Vaginal health is one of those topics people with ovaries like to gloss over. For sure, opening a conversation with your girls with “my vagina is not happy right now, ladies – I have the worst yeast infection,” might not seem like the most natural progression from last night’s antics, but it certainly deserves the discourse.
Especially as when women start to experience signs of infection, discomfort or the ever so lovely, discharge, the first thing they do is Google and find an immense offering of misinformation. The internet and Instagram, as well as society and the patriarchy, have tricked us into thinking that we should cleanse and smell like freshly baked cookies. We shouldn’t.
Douching, steam-bathing, deodorising – all of the above is extremely unnecessary. Yet they continue to be packaged and marketed as an essential part of genital hygiene. These products essentially offer a way to keep yourself all neat and clean. This is not true. We repeat: not true. The vagina contains delicate bacterial balances and self-cleaning mechanisms that really don’t need your interference, it’s all good on its own – it can do its own damn maintenance.
Saying this, there are some external circumstances that can lead to imbalances in pH levels which can make your girl unhappy, and this is where a little interference can go a long way. But make sure you’ve done your research, and please, please do not use anything on your bits that’s scented. She won’t like that at all.
Now we got the ‘what not to do’ out the way, here’s what you should do if you’ve noticed something is a little off.
Look at your diet
We eat certain foods for our brains and our muscles, so why does the vagina get left out. There are a number of foods that can impact vaginal health, and this can be anything from causing a yeast infection or even some unwanted odour. First things to cut out? Sugary or fried foods, vegetables such as onions, asparagus and broccoli (side note – any food that can give you bad breath can cause vaginal odour), and sadly, coffee and alcohol too.
Opt for cotton underwear and forget tight jeans
It may sound slightly silly, but when you think about it, it makes sense that the tighter the jeans, the bigger the problem. From chafing and itching, there’s a lot that can go wrong with denim. Experts have long agreed that yeast infections such as thrush can occur in part thanks to tight clothing. That’s underwear too, ladies. The optimal pant for vaginal health is an organic cotton-constructed brief. G-strings and spray-on jeans are a no go.
Take some good bacteria
To avoid infections and maintain a healthy balance down there, look to “good” bacteria to support vaginal pH. Probiotics are the best way to do this, and you can even get this in yoghurt, pickled vegetables such as kimchi, as well as supplements. Just remember, maintaining requires a consistent probiotic intake, and has also been found to help with recurring bacterial vaginosis (BV – perhaps the least fun of the vaginal infections) as well.