Maintaining good personal hygiene is one of the most important aspects of being healthy, especially for women. Being able to properly take care of YOU makes all the difference to your overall health aid social life. Our vagina is the most sacred part of our body and should always be
treated as such. Much of the state of our health can be determined by the state of our vagina.
Although you may think you know everything there is to know about keeping your lady parts up to par, there are tons of common misconceptions about what you should do to maintain a healthy vagina. Knowing how much misinformation is out there about the health of the vagina, I wanted to provide this guide to get you on the path to the best self-care when it comes to your genitals.
Below I will explain 7 of the best ways of maintaining a healthy vagina and tips to effectively handle her with ease.
The vagina is one of the world’s most fascinating body part to talk about but rarely has this ‘ole talk’ have any accuracy behind it. The vagina is multi-functional and has several uses. Some of her functions include: the entrance to the womb, which carries and nurtures the growing child within; the warm sheath that brings men to their knees; and the passage that allows water unused by the body and carrying waste to pass from her. She has the ability to bring us pleasure with or without a partner.
With all her multi-functions, it should be a priority for all women to keep her lady parts healthy. When she is healthy, the vagina that is, you are happy. Additionally, she is so delicate in nature requiring care and maintenance to keep her healthy. It is important to always show her
more love than neglect.
A healthy vagina is naturally acidic and contains rich quantities of beneficial bacteria that help fend off infections and maintain a normal pH level. A healthy vagina will also secrete small amounts of discharge to keep itself clean, much as saliva is produced to help cleanse your mouth. An.v interference with these normal conditions and you may face vaginal irritation or infection.
Have you ever looked down there? Can you pick out your vagina in a line-up of twenty others? You should intimately know your lady parts and should never be ashamed to explore and understand any part of your body. It is YOUR body after all.
If you are already well-acquainted with your lovely vagina, I applaud you, if not make a time, if not now, when you have some privacy. Have a bath and lay down on your bed with a handheld mirror. Place the mirror between your legs (ensure that you have good lighting) and fully
examine your vagina.
Look at your labia, majora and minora. Locate your clitoris. Consider the pubic hairs you have (or don’t have). What about the color. Take your time with this exercise.
Next, you need to do the smell test. This is necessary as the smell is a vital part of determining the health of your vagina. Place a finger at the entrance and swab in order to get a bit of your natural secretions, and then take a whiff. It’s yours, don’t be embarrassed.
How does is smell? Is it offensive? Sweet? Neutral?
Take note of all these things. Once finished you can wash up.
In a private note or journal (feel free to destroy at the end of the exercise if you have a concern of others finding it), write your findings. Is there any aspect that you have a concern or worry about? Anything to talk to your doctor about? That would be first and foremost to have
addressed. Provided that this is not tile case let’s move on with V-Care 101.
Grooming, as it pertains to the vagina, would entail tile upkeep of the pubic hair, whether removed partially, wholly or not at all. How you wear it is totally your choice. Just be sure to be safe in tile method of hair removal with respect to hygiene (especially in waxing salons) and also to avoid nicks and cuts if shaving, which can introduce infections to an already delicate and sensitive area. Also, be vigilant about tile chemical that you apply to assist with hair removal or even bleaching as some of these can be dangerous.
If for religious, personal or other reasons you wear your pubic hair untouched then there are some guidelines you should follow to ensure tile cleanest environment for your lady parts.
Sweat and bacteria contribute to odor and both can get trapped in hair. Be sure to wash with soap and water and gently use tile pads of tile fingers to massage tile skin underlying the hair to loosen dead skin cells, sweat and odor causing bacteria. Rinse well and ensure that you dry your pubic hair thoroughly to avoid trapping moisture in your undies.
Washing and cleansing
The vagina is self-cleaning, meaning that the secretions that are emitted cleanse the walls within. This maintains the optimal pH for the vagina and keeps the right balance of good bacteria. There is no need to douche or use any internal cleansing agents. As a matter of fact,
these may be harmful in interfering with the internal environment and flora causing infections. Unless advised by a doctor, do not try to wash out your vagina with products.
