So how often do you think about your vagina? Are you cringing right now at the very mention of the word? Do you have a preferred name for that area that you find more ‘palatable’? A round robin in our office provided the following: Fanny, fou fou, front bottom, minge, fairy, wookie, lady garden, muff (when its hairy!)……….or do you just avoid saying anything and perhaps point ‘down there’ instead?
I’m as guilty as the next person at avoiding saying the word ‘vagina’. Growing up our family ‘name’ for girls’ privates was ‘brinte’ (not a clue why, passed down from my Mums’ Mum) and until I got rumbled at school, I genuinely thought that was the proper name. So why do we find the word so embarrassing?
As my daughter is on the verge of puberty, I have decided to embrace the word ‘vagina’ and talk about all things ‘vaginal’ in an open and straightforward manner. We’re happy to say the word ‘penis’, so why not ‘vagina’?
Our vaginas are amazing. They have a built-in mechanism for self-cleaning. They are tough enough to withstand the rigours of child-birth and yet sensitive enough to enable us to experience pleasure. But, they let us down sometimes and can be a complete pain; which is why we need to look after them and not just ignore them. In the same way we look after the skin on our faces and bodies, lavishing care and nourishment in the form of cleansers and moisturisers, so too do we need to pay some attention to our vaginas. The more familiar we are with our private parts the sooner we’ll notice anything amiss.
So today let’s big up our Vaginas and show them some love
10 easy ways to show some love for your vagina
Don’t wash your vagina with soap
Using soaps on the inside of your vagina can upset the healthy level of bacteria and pH levels and cause irritation. You can use soap on the outside of your vagina around the groin area, but the inside is self-cleaning so you can really leave it to do its thing. And while we’re at it- douching is a big no-no too! It can wash out all the good bacteria, which can lead to nasty infections.
Avoid frequent use of scented bubble bath
It’s lovely to have a nice long soak occasionally, but frequent use of scented bubble baths can, like with soaps and douching, upset the pH balance in your vagina, which can lead to infections such as thrush or bacterial vaginosis, which can become itchy and sore.
Keep some pubic hair – it protects it from getting scratched and sore during sex
It can be a pain in the front-bum sometimes, but pubic hair is essential to the health of your vagina, as well as the whole genital area. It protects the delicate skin around the entrance of the vagina and the vulva from friction and scratching during sex. So whilst there is an increasing trend for ‘hollywood’ style bikini waxing where everything is removed, it is much healthier to keep some pubic hair ‘down there’…….go for a brazilian or ‘tidy up’ instead.
Have more sex or use a vibrator
Yes, really! Vaginal secretions produced when we’re aroused help keep the skin in the vagina moisturised and elastic, which can help prevent vaginal atrophy, particularly in post-menopausal women. Some studies also suggest it can help strengthen the pelvic floors and prevent vaginal prolapse. And it’s the best way to boost your libido! Winners all round…
Eat your vagina healthy!
Help to keep your vagina hydrated by eating foods high in water like cucumbers. Green tea has fantastic health benefits, and as well as helping to keep you and your vagina hydrated, it can also help to prevent painful UTI’s. And don’t forget those probiotic treats like plain yoghurt, kimchi and miso. They help keep the balance of healthy bacteria in our bodies, which could keep those nasty thrush or BV infections at bay.
Use a natural lubricant/moisturiser
Keeping our skin healthy and moisturised is an important part of our daily skincare regime, but how often do you think about doing the same for your vagina? Our vaginas do produce natural secretions which vary through the month, but hormonal changes due to stress, pregnancy, menopause and various other factors can upset the balance, leading to vaginal dryness. So look after your vagina the same way you look after the skin on your hands and face by applying a good quality lubricant like Sylk Natural Intimate Moisturiser as part of your daily regime. And don’t forget to look after your vulva too; dryness can also affect the labia and clitoris, so a little bit of Sylk can be applied there for comfort too.
Change your tampon regularly
Leaving your tampon in for too long can cause discomfort, create a fishy odour and worst case scenario, lead to Toxic Shock Syndrome. The last is very rare; there are only 1 to 17 reported cases per 100,000 menstruating women per year. If you have left your tampon in for too long your vagina may feel dry and scratchy. If this happens, give yourself some tampon-free time and use a pad for a few hours and perhaps even a bit of lubricant/vaginal moisturiser which will make you feel more comfortable. You should change your tampon around 4-5 times a day and ideally, use a pad overnight to keep your vagina match fit.
Tone that pelvic floor
If you find that, post kids, you sometimes ‘wee’ a little if you cough, sneeze or do some kind of activity (which can be embarrassing sans tena) then you need to do pelvic floor exercises. These exercises should help improve your bladder control and sensitivity during sex. You can feel your pelvic floor muscles if you try to stop the flow of urine when going to the toilet. To strengthen your pelvic floor, squeeze those muscles 10-15 times in a row. Do not clench your tummy, bum or thigh muscles. If, like many women, you don’t know what to do, or how you should be feeling when attempting pelvic floor exercises, then take a look at the wonderful Holistic Core Restore programmes offered by specialist instructors around the country who teach you how to look after the whole of your core, of which the pelvic floor is an integral part.
Exercise – get the blood flowing
We all know that exercise is good for us, but did you know it’s good for your vagina too? The increased blood flow will help keep the vagina healthy and in tip-top shape. Regular exercise can help keep your hormones balanced too, which in turn will help to keep your vagina healthy.
Get to know your vagina and vulva
Everyone’s vaginas are different. No two are the same. Just like regularly checking your breasts it is wise to regularly check your vagina internally, and the external vulvar area too. Obvious signs that something could be amiss are irregular bleeding, strong smelling odour, unusual discharge or itchiness. If you experience any of these, you should go and see your GP. You should also have a feel around your vulva to check for any unusual lumps or rashes……even use a hand held mirror and lie on your back and have a look! If you do this on a regular basis, like with your breasts, then you will know if something doesn’t feel or look right. The Eve Appeal website is a good source of information. I also recommend checking out this fantastic guide to getting to know your vagina and vulva. It’s a great resource for all things woman too.