Believe it or not, your vagina needs your attention. From menstruation to menopause, it completes a full cycle and often it requires your help to keep it clean and healthy. Here are several tips to maintain proper vaginal health.
1. Change sanitary pads after 4-6 hours
During your periods, pads or sanitary napkins should be changed as often as necessary to prevent the pad from getting soaked with menstrual flow. One can wear a pad overnight or for six hours or more during the day. If you have a heavy flow, you need to change your pads more often, so remember to keep your supplies handy when you’re away from home. Another great tip is using organic pads as they don’t contain plastic and chemicals like the regular ones; therefore reducing the chances of skin irritation, allergies and rashes. Once you get through your first period, you’ll understand what works for you – there is no fixed formula as every woman is unique.
2. Avoid using scented soaps while washing you vagina
Your vagina is extremely sensitive so you should avoid using perfumed soaps, gels and antiseptics in that area. These can affect the healthy balance of bacteria in the vagina and moreover, can also lead to a change in the pH in the vaginal region, causing irritation. Not only that but this can also lead to the growth of unhealthy bacteria. Keep in mind to always use plain, unscented soaps to wash the area around the vagina (the vulva) gently every day.
3. Always pee after intercourse
We can’t stress this enough! Pee after having sex guys! Don’t worry, you don’t have to rush to the washroom right away. But urinating within 30 mins of intercourse can protect you from infections like UTIs (urinary tract infections). Urinating dislodges bacteria before it becomes a full-fledged infection and helps in keeping your urinary tract clean. This also helps in ensuring that all particles from condoms or bacterias are flushed out of your body.
4. Avoid Douching
Often, women think they need to clean inside their vagina after sex with water or prepackaged fluids. Even though that may sound like a good idea with regards to hygeine, douching can lead to more infections since it upsets the natural balance of bacteria that protect your vagina. The best way to take care of your vagina after sex is to leave it alone as it cleans itself naturally. Also, a mild smell is normal and in most cases is not a sign of a problem.
The key to good vaginal hygiene is to ensure that your external pubic area (not the vagina itself) remains as dry as possible because moisture can promote the growth of bacteria. Always avoid wearing tight-fitting pants that restrict the air circulation in the vaginal area. Try to wear clothes that allow your vaginal area to breathe. Choose cotton underwear over synthetic fibres. You can also change your underwear twice a day if you have extra discharge to avoid sitting in damp underwear. Also, it’s healthy to sleep without underwear at night (when you aren’t menstruating, of course) because you need to let your insides breathe. So just toss that panty in the laundry pile, put on some jammies and let her breathe, ladies!
6. Pay attention to the ingredients
If you are inserting anything into your vagina, pay attention to the ingredients. Scented tampons and lube should be avoided; and always make sure to use toys that are made from body-safe materials like medical grade silicone.
7. Visit your doctor regularly
It might sound daunting at first, but getting yourself regularly checked is essential to maintain vaginal health. Get regular STI check-ups (every time you change sexual partner or once a year, if not) and don’t neglect cervical screenings.