To clean the area properly, wash with soap and water ensuring to wash and gently rub between the folds of the labia majora and minora. Cleaning between the lips will ensure you get to all the nooks and canines where dirt, bacteria and odor hide. Do not insert a finger inside to
wash the passage. This is not necessary and can be harmful as discussed previously.
Note, women do carry the female version of smegma tinder the hood of the clitoris, which actually contributes to offensive odors and build-up of bacteria. You may have to gently retract the skin of the clitoris (especially for ladies well-endowed down there) and wash the area. This
part is extremely sensitive so do be gentle and rinse well to avoid leaving any soap residue under the skin.
Rinse thoroughly. Dry thoroughly.
After using the bathroom
When wiping yourself after a bowel movement always wipe from front to back to avoid getting any faecal matter in your vagina. This is important as you do not want to transfer germs and bacteria into your vagina.
I personally have always found it an unpleasant and unclean feeling to simply use toilet paper alone after a bowel movement. If you got poop on your hand, for example, would you just use toilet paper to wipe it off and go about your day? Exactly! Therefore if at home, I would first get as clean as possible using the tissue paper and then proceed to wash myself with a mild soap. It feels good to be clean and go about the day feeling fresh. In countries in the east such as China and India, it is common to wash oneself after using the toilet.
If however, you are not able for whatever reason to wash yourself, whether you are in a public restroom, at work, school etc., I always recommend having some wet wipes with you, preferably unscented baby wipes as these tend to be safest and gentlest on the areas. Walk too with a plastic bag to dispose of then in as they are mostly not flushable or wrap them in tissue and dispose in a sanitary bin if you have no other choice. This should get you clean enough so you can get on with your day.
After passing urine wipe with tissue paper, again from front to back to avoid transfer of germs, to ensure that all drops of urine are wiped up so as not to get on your underwear. Ammonia from the urine contributes greatly to genital odor.
Now if during the day, let’s say at work or school, you feel you need to freshen up down there, you can use a wet wipe or three to clean yourself, wiping between the folds and lips. Use a bit of tissue to dry up the area, change your panty shield (if wearing one) and feel cleaner. This is also a good practice when out on a date, if you need to get clean for some action (wink wink).
Exercise for the vagina is crucial to her overall health in general. Without proper exercise a weak pelvic floor may lead to issues such as the inability to control your bowels or bladder.
A weak pelvic floor can be due to many factors in women, such as pregnancy, childbirth, aging, and weight gain. The pelvic floor muscles support the womb, the bladder, and the bowels. If the muscles are weak, these pelvic organs may lower into a woman’s vagina. Besides
being extremely uncomfortable, this can also cause urinary incontinence.
There are several types of exercises that you can do to strengthen this area. For the sake of this article, I will only discuss one, Kegel exercises.
When first starting Kegel exercises, it is important to find your muscles first before beginning. Finding the right set of muscles can be tricky. One way to find them is by placing a clean finger inside your vagina and tightening your vaginal muscles around your finger.
Another way to locate these muscles is by trying to stop your urine mid-flow. The muscles you use for this action are your pelvic floor muscles. It’s vital to get use to how they feel when they contract and relax.
Important note: only use this method for learning purposes only. Starting and stopping your urine regularly or too frequently is not a good idea. Make sure to not do Kegel exercises when you have a full bladder. Incomplete emptying of the bladder can raise your risk for a urinary
tract infection (UIT).
You can talk with your gynecologist for guidance if you still aren’t sure you’ve found the right muscles.
A third option for locating your pelvic floor muscles is something called Biofeedback training. In this procedure, a doctor will insert a small probe into your vagina or put adhesive electrodes on the outside of your vagina or anus. You will be asked to try to do a Kegel. There will be a
monitor there to detect whether you contracted the correct muscles and how long you were able to hold the contraction.
Again, remember to always empty your bladder before doing Kegel exercises. As a beginner, I recommend you find a safe, quiet, private place to sit or to lie down before doing your exercises. As you get more practice, you’ll be more comfortable and will be able to do them anywhere.
