How to Keep Your Vagina Healthy?
What constitutes a healthy vagina? Is my vagina healthy? What can I do to ensure my vagina is as healthy as possible? These are important questions that we think all women should know the answer to, which is why in this article, we’re delving into the world of vulva and vaginal health and hygiene. From the best cleansing practices to the lowdown on probiotics, keep reading to discover our five rules for a healthy vagina.
Why vaginal pH Matters
While discharge is one key indicator of vaginal health, another marker is pH balance, and it’s this that we’ll be exploring today. Knowing what a “normal” pH balance is, what an abnormally high pH balance can lead to, and what can cause such a change is imperative in keeping your nether regions as healthy as possible at all times. In case you also have trouble remembering grade school science, pH is a measure of how acidic or alkaline (basic) something is. The scale spans 0 to 14, with less than 7 being acidic and over 7 being basic. How exactly does this relate to your Vagina? Well, if your Vagina’s pH level is too high, it can become a breeding ground for unhealthy bacteria, which can lead to infection. To clarify, a typical Vaginal pH level falls between 3.8 and 4.5. Bear in mind, most cleansers and body washes have a pH as high as 9 or 10. Try South intimate skin cleanser that is pH balanced and gentle enough for your most delicate parts.
These pH numbers aren’t a hard and fast rule, as age can affect this range, but generally most Vaginas are moderately acidic. This acidity acts as a protective barrier, preventing unhealthy bacteria from multiplying too quickly. Thus, when your pH level rises above 4.5, it puts you at risk for certain infections, such as:
The good news is that if you don’t experience any of the above symptoms, your pH is more than likely normal, so there’s no need to worry about it. In addition, all of the above infections are not only easily treatable, but extremely common (in fact, studies show that roughly 75% of women have had a yeast infection at some point in their adult life). So, if you think you have one, stay calm and speak to your doctor immediately. They will likely prescribe a dose of anti-fungal medication or antibiotics in either pill or cream form.
Now that you know the risks of an abnormal pH balance, it’s time we discuss what you can do to ensure your Vagina is as healthy as possible at all times.
Rule #1: Understanding Probiotics
Your Vagina is filled with bacteria. That is a fact. Although that might make you feel uneasy, we’re here to remind you that this is a good thing. Actually, it’s beyond good, it’s necessary if you wish your Vagina to be healthy. However, the beneficial bacteria in your Vagina is a delicate balance, and when this balance is disrupted, it can lead to infection. That is where Vaginal probiotics come in. Probiotic supplements are marketed as a way of introducing bacteria into your vagina that will improve your health. But do they actually work? We will be the first to admit that studies on the subject are somewhat limited. However, there is reason to believe that many women could benefit from probiotics, especially those prone to infection. For example, if you’ve had bacterial vaginosis too many times to count, taking a probiotic supplement might prevent the overgrowth of harmful organisms that contribute to the infection, reducing your risk of contracting it again. If you have questions about probiotics, consult a health care professional!
Rule #2: Say No to Douching
Douching is a huge no-no when it comes to vaginal health. It is actually one of the most common causes of a high vaginal pH level. The reason for this being that douching reduces the acidity of the vagina and washes out the “good” bacteria, paving the way for harmful bacteria to take up residence. If you want your vagina to be healthy, you’re going to need to swear off this cleansing method for good. So, what is the best way to wash your Vagina? Turns out, the answer is by not washing it at all! Vaginas truly are magic, evidenced by the fact that they clean themselves (ever heard the “self-cleaning oven” metaphor?). In fact, trying to clean your vagina with soap, a wipe, or through douching only stands to hinder its ability to clean itself. That said, your vulva (aka the outer parts of the vagina) can be washed with warm water and gentle products that won’t affect your pH balance. (Our fave is South probiotic intimate skin cleanser)
Rule #3: Embrace Fermented Foods
Did you know that the food you eat might have an effect on the health of your vagina (and more specifically, on your vagina’s pH balance)? It’s true! Not only is a nutritious diet key to keeping your entire body healthy, but certain foods that contain “good” bacteria like probiotics may be able to help balance vaginal pH levels and reduce your risk of bacterial infection. Some research has indicated that yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, can help prevent yeast infections owing to its high lactobacilli content. Fermented food and drinks are also high in probiotics, such as kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, kombucha, and tempeh. Further, consuming foods with Prebiotic's may help stabilize vaginal pH levels by promoting the growth of healthy bacteria. Such foods include onions, leeks, garlic, soybeans, and bananas. Oppositely, we recommend going easy on sweets as too much sugar can kill important bacteria and promote the growth of yeast in the vagina.
Rule #4: Practice Safe Sex
Safe sex is vital when it comes to a healthy vagina. Using a condom will only serve you (and your vagina) well, as it will help protect against a whole host of STIs, such as gonorrhoea, genital warts, syphilis, and chlamydia. Remember to switch out condoms if you alternate between vaginal and anal sex, and clean sex toys between uses. In addition, using a condom through the duration of intercourse will prevent semen from entering the vagina. Opposite of the vagina, semen is slightly alkaline or basic (it typically has a pH between 7.2 and 8). Thus, when alkaline semen enters the vagina, it is possible that it will alter your pH balance, putting you more at risk of infection.
Rule #5: Visit Your Doctor on the Regular
Hands down the best way to keep your vagina healthy is by scheduling regular check-ups with your doctor or gynaecologist. Preventative care is the most effective method of maintaining a healthy vagina. We recommend making a standing appointment at least once a year. With an appointment already made, you’ll be more motivated to go even when you don’t think anything’s wrong. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
There you have it - our five golden rules for vaginal health. We hope this article has opened your eyes to the world of pH levels, “good” bacteria, and the best practices to keep these in check. Cheers to a healthy vagina!
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