HOW TO KEEP YOUR VAGINA HAPPY AND HEALTHY

Just a little mix of advice, tips and tricks for all females ( younger, older, sexually active, menopausal, etc.) I’m gonna give you a general overview of the situation down there, dos and don’ts, info on the most common vaginal infections and then certain practices you can add to your routine.

Before I begin, here is a disclaimer

PSA: This, in no way, means that I’m a health professional giving professional advice. This is just what I’ve gathered from years of experience and months of research and interviews with some health professionals so some of what I’ll say will be completely new to some of you. It’s okay to disagree. 

We know that vaginas are sources of pleasure and a portal for life, but some of us are not aware that vaginas are self-cleaning organs so it’s not necessary to do too much when trying to keep it clean. So don’t think that there’s something wrong with you if you see your daily discharge. That is just the shedding of cervical and vaginal cells.

Most guys are very ignorant about issues concerning the vagina so don’t be hurt by their comments, rude or not. Just try to learn and do better. All females are different and react to the same thing differently, same as vaginas. There is no such thing as a “normal” vagina. Each one is different. 

I am not gonna bore you with a lot of details but here are some few things you should know before we get into the topic. A healthy vagina has an acidic pH of about 3.5 to 4.5 (some say 3.8 to 4.5). This is because the lactobacilli which is the good bacteria in the vagina produces lactic acid and keeps the vaginal environment at a low, acidic pH that kills or discourages other bacteria, yeast, and viruses from thriving. On the other hand, bad bacteria called anaerobes cause urinary tract infections(UTIs), bacterial vaginosis (BV) and yeast infections.

Learn to air out your vagina. That means lesser hours in tight clothes. Those will just keep your vagina too moisturised and warm and turn it into a breeding place for unwanted bacteria. Cotton absorbs moisture and that is why cotton panties or panties with cotton linings are recommended. You can also try going to bed without panties but definitely wear panties when you’re going to the gym. Wear padded panties especially if you’re going to cycle at the gym.

Do not miss your periodic gyaeno exams. If you’ve never had one and you’re in Accra or Kumasi, I can recommend some really cool gyaenos that you could see. It’s very important. There are a lot of things that they see that we don’t.

Hygiene is very key. Wash your vagina at least twice a day. More importantly, before you go to bed. Especially during your period. Blood has an alkali pH of about 7.4. That’s why there’s a change in the smell of your discharge when you’re  on your period. Any alkali liquid that gets into your vagina will cause the pH in your vagina to be unbalanced. Do not overwash it though. Do it less often but do it right. When you’re bathing or wiping, do it from front to back. The last thing you want is bum bacteria in your vagina. Give your perinium ( the space between your butthole and your vagina) the same attention you give other parts of your body. If not, bacteria from your bum can easily get trapped there and transfer into your vagina. 

Do daily checks on your vagina. “Finger” yourself every morning when you’re bathing and check if there’s a change in the smell or colour. Also do not keep tampons or pads in use for longer than necessary.

Kegel exercises are also important. Especially to older women and women who have given birth because it strengthens the pelvic floor muscles that tend to get weaker after birth/with age. It helps you experience stronger orgasms and helps with bladder control.

Do not use tissue after you pee, especially if you have sensitive skin. Try using unscented baby wipes or rub a little coconut oil on the inner labia and the opening of your vagina after you use the tissue. It will keep it soft and unchapped. 

Please don’t use soap inside your vagina. It doesn’t need that extra “help”. Besides, most soaps have a pH of about 9 to 10 which will cause the pH in your vagina to be unbalanced and cause bacterial infections. Also, most of them contain sulphate and will dry out your vagina lips if you use them everyday.

DO. NOT. DOUCHE. Not even with water. All those so called vaginal washes that claim to  wash out your vagina and promise to make it smell like my mother’s jollof will only do that for a while and then later will cause very serious problems for you. Yeast infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, need I say more?

Pubic hairs were created for  a reason. Do not shave it all off please. Bacteria can easily get to your vagina that way. Do not keep it too bushy either. Bacteria can get trapped inside. Just keep it trim and tidy.