When you first start doing Kegel exercises, tense the muscles in your pelvic floor for a count of three, then relax them for a count of three. Keep going until you have done 10 repetitions. Over the next several days, practice until you can hold your muscles tensed for a count of 10. Your intended goal should be to do three sets of 10 repetitions every day.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see the results right away.
Kegel exercises can take as long as a few months to have an effect on urinary incontinence. However, every individual is different and the results will vary for each person. While some people show great improvement in muscle control and continence, others may show no
significant improvement at all. However, Kegels may prevent your condition from getting worse.
If you feel pain in your abdomen or back after a Kegel exercise session, it’s a sign that you’re not doing them correctly. Aiwa s remember that, even as you contract your pelvic floor muscles, the muscles in your abdomen, back, buttocks, and sides should remain loose.
Finally, don’t overdo your Kegel exercises. If you work the muscles too hard, they’ll become tired and unable to fulfill their necessa functions.
Don’t be afraid to give Kegel exercises a try.
Exercise for overall Fitness
If it is okay with your doctor, you should aim to get at least thirty minutes of exercise, three or four times a week.
Look at your schedule; when do you have the most energy during the day? Is it first thing in the morning, lunchtime or in the evening? This is when you should schedule your workout. Personally, I love to wake up long before the sun comes up, when most of the world is still asleep to get in my sweat at home. You just need to find what works for you.
Then decide what form of exercise you would enjoy the most. This is very important. Man people sign up for gym memberships at the beginning of the year as they make resolutions to get fit and only go for the first week or two. If the gym is not for you then, there are many other options available.
- home exercise equipment
- body weight exercises
- aqua fitness classes
- weight training
Find a form of exercise that you will enjoy, something that you can stick to. You will see and feel the benefits of exercise in improved well-being and improved health your vagina as well.
It is a no-brainer that drinking water is necessary for life. Additionally, water helps all functions of your body run more smoothly, especially where muscles and bodily fluids are concerned. Most importantly, in this case, is vital for good vaginal health
Mucous membranes (found in places such as your eyes, mouth, and vagina) rely on a well—hydrated body to function properly. Drinking the correct amount of water, at least six to eight 8-ounce glasses a day, not only aids in natural lubrication but could also create a milder vaginal scent and taste.
This is why being properly hydrated is good for your whole body.
You are what you eat and if you eat junk food it will be actively reflected in your health. Your body is one organism with all of it connected. Your circulatory system flows the same blood throughout you entire body so you deliver nutrients and oxygen to every organ, tissue and
cell. Your vagina will reflect your health as well.
Women with diabetes or Polycystic Ovaries, for example are much more likely to experience yeast infections as the Candida Albicans yeast, which causes the infection, feeds off of glucose. Excessive sugar in the diet can contribute to itchy, malodorous yeast infections. If you find yourself getting these infections regularly, try going sugar free for an entire menstrual cycle avoiding all forms of added sweeteners, natural or artificial. Even very ripe and sweet fruit should be avoided during the period to keep sugar at a minimum. You can consume tart fruit or berries. Journal any differences you notice in your vaginal health as well as your general health.
Certain foods will directly affect the odor of your vagina. Strongly flavored foods tend to ‘perfume’ our urine and this in turn lingers down there. Coffee, garlic, smoked meats (especially smoked herring), curry, fenugreek.. .these are just a few examples. This is not to say that you can’t enjoy these foods, just don’t be too worried if you catch a whiff of coffee down there at times. If however, these odors in your undies bother you then it would be as simple as cutting down or even stopping the offending food choice once you are aware of the cause.
Some women opt to drink lots of pineapple or other sweet fruit juice with gay abandon to ‘sweeten’ up their vagina for a special occasion or just in general. I personally don’t think this is a good idea as you are flooding your system with sugar which as explained above can interfere
with the good/bad flora balance in the vagina and lead to infections later on. I do believe that if you practice good hygiene, nutrition, drink lots of water and exercise that you will have a clean and healthy vagina.
