I love how much the world is changing to promote body confidence for women of all shapes and sizes. More women are sharing information and starting conversations that can empower others but one topic that’s still rarely discussed is the matter of feminine hygiene and what vaginal health really means.
But it shouldn’t be. Vaginas are the canals responsible for the human race – this is one topic that should be a priority. Centuries of patriarchy and media framing has led us to believe that vaginas are down-right unclean and that vaginal concerns should be raised privately. But educating ourselves and other women on how to maintain vaginal health can help prevent a lot of unwanted infections.
Did you know that 30% of women have vaginal infections and they don’t even know it?
Our vaginas are naturally acidic, containing good bacteria that protects against bad bacteria. A healthy level of acidity should be a pH level of between 3.8 and 4.52 but when the acidity level of your vagina rises above or below those levels, your risk of developing a bacterial infection increases considerably. A common bacterial infection that women develop is bacterial vaginosis.
What is Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)?
It’s an infection that causes white discharge and a ‘fishy’ odour to come from your vagina, due to the imbalance of good and bad bacteria. Studies show that 20% of women who have BV think that it’s actually a yeast infection – herein lies the problem. The more you get to know your body and understand the symptoms of a condition, the faster you will be able to treat it.
Sometimes we overdo ‘good’ habits in order to stay healthy and relaxed but this does more harm to our bodies. A simple example could be regularly unwinding in a hot bubble bath that smells of lavender and honey. While this may seem like a great way to unwind, the fragrance ingredients in bubble bath can increase the risk of developing a vaginal infection. Here are some other things to look out for:
Feminine Hygiene Hacks
- Wear breathable clothing
Tight leather pants and skinny jeans are the craze but your vagina won’t be happy. Breathable clothing helps reduce body sweat down there and keep your vag healthy.
- Avoid using perfumed soaps
This is a difficult one since fragranced soaps and bubble bath add to the fresh, clean, shower feeling. Unfortunately, perfumed soaps aren’t good for you.
- Wipe from front to back when using the toilet
Reduce the level of bad bacteria that enters your vagina by rubbing from front to back with toilet paper after using the toilet. Wiping in the opposite direction could cause fecal bacteria to enter your vagina.
- Don’t douche
This is when you spray water up your vagina to keep it clean. The spraying action could actually be too harsh and cause the good bacteria to disappear as well. It’s a no to douching.
- Always change into fresh clothing after exercise
I’m sure that you already do this but just in case – try not to leave sweaty clothing on your body for too long because it can lead to infection. The best way to do this is to shower immediately after training and change into clean clothes.
- Take a shower after intercourse
After having sex, even when you’ve used a condom, bacteria may develop near your vagina so it’s best to take a shower.
- Change sanitary products frequently during menstruation
There may be extreme cases when you’re stuck in traffic for hours or trekking in the middle of nowhere without a bin in sight, forgive yourself in those cases but you should always change your tampon, pad or menstrual cup every 3 to 4 hours regardless of how heavy or light your flow is.
- Eat healthily
If you’re already healthy, your body will be able to work harder and faster at beating an intruding infection. Eat your veggies, girl.
- Stay hydrated
Just as water keeps our bodies clean externally, drinking 1- 2 litres of water a day will help you flush out bad toxins and fight infections faster.
10. Opt for cotton underwear
If you’re a lady who loves thongs and wearing tights under your clothing, be mindful that tight underwear can cause irritation of your nether region and increase your risk of infection.
Test your vaginal health with a quick symptoms assessment, here.
If you think that you may have Bacterial Vaginosis, speak to a healthcare professional or go to www.myvaginalgel.co.za to find out more about this treatable condition.