More than the entryway to the female reproductive system, the vagina is the gatekeeper for female health. The vagina should be kept clean and dry through proper hygiene and wearing breathable fabrics. Vaginal health will affect a woman’s entire being, not just the body. Yeast infections, STDs, and any general irritations will have great affects on a woman’s psyche and mood. There are many dos, but there are also many don’ts for a healthy vagina.
FACTORS THAT AFFECT HEALTH
The vagina is a very strong and resilient part of the body, but there are several factors that can affect the health of the vagina. These can include sex, pregnancy, childbirth, birth control, medication, and psychological issues. Various health conditions such as endometriosis, fibroids, and previous surgeries can also affect the elasticity and pH balance of the vagina.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS THAT SOMETHING IS WRONG
Every woman’s body is different and so is every vagina. One woman’s may be acidic while another’s is more alkaline. Simple care is all a vagina needs. No special scented washes or douches are necessary. Having healthy hygiene and paying attention to the body is essential and easy. Despite the differences, there are a handful of factors that are an indication that something is wrong. Redness, itching, or burning sensations, bleeding outside of the menstrual cycle, bleeding after sex, pain during sex, or change in the odor of vaginal discharge are all indications that something is not right.
Not all information about vaginas is true. Corporations will sell scented feminine washes to cover the natural smell. Some medical professionals will say a little pain during sex is normal and magazines will say every woman should orgasm during sex. Here are the top 6 myths about vaginal care.
MYTH #1: IT IS NECESSARY TO USE SPECIALIZED CLEANING PRODUCTS FOR THE VAGINA.
The vagina is self-cleaning. Using cleaning products can change the pH balance, resulting in vaginal infections. Just use a simple and, ideally, non-scented soap.
MYTH #2: SOME WOMEN JUST EXPERIENCE PAIN DURING SEX.
Pain during intercourse is a sign that something is not right. Sex should not be painful. Pain during sex can be a symptom of an underlying condition like pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or endometriosis.
MYTH #3: A TAMPON CAN GET LOST INSIDE THE BODY.
A tampon cannot get lost inside the female body. At the back of the vagina is the cervix, and the opening of the cervix is too small for a tampon to pass through. A tampon can move further inside the vagina, but the tampon cannot become lost inside the body.
MYTH#4: IF A WOMAN CANNOT EXPERIENCE AN ORGASM DURING VAGINAL INTERCOURSE, THEN SOMETHING IS WRONG.
Only a small percentage of women experience an orgasm from just vaginal sex alone. Most require some form of clitoral stimulation. Some doctors even argue that a vaginal orgasm does not exist and anything close likely results from some form of indirect or direct clitoral stimulation.
MYTH #5: IF THERE IS NO HYMEN, SHE IS NOT A VIRGIN.
While a hymen typically tears during sex for the first time, this is not always the case. Exercise and tampon use can also tear the hymen. In fact, some people are even born without one. On the flip side, a female can have sex with the hymen remaining intact. The hymen is very elastic and can stretch.
MYTH #6: THERE WILL ALWAYS BE SYMPTOMS WITH AN STD OR STI.
This might be the biggest myth of all. Just because there is not a symptom does not mean an STD or STI is not present. Human papillomavirus (HPV), chlamydia, and herpes can lay dormant for years and only be detectable by STD testing. For this very reason, routine STD testing is imperative.
SPEAK TO A HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
Neutral washes, being sexually responsible, and staying on top of vaccinations and medical care can benefit all females and all vaginas. Many of the myths previously thought to be true have been debunked. For more information on a healthy vagina and vaginal care, speak with a healthcare provider.