The Power of Vegetables
I believe in vegetables. Whether you are a vegan, vegetarian or full on omnivore, vegetables are your best friend in life!
There are so many benefits to including lots of fresh colorful vegetables in your diet. Improved health, fibre, nutrient dense, low in calories, full of vibrant life-giving water from the earth (especially if juiced or eaten fresh) and they can be very cleansing to the body. An abundance
of vegetables in your diet over processed foods will promote a healthy vaginal environment and better health to your body in general.
Clean up your diet as much as possible. You instinctively know what is bad for you already, I’m sure. If not, start to read labels on your purchased foods and if it contains chemicals or additives you can’t pronounce or are unsure of, then don’t put it in your body. Monosodium
Glutamate? Potassium Hexametaphosphate? Um?
Preferably eat whole foods with ingredients that you recognize.
Yogurt and Probiotics
Unsweetened (emphasis on Unsweetened) yogurt is also good for vaginal health in that it contains healthy probiotics such as Lactobacillus acidophilus which proliferate in the gut and help promote a healthy balance of good vs. bad bacteria. Some recommend inserting
yogurt inside the vagina but I wouldn’t recommend this unless you check with your doctor first.
Probiotic supplements are also a good option to restore balance to the gut and bacteria in the system and are in greater concentrations and variety of live probiotic cultures than yogurt if you have a milk allergy or do not like the unsweetened variety. Ensure too that this is sanctioned by your healthcare professional.
Pure cranberry has many benefits to the overall health of your body. Additionally, cranberry juice is great for improving your vaginal health. Cranberry juice is well known for its beneficial effect on the bladder. It both prevents and relives the symptoms of urinary tract infections (UTI). Cranberries acidify the urine and balance the pH of the vaginal area. They contain acidic compounds that don’t get broken down when they travel though the digestive system, so they can fight the bacteria that cause urinary infections.
When buying cranberry juice for purposes of healing, most store-bought cranberry juices unfortunately contain way too much sugar to serve in this healing process. Your best bet is to either look for pure, unsweetened cranberryjuice or eat fresh cranberries. But go for a natural, no-
sugar-added brand to get the benefits.
Many people have trouble with eating unsweetened cranberries because of the tart taste. If this is the case, try mixing them in your yogurt or sweeten them with stevia which will not disturb your vaginal pH.
In addition to drinking more cranberry juice, cut back on alcohol and caffeine, which irritate the bladder.
Seeds and Nuts
Adding nuts to your daily nutrition is one of the ways to improve your wellness and overall health. There are several great benefits that seeds and nuts provide for your vagina.
Vitamin E prevents vaginal dryness and can be found in sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts, as well as in the oils derived from these nuts. Almonds and pumpkin seeds are also rich in zinc. Zinc is known to regulate the menstrual cycle and helps combat itching and
other symptoms of dryness.
Flaxseed is another super-food that is good to include in your diet on a regular basis. Rich in phytoestrogens and omega-3 fatty acids, it helps to boost estrogen levels and stops vaginal dryiess.
In order to enjoy all that ground flaxseed has to offer for your body, it is vital to consume it. You can try using flaxseed meal in your baked breads, muffins, etc. or sprinkle it in a smoothie or on a salad.
In terms of sanitary care during menstruation, we have come a long way.
Cloth pads, disposable pads, tampons, insertable cups, now we have many options. Whichever method you choose, always abide by the rule when it comes to changing them on time to avoid infections or in the case of tampons, toxic shock syndrome. Each of the above-mentioned sanitary methods has its pros and cons, whether it being more natural, convenient, comfortable, hygienic etc. but weigh them to determine which is best for you and your lifestyle. If you do wear tampons though, I would recommend taking a break from them for a few hours at a time, wearing a pad to give your body a chance to release the flow from your body uninhibited and naturally.
If you find that you harbor menstrual odor whenever you have your period, feel free to take wipes with you and tidy up as necessary to maintain a clean environment down there.
Be especially meticulous about cleansing yourself properly during your menstrual cycle. Again there is no need to wash out the inside as your flow will naturally cease on its own removing all traces of the shedding lining.
