All women need to take action with regard to their intimate health. A healthy vagina is naturally acidic and contains large quantities of beneficial bacteria that help defend against infections and maintain normal pH levels.
8 natural tips for feminine hygiene and intimate health
If your vagina is healthy, it also secretes small amounts of discharge or fluid to keep itself clean, just like saliva is produced to clean your mouth. Any interference with these natural conditions can lead to irritation and/or vaginal infections.
Maintain balanced pH without vaginal douches
Vaginal douches can interfere with the pH levels of your intimate area, reducing acidity and setting the stage for bacterial infections. Normally, the pH of the vagina is approximately 3.8 to 4.5. If your intimate areas have a strong or unpleasant odor, consult your doctor; a douche will only mask the odor without curing the problem that is causing it. If your intimate hygiene includes the use of soap or strong cleansers on the vulva or vagina, avoid them, since these can also affect healthy pH balance.
Maintain a healthy diet for intimate health
You might not realize it, but a balanced and nutritious diet along with drinking lots of liquids is key for vaginal and reproductive health. In fact, certain foods can be effective in the treatment of health problems related to your genitals. Cranberry juice and yogurt can potentially help prevent fungal infections and help to treat them.
Practice safe sex to avoid harmful bacteria
The use of condoms during intimate relations helps protect against sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV, genital herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea, genital warts and chlamydia. Some of these diseases, like HIV and genital herpes, have no cure. And others, like Human Papilloma Virus, which causes genital warts, are also known to cause cancer or lead to other illnesses. You should change condoms when changing from one type of sexual activity to another with your partner to prevent introducing harmful bacteria into the vagina.
Visit your gynecologist for preventive care
Getting regular gynecological exams is crucial for maintaining intimate health. All women should have their first gynecological exam around the age of 21 or within 3 years of becoming sexually active. Gynecologists and many family doctors are trained to diagnose diseases and disorders that can damage the vagina or the reproductive system as a whole. Gynecologists also perform Pap smear tests, which can detect changes in vaginal cells that may indicate the presence of cancer.
For intimate health and hygiene, treat infections that may arise
Three types of vaginal infections are common: fungal (yeast) infection, bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis. Fungal infections are caused by various types of fungi, while bacterial vaginosis is caused by overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina. Trichomoniasis is transmitted through sexual contact. Treating infections is crucial, especially this one, because not treating them can lead to reproductive health problems that are unpleasant, painful and serious. All three can be treated with oral or topical medications.
Use enough lubricant, but not commercial Vaseline
Lubrication is an important part of intimate relations. Without it, the skin of the labia and vagina can become irritated, sometimes to the point of bleeding. While lubrication is generally produced naturally during feminine sexual excitement, some women don’t produce sufficient natural lubricant. In this case, women should use an artificial lubricant to reduce friction and irritation, and to increase pleasure. Avoid commercial Vaseline and other oil based products for this, since they can cause the latex in male condoms to degrade and can also cause infection.
Choose clothes carefully to stay dry
Your vagina should be kept clean and dry – and what you wear can affect that. Certain types of fabric and styles of clothing used near the genitals can increase heat and moisture, and can lead to excessive bacterial growth and infections. Use cotton underwear during the day, and avoid thongs. Try not to wear very tight clothing, and change out of wet bathing suits and sweaty workout clothes as quickly as possible.
Use good feminine intimate hygiene
Common sense can help protect the health of your vagina. After defecating, wipe from front to back to avoid contaminating the vagina with fecal bacteria and to decrease the risk of urinary tract infection. Change sanitary napkins regularly during menstruation. When you don’t have your period, try to limit your use of daily pads or protection to absorb normal vaginal fluid, which trap lots of moisture and heat near the vagina and can result in infection.