ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR VAGINAL CARE – WRITTEN BY: AJIBOYE FOLASADE OLUWATOSIN
WHAT IS THE VAGINAL?
The vaginal is the closed muscular organ that extends from the vulva (the outside of the female genital area) to the cervix (the neck of the uterus).
WHAT IS VAGINAL CARE
Vaginal health is an important part of a woman’s overall health; it affects more than just your sex life. It is the totality of keeping the vaginal healthy and fit. The goal of vaginal care is to keep the vaginal free from irritants and infection.
Many women experience uncomfortable, vaginal infections at one time or the other due to poor vaginal health. Vaginal problems can affect your fertility, desire for sex, and ability to reach orgasm.
A healthy vaginal naturally has a slight odor, it also has a way of cleaning itself with natural secretion. This made the vaginal be referred to as a “self-cleaning organ”. But even with the self-cleaning ability, there are some things you can do to make sure you’re feeling fresh, healthy, and fit which if you don’t do can lead to serious vaginal problems.
Let’s quickly run through some very important points on your vaginal care.
YOUR DIET AND YOUR VAGINAL
Certain foods and drinks contain compounds that may help improve vaginal health. Eating a healthful, adequate diet will affect every part of your body and your vaginal is no exception. A good diet will help prevent infections, alleviates dryness, and improve vaginal conditions.
Plain yogurt is a very good food to be added to your diet for a healthy vaginal. It’s a probiotic i.e. it contains life bacteria called Lactobacillus acidophilus which helps to keep the PH of the vaginal in the acidic range, thereby, reducing the risk of yeast and other infection.
Water is another good thing to be added to your diet to keep your vaginal sound and fit. Staying well-hydrated helps boost energy and circulation and helps to prevent dryness of the vaginal. Drinking about 6-8ounces glasses of water daily will go a long way in keeping the vaginal fit.
Just like how dehydration can cause your skin to be dried and parched, it can also make your vaginal dry and itchy.
Another important thing to note is that alcohol must be avoided as much as possible because of its bad effects on the vaginal health.
EXERCISE AND YOUR VAGINAL HEALTH
There is no doubt that exercise is very good to keep our body fit and healthy. But what about the health of your vaginal? Doing Kegel exercises can help strengthen your pelvic floor muscle and help manage or prevent leakage of urine that you can’t control.
SEX AND YOUR VAGINAL HEALTH
It’s always important to take good care of your vaginal especially if you’re sexually active. There are certain things you should do before and after sex to prevent infection and maintain your vaginal health and fitness.
It is advisable to use the bathroom and empty your bladder before and after sex.
Also, how you clean your vaginal is important. While cleaning your vaginal, always clean from front to back so that you don’t contaminate the vaginal with bacteria which could lead to infection. Be gentle while cleaning the vaginal.
VAGINAL SECRETION OR DISCHARGE AND YOUR VAGINAL HEALTH
Vaginal secretion or discharge serves as a great housekeeping tool for keeping the vaginal health. The secretions are secreted by the glands in the vaginal and the cervix and they help to carry away dead cells and bacteria. Most of the time, vaginal discharge and secretion is perfectly normal.
The quantity can vary as well as the odor and color (this can range from clear to a milky whitish color), depending on the time you are in your menstrual cycle. For example, your vaginal will have more discharge when you are ovulating, breastfeeding, or sexually aroused. It may smell differently when you’re pregnant or when you are having a vaginal infection.
What causes abnormal discharge?
Any change in the color, odor, and quantity of the vaginal discharge is a sign of infection.
The variations include;
• Bloody or brown discharge: might be a sign of cervical cancer, irregular menstrual cycles.
• Cloudy or yellow: might be a sign of gonorrhea
• Frothy, yellow or greenish with a bad smell: might be a sign of trichomoniasis
• Thick, white and cheesy vaginal discharge might be a sign of yeast infection
• White, gray, or yellow with a fishy smell may be a sign of bacterial infection.
A good vaginal hygiene will help in preventing the aforementioned vaginal discharge odor and color.
BACTERIA AND YOUR VAGINAL
There are numerous natural bacteria in the vaginal which helps to protect the vaginal by maintaining the normal PH of the vaginal (which is usually acidic).
• Outnumber other potentially harmful bacteria that might enter the vaginal.
• Produce naturally occurring antibiotics which helps to fight bacteria that can cause infection
• To maintain the vaginal acidic PH
If the normal bacteria composition is distorted, it can lead to infection and inflammation such as bacterial vaginosis or thrush which can result in itching, abnormal vaginal discharge, and smell.
WASHING THE VAGINAL OR DOUCHING AND YOUR VAGINAL HEALTH
Gently washing the outside of the genitals (vulva) can help keep your genitals healthy. You can wash your genitals gently with water and unperfumed soap. You can wash the whole external area but it is important not to get soap and water inside the vaginal. Don’t forget, wash from front to back.
What about douching?
Douching means washing or cleaning the inside of the vaginal with water or other mixtures of fluids. Beyond causing treatable gynecological infections like thrush and bacterial vaginosis, washing your vaginal or douching can have more implications. People who practice douching and intimate washing are at high risk of contracting STIs.
This is as a result of the removal of the protective barriers which prevents infection from entering the vaginal.
Also, using scented products can hide any changes to vaginal discharge which can be an indication of some gynecological problems. Therefore, douching is not advisable.
SCENTED WIPES, DEODORANTS OR PERFUME AND YOUR VAGINAL HEALTH
The only best way to keep your vaginal healthy and fit is by washing with water and unperfumed soap. Therefore, scented wipes, deodorants, and perfume should be avoided because the chemicals they contain can irritate the vaginal.
WHAT ARE THE COMMON VAGINAL PROBLEMS?
- Sexual problems. For example, pain during and after sex (dyspareunia).
- Sexually transmitted infections. For example, gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia.
- Vaginitis. This is the inflammation of the vaginal walls.
- Others include ; vaginal cancer, vafinal cysts, and prolapse.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF VAGINAL PROBLEMS
• Change in the color, odor, and quantity of vaginal discharge
• Vaginal redness and itching
• Vaginal bleeding after sex
• A mass or bulge in the vaginal.
• Pain during sexual intercourse.
OTHER IMPORTANT TIPS ON KEEPING THE VAGINAL HEALTHY
Be sexually responsible: use condoms or maintain a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who is free of sexually transmitted diseases
• Clean your sex toys regularly
• Get vaccinated against the human papilloma virus which causes cervical cancer
• Wear only cotton underwear
• Wash new underwear before wearing
• Use soft toilet tissues for cleaning
• Don’t scratch your vulva
• Visit your doctor if you have any abnormal signs
Ajiboye Folasade Oluwatosin (the smiling nurse)
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