Vaginal health is something we seldom talk about. Aside from covering the public toilet seats with a seat cover/toilet paper and wiping from front to back, there is not much out there in terms of general vaginal health advice. This is unfortunate, as the vagina is an extremely important part of the body and should be cared for as such. Since the vagina serves as an entry and exit for objects and fluids, it is highly susceptible to damage and infections. Luckily most vaginal infections and conditions are preventable with relatively simple lifestyle changes.
Tips for a healthy and happy vagina
- But first, the inner work – The basis of all good health, no matter where in the body, begins with what you put into your body. Try to maintain a clean diet 80% of the time; this means a diet abundant in local and raw plants (organic when possible), clean protein sources, healthy fats, and plenty of water. Steer clear of fast foods and packaged foods to avoid artificial flavours and colours, excess sugars, and trans fats.
- Avoid douching and using scented products – The vagina is a self-cleaning organ and does not need intense cleansing routines. While douching may make you feel fresher, the risks outweigh the benefits. Regular douching may increase your risk of bacterial vaginosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, pregnancy complications, and cervical cancer. Scented products such as scented tampons may also increase the risk of swelling, rashes, and irritation.
- Choose breathable cotton underwear over thongs – The vagina is a warm, moist environment.. perfect for bacteria to thrive in. Cotton allows the area to breathe, therefore decreasing the risk of bacterial overgrowth. Thongs should not be worn for long periods of time as they also increase the risk of introducing fecal bacteria to the delicate vaginal areas.
- Avoid oral sex or sharing sex toys with someone who may have a bacterial vaginosis. If you or your partner has BV, avoid sex for the duration of therapy to limit transferring the bacteria.
- Have regular health checkups – While it may feel embarrassing to talk about vaginal issues, do not let it prevent you from talking with your doctor about any concerns that you have.
While every vagina and its needs are unique, following these basic steps can help create a healthier vaginal environment. Always consult with your healthcare practitioner if you notice any different odors, discharges, or have any other concerns.
Dr. Esha Singh, ND Naturopathic Physician