We all know tips and tricks for getting healthy hair and skin, but what about having a healthy vagina? Most women are taught early on to cleanse daily with strong soap or use “feminine hygiene” sprays, but this can actually do more harm than good. Knowing the right way to stay clean, choosing foods that will boost your health, and even exercising your vagina are all ways you can keep your vagina in tip top shape. Read on to learn more about how to have a healthy vagina.
Wash with hot water only. It may seem counterintuitive, but washing your vagina with soap, whether it’s bar soap or liquid, isn’t the best way to keep clean. The vagina actually stays quite clean on its own without the help of outside cleansers. Like other parts of the body, the vagina has a pH level that needs to be maintained within a certain range – 3.5 and 4.5, to be specific – in order to prevent the growth of unhealthy bacteria and facilitate the growth of good bacteria. Using harsh cleansers can upset the balance, leading to infection, irritation, and even bad smells.
Don’t use douches or feminine sprays. Douching with chemicals that are supposed to make your vagina smell like a field of flowers actually ends up having quite the opposite effect. They wash out all the healthy bacteria that helps your vagina stay clean and infection-free. The chemicals left behind by douches can cause irritation and even burning, and the same goes for feminine sprays. If you keep your vagina healthy using other methods, there will be no need to try to make it smell different.
Have good hygiene during your period. Many women experience an increased rate of vaginal infections when they’re menstruating, since having blood in the vagina changes its pH and throws things out of balance. To stay healthy during your period, practice the following habits:
Wipe from front to back. It’s important to wipe from front to back, rather than the reverse, to keep fecal matter from entering your vagina and causing an infection. Use plain, unscented toilet paper to wipe. Avoid using wet wipes or any other product that contains perfumes and chemicals.
Change out of wet clothes right away. Wearing a wet bathing suit or wet workout clothes for a few hours leaves you prone to getting a yeast infection. Make sure you change into clean, dry underwear as soon as possible after swimming or working out. You might even want to keep an extra pair on hand for unexpected situations when you might find yourself in need of a fresh pair.
Have good grooming habits. Keeping your pubic hair long can help create the moist, warm environment that bacteria need to grow, increasing the chances that you’ll get an infection. There’s no need to go totally bare, unless you want to, but it’s a good idea to use a small scissors to carefully trim the hair back to a shorter length so that the area is easier to keep clean and dry.
Wash after sex. When you have sex with a partner, you’re opening yourself up to bacteria and other microscopic substances that can end up irritating your vagina and causing an infection. The solution? Wash your vagina with hot water after sex. This will greatly minimize the chance that your encounter will have an unpleasant after effect.
Pee after sex. At the very least, pee after sex, even if you intend on washing, too. When you have sex, unwanted bacteria can travel up the urethra, which is connected to your bladder. Peeing after sex can help flush the bacteria out of the vaginal area, promoting general health and helping you avoid those pesky
Try using condoms. The pH of semen is basic, whereas the pH of the vagina is acidic. When semen is left in the vagina after sex, it upsets the balance in the vagina, leaving it prone to bacteria growth. Using condoms or another barrier method eliminates this problem. If you don’t want to use condoms, wash the semen away right after sex so it doesn’t have time to change the pH of your vagina.
Eat plenty of yogurt. Yogurt has the same kind of “good” bacteria that your vagina needs to stay healthy. You can replenish your body’s bacteria by making yogurt part of your daily diet. Eating yogurt is a great way to both prevent and treat yeast infections.
Eat lots of fruit. Cranberries, pineapples, strawberries, and other fruits help to freshen the smell of the liquids secreted by the vagina. Eating fruits won’t exactly make your vagina smell fruity, but it can help you develop a more pleasant scent if that’s something you’re concerned about. Fruit also has a high water content, and staying hydrated helps flush the body of toxins that can lead to bad smells.
Eat garlic. Garlic has properties that kill yeast, making it an effective tool for preventing and treating yeast infections. Eating cooked or raw garlic a few times a week is a great way to keep your vagina healthy. It has also been said to help get rid of bad vaginal odor.
Do kegel exercises. Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and the pubococcygeus muscle. These muscles tend to get looser and weaker with age and after giving birth. Strengthening them can help you avoid issues like urinary incontinence and also increase sexual pleasure. To do kegal exercises, follow these steps:
Explore other ways to exercise the vagina. The vagina is also strengthened through sexual activity and pleasure, since sex keeps it toned and elastic. Having regular intercourse is a good way to keep yourself in shape. Focus on tightening and releasing the vagina during sex to exercise the vagina as much as possible.
Try over-the-counter remedies for yeast infections. Most women experience yeast infections now and then, and they can usually be combatted with over-the-counter antifungal creams or suppositories. The treatments come in doses that are taken over a period of 1, 3, 5, or 7 days, depending on how severe your infection is. Most yeast infection treatments also come with anti-itch cream that can be used to help with itching and burning around the vulva area.
Go to the doctor to get treated for vaginitis. Vaginitis can be caused by yeast infections, bacterial infections, parasites, and other causes. It’s characterized by a discharge with a fish-like odor, burning and itching, and a rash around the vulva. You can buy over-the-counter creams to combat the uncomfortable symptoms, but you should go to the doctor to figure out the cause and receive a prescription as necessary.
Get regularly tested for STDs. Sexually transmitted diseases such as HPV, chlamydia, genital warts, and others can cause long-term damage if left untreated. If you have unprotected sex and feel there’s a possibility you could have contracted an STD, make an appointment with your doctor or go to a health clinic. In many cases you’ll be able to get free testing.
Go to the doctor if you notice something out of the ordinary. Many women aren’t familiar with the way their vaginas look and feel, so they aren’t aware when something changes. Every vagina is different, and it’s important to know how your vagina normally looks, feels, and smells so that when something changes, you’ll notice and seek medical attention if necessary. Go to the doctor if you notice a stark change in color, warts or other bumps, discharge that smells or looks different, or if you have pain in your vagina.