Vaginal health is often a topic of concern for most women. Not only that, it is also common for women to be concerned about whether or not they should shave or wax their pubic hair. Also, many can be self-conscious from time to time about vaginal odor. We hope to address some of these concerns along with tips to keep your vagina healthy.
Vagina & Vulva
Let’s start by distinguishing between a vagina and a vulva. Often people use the term “vagina” to refer to or discuss their genitals, which includes the vulva. The vagina serves as the birth canal, connecting to the cervix. As the vulva refers to the external area of the genitals, visible It encompasses the clitoris, urethra, and labia.
It’s crucial to understand the distinction between the vulva and vagina because their cellular compositions differ, and certain diseases affect either the vagina or the vulva specifically.
Tips For Maintaining A Healthy Vagina & Vulva
Prioritize Overall Well-being
Maintaining a balanced diet, managing weight, and engaging in exercise not only benefits your entire body but also supports the health of your sexual organs.
Be aware that uncontrolled chronic conditions pose risks to your genital organs. For instance, poorly managed diabetes increases the likelihood of yeast infections and urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Stay up to date with health screenings and seek routine care from your gynecologist. Depending on your age will determine how often you should require a Pap smear along with your reproductive health history and previous Pap smear results. The HPV vaccination is especially important for reducing cervical cancer risk in younger individuals.
- Safeguard yourself against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unplanned pregnancies.
- Use condoms with any new sexual partner.
- If you or your partner has a latex allergy there are alternative condom options available.
The vagina is a self-cleaning organ. Avoid using harsh chemicals, prepackaged wipes, or douching as they can disrupt its natural processes.
- After urinating or a bowel movement, wipe with toilet paper from front to back.
- If necessary, using a mild soap is acceptable for your external genitalia.
- Most products marketed to enhance cleanliness or scent lack scientific evidence and can lead to other issues.
- If you have sensitive skin it is best to be cautious of soaps, shampoos, laundry detergents, dryer sheets, and certain lubricants, as they may irritate.
Your Gynecologist Visit – No Special Grooming Required
- There’s no need to groom or pamper your private area excessively before a gynecologist appointment.
- Showering is all that is necessary (again use mild soaps).
- Shaving or trimming your pubic hair is a personal preference. However, pubic hair is meant to reduce friction during sexual activity and helps to keep your genitals free of pathogens.
Consider Natural Lubricants
- If you have sensitive skin or multiple allergies, coconut oil or olive oil may be suitable lubricants and vaginal moisturizers.
- Silicone or water-based lubricants are also viable alternatives.
- When using a latex condom, opt for water-based or silicone lubricants.
Never Disregard Postmenopausal Bleeding
- Postmenopausal bleeding refers to vaginal bleeding that occurs a year or more after your last menstrual period.
- It can indicate vaginal dryness, noncancerous growths (polyps), cancer, or other reproductive system changes.
- If you ever experience bleeding after menopause, seek an evaluation from your doctor.
Remember, Prolapse and Incontinence Are Typically Not Dangerous
- Pelvic organ prolapse, caused by weakened internal supports of the uterus, vagina, bladder, and rectum over time, can result from vaginal deliveries and aging.
- Another common issue is urinary incontinence or bladder leakage.
- If you have any difficulty emptying your bladder or bowels, or experience pain or bleeding, it’s time to seek medical care.
- Pelvic floor exercises, such as Kegels are beneficial.
While it’s common to be concerned about maintaining vaginal health and cleanliness, the reality is that it really doesn’t require much effort. If you have any uncertainty or concerns, it is always best to consult with your healthcare provider.
Here at GYN Women’s Centre of Lakewood Ranch, we are here to help with any concerns about your reproductive health. Your health matters to us and we are always happy to help you maintain optimal health.