written by G. Gena, BSN, RN, CMSRN, MPH-GH
the dos and the don'ts
The vagina… it give us pleasure, allows us to have children, goes through menstruation once a month and then, eventually… menopause. We shave them, wax them, wrap them up in satin, silk, and lace. Day to day vaginal routines play an important role in women’s health, sexuality, sense of wellbeing, vulnerability to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and other sexual and reproductive diseases. Across the world, women use and actively seek a variety of practices to achieve their desired vaginal environment. For this blog post, we will discuss what you need to know to ensure you don’t knock your natural flora out of balance and maintain a fresh, healthy vagina.
Douche- Decreases pH (normal 3.8- 4.5). By decreasing the pH levels (increases acidity), the vagina is more at risk for bacterial infections. Also avoid using harsh soaps or cleansers on the inside of the vagina. They all contribute to pH imbalances and infections. Rather than cover up any odor, find the cause for the odor.
Use petroleum jelly or baby oil as a lubricant- Cause inflammation and infections. Water based lubes are best because they are silicone-free, they can be safely used with latex condoms and other sex toys, and are easily cleaned off.
Wear tight jeans/shorts- Creates a warm and moist environment where yeast tends to thrive. Wear cotton underwear and loose clothing around the crotch area.
Have safe sex to keep harmful germs away- Using condoms while having sex prevents the spread of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). Make sure to change condoms when you're switching from oral or anal sex to vaginal sex.
Change immediately after working out or swimming- Sweat and water create an infectious of environment.
Wash with mild, unscented soap on the outside and just water on the inside.
Follow a healthy, nutritious diet for healthy vagina that includes drinking lots of water, probiotics (cheese and yogurt) and cranberries.
Know what’s normal for you. Each vagina is different, making it essential to monitor what’s ‘normal’ for you in terms of smell, discharge (color, smell, amount) and feeling. This way, you’ll know if anything changes. If you do notice a change, it’s always best to consult your gynecologist.
Sex on your period is perfectly ok- it’s a personal choice.