Six tips to keeping your vagina happy

Know when to go commando and how to avoid super gonorrhoea

In Summary

• Anything that interferes with the pH of the vagina can cause discomfort and infections

Illustration of female genitals
Illustration of female genitals

If you have ever had to nurse a vaginal yeast infection, you probably know how unhappy that vagina can get. The itching, burning and irritation is so intense, you can hardly concentrate on your daily activities.

An yeast infection, also referred to as vaginal candidiasis, is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It is a fungal infection caused by a fungus called candida, which grows out of control in the vagina. Studies reveal that yeast infections affect about three in every four women at some point in their lives.

Every woman should be concerned about her vaginal health and ensure she understands her vagina. A healthy vagina has a pH ranging between 3.8 to 5.0, which is moderately acidic and has 'good' bacteria that kills harmful organisms. Anything that interferes with the pH of the vagina can cause discomfort and infections in the vagina. We look at ways to ensure your vagina is always happy.

1. Keep her clean

The vagina is self-cleansing and uses natural secretions to clean itself. To wash your vagina, doctors recommend using warm water and advise it's not necessary to use soap. Water always does the trick. Ensure that your partner's fingers are also clean to avoid him introducing bacteria in your vagina during foreplay. Don't also be tempted to insert soap inside the vagina. Douches and scented soaps also alter the pH of your vagina, exposing you to infections.

Spread your vaginal lips and wash gently around the folds. And always ensure that you wipe front to back to avoid introducing bacteria from the anus into the vagina. Don't also forget to pee after sex as it reduces the risk of bacteria sitting around and causing infections.

2. Don't insert food in your vagina

Food is meant to be eaten and the vagina is not a mouth. Don't fall for some popular myths like using lemon juice to tighten your vagina or inserting garlic cloves or yoghurt to treat candidiasis. Introducing foreign objects in your vagina leaves you exposed to various infections. There is also the risk of something getting stuck down there, and the embarrassment of going to have it removed by the doctor. Instead, eat foods that leave your vagina happy, like yoghurt, cranberry juice, fresh fruit and good old water. Your vagina is what you eat.

3. Go commando

Yes, you can get rid of your panties, especially when sleeping. You could also choose to sleep in loose cotton pants or shorts. The idea is to avoid moisture or sweat being trapped on your skin as it can create a good breeding ground for yeast and bacterial growth. Invest in good cotton underwear, which is not only breathable and kind to your vagina but also comfy as well.

4. Condomise

Using condoms correctly not only prevents unplanned pregnancies but also protects you from STIs, including the dreaded super gonorrhea. Don't sacrifice your sexual health at the altar of instant gratification. Remember that some STIs like HIV and genital herpes have no cure. Sex is still enjoyable when wearing a condom. Besides, there are so many brands that promise maximum pleasure, not to mention the option of skin condoms that promise not to compromise on sensation.

5. Get sufficient foreplay

If you have sex before you are well lubricated, it can end up being painful or irritating the vagina. Work on your foreplay so that you are sufficiently lubricated. In case you are not producing enough lubricant for any reason, opt for a good water-based lube.

6. See a doctor when in doubt

It is very important to see your doctor when you experience any unusual symptoms down there. When you are familiar with your vagina, you will always know when something is off. Any abnormal discharges, pain, bad odours, warts, growths or unusual appearance should be urgently addressed by your doctor. Don't take any chances with your sexual health.

While at it, ensure you go for your pap smears for routine screening.

Cheers to a happy vagina!


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