Smoking increases the chances of getting BV

I have already mentioned BV twice and some of you may be wondering what it is. There are 3 common vaginal infections among women: bacterial vaginosis, thrush and trichonomiasis. Thrush, a fungus infection caused by candida, is curdy and white, causing severe itching around the outer labia of the vagina and has little or no odour. BV shows a thin, watery gray, yellow or green discharge with a strong “rotten fish-like” smell with little or no itching. Trich is the commonest curable STD, caused by infection with a protozoan parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. What is scary about this STD is that someone could have it for months and not show any signs because only about 30% of people who get it actually see symptoms. A guy could have it for a whole year and not know but you get it and within 5 to 28 days of being infected, your vagina starts to itch and smell like fish. What’s worse, not treating these 3 infections can make you more susceptible to other STDs like HIV so be careful.
Some females are more prone to yeast infections than others. Their vaginas tend to host more bacteria than the average woman. If you’re one of them, please talk to a health professional before taking birth control pills as they are high in oestrogen and will further increase the  level of bacteria in your vagina. Try adding fresh yoghurt to your daily food intake and thank me later.

The rest concerns the sexually active ones. The ph of semen is about 7.2 to 7.8 which is alkaline. That explains the concept of “after-sex smells” which come about as a result of a mix of the alkali penile secretions and the acidic vaginal ones. This consequently causes a disruption in the pH of the vagina. And this is even worse if you have multiple sexual partners. So try to have protected sex. You might not wanna hear this but condoms will be your friend. Condoms help keep your vaginas pH balanced since it does not allow a lot exchange of fluids thereby allowing good bacteria to flourish. Do not switch from anal  to vagina without changing condoms or properly cleaning off first. Ladies, pee before and after sex. It will not prevent pregnancy but will lower the chances of you getting UTIs. Unwanted bacteria can travel to the urethra which is connected to the bladder. Some women are not as naturally lubricated as others and that is normal. Vagina dryness can be caused by certain birth control pills and antidepressants. Or a decrease in estrogen levels during menopause or perimenopause, after childbirth, or during breastfeeding. So approach antibiotics with caution. Most of these women tend to use artificial lubricants during sex. There are so many different water based, oil based and silicone based lubes on the market but do not be compelled to get one if you do not need one. If you naturally get really wet during sex, don’t ever let a guy forcefully enter your vagina with the assumption that you’ll start getting more lubricated when he starts thrusting. That would cause a tear at the opening of your vagina and make you more susceptible to infections. The inner two-thirds of your vagina increases in size when you’re aroused. So instead of rushing things, let him put a little more time into foreplay. If not, use a lube. I would tell you to use a water based lube but honestly I think you have to make your own judgement. However, do not use an oil based lube with a condom because it will cause the latex to break down and cause problems for you. Do not use vaseline or baby oil as lubes. They can cause infections like BV. Do not use a silicone based lube with a silicone sex toy. Be mindful of the lubes you use. Some tend to kill off sperm cells so if you’re trying to get pregnant, make sure you check that out. Do not use saliva as a lube either. Especially if there’s already a tear or you shaved bald. I always tell my friend that emergency post pills are the devil. Apart from them causing disruptions in your menstruation cycle, more painful periods, nausea and vomiting in some women, most post pills increase the amount of bacteria in your vagina because they’re high in oestrogen. Finally, be mindful of the sex toys that you use. Most of these cheap sex toys that are porous and made of silicone have a large concentration of phthalates which are bad for you. Those jelly like ones, made up of PVC and rubber. I keep stressing on “cheap sex toys” because most of the manufacturers use products such as PVC which is banned in certain countries for being a danger and we still buy them. It is like we have time to check the ingredients and info on food and drinks and even makeup but not the things we put inside our vagina.

Finally, your diet is another major factor in taking care of your vagina. Some of these have not been scientifically proven but cranberries, strawberries, pineapples, yoghurt help maintain it but too much intake of spices, red meat, sugar and salted fish can make your vagina smell and taste bad. Having a bad immune system makes it easy to get a bacterial infection so try and eat more fruits and vegetables. Also, drink at least 4 sachets of water a day as that will help with lubrication and prevent dryness.

If you have any more tips or advice that I forgot to  mention you can comment down below.

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