By: Cassie Manz
Keeping our vaginas healthy and happy is uber important, especially during the summertime when sun, sand, sweat, and water pose certain challenges to our vaginal hygiene.
Okay, yes, we all probably want our vaginas to be healthy, but why is it so important? Besides the fact that life is better when it’s looking good, smelling good, and feeling good, the vagina is also related to our overall well-being and can give us clues about our hormones and mental health, according to Dr. Sheeva Talebian, an OB-GYN and reproductive endocrinologist with CCRM New York. “Most of us are fairly shocked to learn that the health of your vagina may be a reflection of the health of the rest of your body,” Dr. Talebian told Teen Vogue in an interview. “[…] things like vaginal discomfort, vaginal discharge, and vaginal odor can be the first sign that something is off within your body.”
So, how do we practice good vaginal care? Where do we start? Maybe you know some of the basics: don’t use scented soaps or harsh cleansers when shaving or washing around the vulva, don’t stay in a wet bathing suit or sweaty gym clothes for too long, and so on. Maybe you didn’t know any of this.
There’s a lot we can do to take care of our vaginas and make sure everything is healthy down there.
Here are some tips:
- DON’T douche. Seriously, just don’t. Douching, washing out the vagina, can interfere with the vagina’s natural pH levels, which usually range from about 3.8 to 4.5, and reduce its acidity which can lead to bacterial infections. Your vagina will clean itself naturally through discharge; although douching might seem like a good or necessary thing, it can make things a lot worse for your vagina.
- Stick to cotton underwear and don’t wear thongs everyday! I know, it seems unsexy, but many health experts suggest cotton underwear because it is more breathable and helps ward off infections.
- Eat foods with probiotics, like yogurt and kimchi, to help maintain the vaginal pH levels and fight infections! Eating right makes our body feel good, and this includes our vagina!
- Always have safe sex! Wearing condoms during sex helps prevent against contracting STDs, like genital herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia, genital warts, and HIV. And remember to use a new condom when switching from oral sex or anal sex to vaginal sex. Besides, protecting you from STDs and unwanted pregnancies, condoms also help to keep those natural vaginal pH levels balanced.
- Make an appointment with your gyno…regularly! According to Everyday Health, if you have a vagina you should see a gynecologist by the time you’re 21 or within three years of becoming sexually active.
- Treat infections as soon as possible! If you think you are experiencing symptoms of a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis, see your doctor before it becomes worse. If these infections go untreated for a long period of time they could cause serious reproductive health issues.