Let’s chat about vagina wellness.
In an ideal world, we’d be living large, and our vaginas would be clueless about our lifestyle. The truth is, though, just like your gut, your vagina responds to your overall health. You know those stints when you stop for fast food on the way home rather than fueling up with fresh fruits and veggies? It’s all good for a while, but, before you know it, your stomach hurts and your digestion is all out of whack.
That’s your gut saying whoa, something’s out of sync. Your vagina reacts the same way.
Inside your vagina, there’s a whole world of bacteria that needs to stay in balance. And, certain foods, supplements, and practices keep the peace down there. After all, you need good bacteria so you don’t get bacterial vaginosis (BV) and other infections. We’ll talk more about that in a sec.
Here are some ways to keep your vagina smiling from the inside out. And, some tips on what to do when it’s grumpy.
The Lowdown on Vaginal Care
We’re going to begin with your daily diet. That includes fluids too.
1. Eat colorfully
Eating a diet filled with sugar, refined flour, alcohol, and fried food can cause pH imbalances that can cause bacterial overgrowth and cause itching, burning, and other discomfort.
Here’s an alternative. Max out your vaginal health by going fresh: fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. To keep bacterial levels balanced, minimize sugar, and make sure you’re getting plenty of foods packed with probiotics to keep bacterial levels balanced. Think fermented foods, including sauerkraut, kombucha, and yogurt. Not a fan of sour stuff? There are a lot of good probiotic supplements out there that you should check out. By the way, you don’t have to swear off cookies, fries, or cocktails altogether. Just make sure you have whole foods in your fridge to stock up the good vaginal bacteria.
2. Fill your cup
You need to drink enough water to support your urinary healthy. It’s especially important if you want to prevent UTIs. Staying hydrated keeps your bacteria levels balanced and helps preserve vaginal moisture. Here’s what else it does:
• Increases your energy (for sex!)
• Bolsters blood flow to your vagina (increased arousal, anyone?)
• Keeps your mouth moist when kissing (no dry mouth here!)
Here’s the bottom line: More water now = more sexiness
Next, it’s time to dish on what to put on (and in) your vagina…
3. I can’t emphasize this one enough. Do not, I repeat, do not douche
Imagine your vagina as a self-cleaning oven. It produces secretions that naturally balance out your vagina’s pH. That makes it harder for the “bad” bacteria to infiltrate. When you kill off all the bacteria, though (the good stuff, too), with a douche, you’re messing with the natural balance.
Consider this. Up to 40 percent of unknowing women aged 15 to 44 use douches. (01) Let’s get the word out. Don’t douche! Douching disrupts your vagina’s pH levels, and it can cause repeated BV infections. It’s a bad idea.
4. Think about using a vaginal moisturizer
Lubes these days do double duty as vaginal moisturizers. Consider pH-balanced formulas that are kind to your delicate vagina, keeping its tissues supple and comfy. Lube prevents microtears during sex or chafing from leggings, thongs, and other tight clothes. You’re more susceptible to infections when you get tears in your vagina. Sure, moisturizers feel good. But, they also prevent outcomes that you would rather live without.
Here are some shopping tips. Check package labels for parabens, phthalates, petroleum, alcohol, and artificial fragrances. Any of those ingredients might irritate your vagina. Instead, look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid and vitamin E. Love Sesh and other lubes from the Playground line contain both.
5. Make sure that your lube loves you back
Choose a lube to use before and during sex that keeps your vagina healthy. Look for lubes with ingredients such as coconut oil that have antifungal and antibacterial properties. Those are awesome choices to keep your pH and microbial balance in check. Not to mention that your vagina will be happy in more ways than one!
Is your vagina imbalanced? Top 3 signs.
Infections and imbalances can happen, even if you care for your vagina like a pro. Here are the three most common signs, and how you can treat them. Experiencing any of the symptoms below? Get checked out. As with anything concerning your vagina, get an appointment with your gyno if anything seems out of whack,.
• Symptoms: Redness, swelling, itching, burning, painful peeing, painful sex.
• Causes: An overgrowth of candida, a type of fungus. Antibiotics (they kill off good and bad bacteria), hormonal changes from pregnancy or menopause, and diabetes (if it’s not under control, sugar highs can cause yeast growth in your vagina).
• Treatments: Topical antifungal meds and/or pills. You usually need a prescription for these. If you don’t have time for a doctor’s visit, telehealth may be the way to go for a quick script.
• Symptoms: Itching or burning when peeing. Slightly gray, white, or green discharge. Honestly, this one often comes with a not-so-great smell.
• Causes: It’s a myth that BV is caused by poor hygiene. It’s caused by an imbalance of both “good” and “bad” bacteria. Remember our discussion about douching? It writes off the good stuff too!
• Treatments: Topical antibiotics, vaginal antibiotic creams, or antibiotic pills. Same as yeast infections, you’ll need a doctor or telehealth visit and a prescription.
Urinary tract infection
• Symptoms: Burning (during urination or ongoing), cloudy urine, or painful spasms. Heads up that UTIs can be chronic. Some people have a really hard time kicking them, even after taking antibiotics, which is the go-to treament. UTIs need to be treated. They can turn into bladder or kidney infections. Nope, don’t want to go there.
• Causes: The most common cause is wiping front to back. Bacteria from the vagina or anus can enter your urinary tract and proliferate. Peeing after sex is also helpful. It flushes bacteria way from the urethra.
• Treatments: Antibiotics and over-the-counter meds that treat pain and balance out your bacteria levels.
Vagina troubles happen from time-to-time, even among the most diligent. Don’t sweat it if you’ve dealt with (or are currently dealing with) one of the issues above. Make sure to treat your infection and try upping your daily routine with these wellness tips. Also, some of the treatments, especially ones that contain antibiotics, can cause additional imbalances. That’s even more reason to work closely with a healthcare provider. Your gynecologist can help you with probiotics and anything else you can do to help get your vagina (and the rest of your bod) back in sync.
Then, you can look forward to living happily ever after with your vagina… and teach it a few lessons on the way.