There are so many factors that can upset your vagina’s natural balance — from using condoms to taking antibiotics. Everyone's vagina is different, so how do you know what's normal and what's not? If your Lady V is feeling out of sorts, read on to find out why. Here are 8 genius ways to keep your vagina happy, healthy and on an even keel.
The vagina is a sensitive thing. One small change in her routine can completely throw her off balance. And when she’s angry, you’ll be the first one to know about it. Unfortunately, as you well know, there are quite a few things that can tip her over the edge. No wonder we pose the same question multiple times a month – "is my vagina normal?".
So whether you suffer from thrush, BV, vaginal dryness or a weak pelvic floor — oh, the joys of being a woman — there are plenty of ways to keep her in a good mood.
Here’s your essential guide to keeping your vagina healthy and happy.
1. Don’t douche
As much as we want our nether regions to smell like fragrant rose petals, washing with scented shower gels or soaps can actually upset your vagina’s natural pH balance. Vagina’s are not only sensitive, they’re clever, and actually have the ability to clean themselves. They do this by balancing healthy bacteria and pH levels on their own — so no douching required. Introducing new chemicals can upset the balance and increase the risk of a number of infections and irritations like BV, thrush, pelvic inflammatory disease and some STIs.
Certain foods can also affect your natural scent, so avoid things like sugar, alcohol, coffee, asparagus, onions, cheese, fried food and refined carbs and opt for healthier alternatives like plain yoghurt, concentrated cranberry juice, water, fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut, garlic, nuts and healthy fats like avocado and olive oil.
Whilst you can’t clean your vagina, you can however clean your vulva. Warm water is fine, but if you don’t want to go soap-free, use an unscented, gentle soap or intimate feminine wash like Vagisil or Femfresh. Natural alternatives are also effective.
2. Use condoms with new partners
Not only do condoms protect you against STI’s, they also help keep your vagina's pH level steady during sex, so all the good bacteria that's in there remains healthy and balanced.
However, do be sure to check the ingredients. Some condoms are made using spermicides, which aren’t very healthy for the vagina as they kill good bacteria in there too. That’s important to her in mind, since those little bacteria help prevent yeast infections, UTIs, and bacterial vaginosis, so you want to try your best to keep them well balanced.
3. Use lube
Vaginal dryness is totally normal and extremely common. Pregnancy, menopause and certain medications like antihistamines, antidepressants, or hormonal birth control can cause dryness, so using a lubricant during sex will make it all the more pleasurable. Just like condoms, some lubes may upset the pH balance in your vagina, so if you’re sensitive, be sure to avoid certain ingredients like parabens, scents, flavours, non-natural oils and dyes. Unrefined coconut oil works as a great natural alternative as it doesn’t have any added chemicals or toxins. You can’t use with condoms, however, as it weakens the latex. When using condoms, stick to water-based or silicone-based lubes to stay on the safe side.
4. Wear cotton underwear
When it comes to wearing undies, your vagina has a preference: cotton. Cotton lets air in and absorbs moisture, allowing your vagina to breathe and reduce the amount of bacterial growth. Try not to wear underwear in bed — it’s a great way to let your vagina breathe freely — and avoid wearing g-strings or tight-fitting underwear to prevent any further infections from developing.
5. Be careful with antibiotics
Whilst antibiotics are great at killing off bad bacteria, they also kill off all the good bacteria, too. This upsets the natural flora balance (the good bacteria in your vagina), which can cause yeast and other infections. If you’re concerned, speak to your doctor who will be able to advise you on alternative medication.
If you do have to take antibiotics, our pharmacist Daniel Zhou recommends taking a probiotic to ensure your vagina’s natural flora remains in balance and to protect against yeast infections.
Try one of the recommended probiotics below:
BioCeuticals SB Floractiv 30 Capsules
Inner Health On The Go 30 Capsules
Life-Space Women's Microflora 60 Capsules
6. Pee after sex
Peeing after sex can help prevent UTIs. It’s thought to help flush out bacteria before it can travel to the bladder, so it means introduces the risk of yo developing a painful UTI. Plus, it means you can discreetly clean yourself after sex, preventing any further bacteria growth.
7. Keep your pubic hair
We know you want to stay trim down there, but your pubic hair is there for a reason — it protects you from extra bacteria, and also eliminates any issues related to friction and sweating — so it’s better to keep a little so it can do its job properly.
8. Do Kegel exercises
Kegel exercises can help tone and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which in turn helps to reduce the strain on your pelvic organs and improve bladder and bowel function. They can also make orgasms more intense, too. Even more reason.
Make them part of your daily routine, and try to work up to one set of 10 Kegels two to three times a day, holding each one for three seconds.
Loved our advice on vaginal health? We've got plenty more women's health advice on our Health & Wellness Edit, guaranteed to give your body a well-deserved boost. Suffer with dry skin? Here's how to keep it hydrated in winter. Ever wondered what the most Googled health questions in the world are? Drumroll please...