This is a topic that can be well beyond the scope of this book, but there are some points worth mentioning here.
You need to be responsible with your sexual health. There are a lot of sexually transmitted diseases out there, some fatal. Diseases such as HPV or the Human Papilloma Virus can be spread even with the use of condoms and can cause genital warts and cervical cancer. So please take care of yourself no matter what. Don’t ever let a moment of pleasure cause you a lifetime of pain. Do your research and be aware of what is out there.
Having said that, if you are in a committed monogamous relationship and you and your partner have been tested then practice good hygiene during intimacy as well.
Anything inserted into your vagina, whether attached to a human or not needs to be clean. Sweaty, dirty or smelly balls are never sexy and do not belong in your vagina. Any man who keeps himself dirty should not be inserting himself in you. Trust me, you don’t want anyone else’s bacteria inside of you. If you really care about a man and want to be with him, then you need to talk to him about his hygiene or find creative ways to get him to shower or clean himself before you get intimate. Probably you can suggest a little foreplay in the shower to start with. If he doesn’t pick up on your hints you will have to say something eventually. Sorry!
Your post sex hygiene is important too so make sure to clean accordingly.
There is no shame in this as it is a concern when it comes to sexual intimacy with a partner. Again, there is no need to flood your system with fruity juices. This will not only fill you up with too much sugar but you cannot maintain it by drinking gallons of juice every day. Instead, practice proper hygiene, nutrition, work on balancing the flora in your digestive system and your natural taste should right itself into something mild and neutral. If after making positive changes to your lifestyle you still have a concern about the taste and or smell of your vagina, then you need to speak to your doctor or gynecologist.
Just as you have a natural body smell, the same applies to your vagina. Pheromones aside, your natural smell is not supposed to be offensive to you or anyone else. A bad odor may indicate an infection and should be checked by a doctor as soon as possible.
If you have a concern about the smell and you do not suspect an infection, take a look at your diet. Are you eating highly processed foods? Does the odor smell like any one food, like coffee or garlic? Try eliminating foods from your diet for a time to observe if there are any differences. Make a note of what you observe. Add more fresh fruits and vegetables to your meals. Also, observe any meats that you eat as these too can create an acidic state in the body and create imbalances in bacteria causing odor.
Note if you clean up your diet or do any detoxing regimen like juicing vegetables, you may experience the as necessary. These would help to whisk away sweat and odor getting worse before it gets better as your body rids secretions and keep you drier. itself of toxins. Just be patient in this case.
Also remember to wash the folds of the labia and the skin on the mons pubis especially under pubic hair and under the clitoral hood to remove sweat and bacteria.
There is a concern with the cleanliness and hygiene associated with wearing thongs, for obvious reasons. However, I believe that practicing good cleaning up after using the toilet and can enable you to wear these without much worry.
Ideally underwear should be of a fabric that allows air to circulate to your vagina and keep you dry and cool. This does not apply to every woman though as some women have thighs that rub together and this does not allow the vagina to breathe. If you find that you are having problems with sweat or wetness down there during the day then I advise wearing panty shields and changing them as often
Please stay away from scented or dyed shields. You do do not have to wear them every day. As a matter of fact, when you are at home, if possible, try to go commando to allow your vagina to breathe and be in her natural state, especially at night.
Eating a balanced and healthy diet, with some strategic vagina-friendly food additions, can go a long way in keeping everything in peak condition. Your bladder and vaginal health is also reliant on proper hygiene, breathable undergarments, and always practicing safer sex. Your body is the most precious possession you will ever own, and so you should love and care for all of it, vagina included. You definitely won’t regret it, and your partner sure won’t either!
So there you have it, your guide to a better happy and healthy vagina. Your vagina is the portal to all things magical in your life. Once you own and accept yourself, you can do and be anything you choose. The more you know, the more you’re empowered to live life out loud, love fully, and really rock this life.
Dr. Lorene Garcia is a Gynecologist (OB-GYN) based in Miami, Florida who has more than 10 years experience gynaecology. I’m a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and love to help women with gynecological problems.