In our country, sex, and anything in its vicinity, is considered taboo, making women’s sexual health a topic of unspeakable shame. Women often find themselves tongue-tied when needing to discuss issues related with their vagina, even with their gynaecologists, which puts their health at serious risk.
The vulva, which includes the opening of the vagina, is one of the most sensitive areas of a woman’s body and needs utmost care and attention. It needs to be cleaned regularly to maintain its optimal pH level. While this can’t be news to you, one can sometimes forget the essentials. We are here to take you through some of the most basic rules to keep your vaginal hygiene in check.
Fresh undergarments everyday
With a busy schedule in these competitive times, sweating is inescapable. This enables the accumulation of bacteria around the vagina that causes itching, irritation, rashes, and a million other infections. Therefore, it is important that one changes into a fresh pair of underwear each day. Also, wash them regularly with mild soap. Avoid using heavy detergents because they are harsh on the skin and can lead to further irritation.
While on the topic, it is also worthy to note that cotton underwear is your best option, always. They are soft, they absorb moisture, and the fabric lets your skin breathe. Cotton also reduces friction which makes them a great fit for daily wear.
Learn the right way to clean it
Vaginas are self-sufficient in maintaining the right pH balance which is why doctors across the globe recommend cleaning them with only lukewarm water. Avoid using soaps or gel-based cleansers on your vagina. Stay clear of douching because it tampers with the pH balance which in turn invites a host of bacteria. Be careful while shaving or waxing the pubic hair. Shaving and waxing around the vagina can cause unnatural friction, injuries, and bacterial infections.
Safe sex is the way to go
Unprotected sex makes you vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis and herpes that can severely harm your sexual health and make you prone to more infections.
Always use a condom and make sure you are aware of the material used. Latex and spermicides can cause allergic reactions, so choose the right kind of protection. Stay clear of harmful lubricants and always wash your vulva thoroughly after intercourse.
Go for regular screening
Never miss your appointments with the gynaecologist, and always sign yourself up for regular cervical screenings. Most cases for cervical cancer get cured because of early detection. If you’ve recently become sexually active, then it becomes all the more important for you to get yourself screened on a regular basis.
For women who are nearing menopause, it is important to get yourself tested more frequently to ensure you enter the phase smoothly. It is not uncommon for women to develop vaginal and uterus complications as they age, so it is always a good idea to keep your doctor in the loop of everything associated with your vaginal health.
Don’t use scented products on your vagina
Every vagina smells different; it is a unique indication of a woman’s body and health. Using scented products, wipes, and soaps can irritate the skin and make you uncomfortable as the chemicals in these products are harsh for the skin and can tip the pH balance. Besides, if you feel that the smell of your vagina is different than usual, it’s possible that you’ve contracted an infection that needs medical attention.
Menstrual health is important
Change your pads or tampons every 4-6 hours irrespective of the flow. Some of us tend to not change the pad or tampon during days of lighter flow. Using these products for long durations makes your vagina the breeding ground for bacteria and can lead to severe rashes and burns.
We recommend using a good menstrual cup, which is not only a healthier option for your vagina, but also great for the environment. The trick is to choose the right size and follow the instructions to insert it properly. Also, make sure you empty it every 8 hours.
Stay fit and eat healthy
Last but definitely not the least, maintain your vaginal health by eating your greens, exercising regularly, and staying hydrated. Yogurt is a great way to avoid yeast infections and spinach helps in promoting the growth of good bacteria. Kegel exercises strengthen your pelvic floor muscles that leads to better bowel function which in turn helps to keep your vagina clean and healthy.
At the end of the day, it is all about being mindful of safe practices and turning them into habits. Good vaginal health is essential for good mental health, too.
(Edited by Varsha Roysam)