are made of cotton. Cotton is a magical fabric, it is natural and has moisture-wicking properties. Wearing cotton underwear reduces wetness that can promote bacterial growth. Never skip changing your underwear and never wear a wet underwear.
Avoid wearing tight clothes and fabrics like leather and spandex for a long time. This is because fabrics like these don't allow air circulation which leads to more sweat. Also, throughout the day you cover your vagina with some amount of clothing, it is important to sleep without your undies and let your vagina breathe. So feel free to ditch your underwear at night.
Change your Sanitary pads timely
If you don’t change your or tampon timely it puts you at risk of catching an infection. It also leads to skin rashes and bad odor. It is advised that people with the normal flow should change in every 4-6 hours while people with heavy flow must change in every 3-4 hours.
A lot of people these days have switched to sustainable products like cloth pad and menstrual cups. People using cloth pads should make sure that they are clean and dry before use. While people using menstrual cups must disinfect them by boiling them after and before every period cycle.
Arunima Sharma is an intern with SheThePeople.TV