9 Habits Every Woman Should Adopt For A Healthy Vagina
Your vagina plays a vital role in your general wellbeing. From a healthy sex life to maintaining bladder health and function, your vag helps regulate a bunch of different bodily systems. But to ensure it’s functioning properly, you’ve got to take care of it. Here are nine habits every woman should adopt for a happy, healthy vagina, according to Dr Christine Kriel.
Know your partner’s status and sexual history
You need to have an open conversation with your partner about their HIV status, and yours. Also, ask about any previous discharges or rashes and the treatment they used for it. Use condoms if your guy has a current discharge or rash, or HIV. Remember, men can also be carriers of STDs, like herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV), chlamydia, gonorrhoea or trichomoniasis, without having current symptoms. If you have any doubts, rather be safe and use protection.
Urinate after sex
Our urethras are short compared to males, and this is one of the reasons we’re more prone to urinary tract infections (UTIs). If bacteria is introduced during sex, urinating will help to flush it out of the urethra, preventing a UTI.
Vaginal sex first, then anal
Don’t go poking in different holes. Switching from anal to vaginal sex can introduce harmful bacteria to your vagina, putting you at risk of infection. If you do like to switch things up, remember number one always comes before number two.
Keep your vaginal flora happy
Your vaginal flora, just like your gut, is full of normal bacteria, yeast and fungi (the good kind). It mostly consists of lactobacillus, a specific type of bacteria, which contributes to an acidic environment, preventing infections like STDs and candida. But… your vaginal flora gets thrown off balance when you take an antibiotic, killing all your good bacteria.
When taking antibiotics, eat plain yoghurt. Also ask for a probiotic for a duration longer than the antibiotic to maintain your vaginal flora. If you suffer from recurrent yeast infections, it might be a good idea to remain on a lactobacillus probiotic. In terms of diet, avoid dairy, grains and sugar if you’re prone to yeast infections, and eat foods rich in probiotics like kefir, plain yoghurt, kombucha and sauerkraut.
See your gynae
Every woman should have a Pap smear with human papillomavirus (HPV) testing at least once every three years, depending on your results. If your Pap smear is normal, ask your doc about Gardasil, an HPV vaccine that protects you against vaginal warts and cervical cancer.
Do your pelvic floor exercises
You can’t start with pelvic floor exercises early enough. Your pelvic floor supports your vagina, bladder, cervix and rectum. One in three women will suffer from urinary incontinence some time during their life – so start preventative measures now. Your pelvic floor muscles are also involved in orgasm, and a weak pelvic floor causes decreased sexual satisfaction during sex.
READ MORE: Seriously, Why Is My Vagina So Itchy?
Wash your vagina – but not with soap…
The vagina is self-cleaning. Soap is for the outside, not the inside. You can wash daily to get rid of sweat and secretions, especially in the folds, but don’t use any products inside your vagina. Washing with soap will disturb your vagina’s normal PH and microbiome, which puts you at risk of infections and bacterial overgrowth. We’re talking no special feminine products, no douching, no perfumes… When choosing underwear, cotton is more breathable and preferable to synthetics like spandex or nylon.
Wipe front to back
Obvious, but it needs to be said… Wiping from back to front can introduce faecal bacteria and infections, especially UTIs. So, make sure that you’re actually wiping from the front to the back.
Watch for suspicious activity
Any vaginal itch and cottage-cheese white discharge is most likely candida, a common bacterial overgrowth. Ask the pharmacy for an applicator cream treatment. If this doesn’t do the trick, visit your doctor. Discharges that are copious in amount, have a bad odour or are triggered after unprotected sex are most likely infections or STDs that need to be checked and treated by your doctor.