Tips for Keeping Your Vulva and Vagina Healthy

vagina

Why, you may ask, is it important to know my vulva and vagina? Well, knowing these parts and how to keep them healthy and happy is paramount to your overall health and well-being. There is nothing more annoying or irritating than an infection or something else gone wrong down under.



First things first, let’s start with a quick anatomy lesson to get us all on the same page. Many people, maybe even you, think that a vulva and a vagina are the same thing. In reality they are two different parts of your body. Your vagina is actually an internal organ and your vulva is external and includes vaginal lips, clitoris, and the opening to the vagina. Both of these parts are extremely important and can become easily irritated.

Vulva
Now that we have that out of the way, here is some very important information about your vulva. Did you know that there are actually vulvar dermatologists that deal specifically with vulvas? There is also a National Vulvodynia Association where you can find a specialist if you need one.

So, your vulva is pretty important, and when things go wrong down there, it can be quite simply miserable. Here are just a few maintenance tips to keep your vulva in great shape.

Cleaning
Your vulva secretes thick oils that protect it from secretions and friction. If you wash too frequently with commercial products, you wash away these important oils. Too much washing will remove healthy bacteria that is necessary to maintain a healthy pH. Without this bacteria you are much more prone to infection. The best method for cleaning your vulva is to cup warm water in your hand and splash it over the area.

Shaving and waxing
Using a razor in a warm and moist environment like a shower creates the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. If you happen to nick yourself, it opens up the door for infection. To reduce the risk of nicks and cuts, use a natural shaving lotion with no chemicals or fragrances and use a new blade each time you shave.

Stay away from hair-dissolving chemicals also, as they can be very harsh on sensitive skin. Waxing, if done wrong, can actually burn your skin. If you wish to use an alternative method of hair removal, go for laser removal.

Managing dryness
Like any other part of your body, your vulva is prone to dryness, especially if you are perimenopausal or menopausal. Beware of lotions and creams — you don’t want them anywhere near your vulva. Instead try coconut oil, it will prevent dryness and moisturize at the same time.

Feminine hygiene products
Don’t be fooled by products claiming to deodorize and freshen. Your vulva does not need this serious kind of attention. Most of the time these products are laden with fragrances and dyes that end up irritating and can cause a serious allergic reaction. Because the vulva and vagina are hormone responsive tissues, this sensitivity increases after menopause and also during menstruation. Again, the only thing you really need is fresh water.

Sexy bedroom attire
Believe it or not, that pretty lingerie you love to wear may cause irritation, especially if it is made from anything other than 100-percent unbleached cotton. Synthetic fibers, dyes and elastic can be highly irritating, more so if you are allergic to rubber. Thongs are very hard on your vulva, but don’t fret, there are lots of really pretty organic underwear and lingerie to choose from.

Laundry
You may love for your laundry to smell amazing but it often comes at a cost, especially if you use commercial laundry products. Dyes and perfumes found in these products are very harsh and can cause intense irritation to delicate skin. Use only free and clear detergents for your undergarments.

Vagina
I bet you didn’t know that your vagina has a self-cleaning mechanism, which actually works very well if left alone. This mechanism works much like saliva in your mouth and equates to a small amount of discharge, that many people feel is actually a sign of infection.

A healthy vagina is naturally acidic and contains highly beneficial bacteria that fight off infection and keep pH levels normal. Here are just a few ways you can keep your vagina healthy and happy.

Washing
Always wash your vulva from front to back and not back to front. Use warm water only and no harsh soaps or other products containing fragrance or dyes. If you wish to use a little soap, use organic soap only. Never use a douche, this will only cause irritation.

Sanitary napkins
Choose sanitary napkins that are free from dyes or chemicals, and be sure to change your napkin every four hours.

Try a bidet
You can avoid all of the irritation of toilet paper, and save a few trees at the same time, if you use a bidet. Hand held versions are great if you don’t have a permanent one installed in your home. Fill your bidet with warm water and rinse each time you use the bathroom.

Change your underwear frequently
The more frequently you change your underwear, the better. In fact, if you work out, sweat a lot, or are prone to infection, change twice a day.

vagina Pee after sex
Always have a post-sex pee, even if you don’t think you have to go. When you have sex, unwanted bacteria can travel up your urethra, which is connected to your bladder. When you pee after sex you help flush this bacteria out of your vaginal area.

Eat cleansing foods
Many foods help vamp up your vagina’s self-cleaning mechanism. These foods include such things as cranberries and pineapples. Try making a delicious green juice using wheatgrass, pineapple, ginger and cranberries for a super healthy vagina.

Keeping both your vulva and vagina clean and respecting your body’s natural tendency to maintain balance will help you remain healthy and infection-free. If you happen to notice an unusual strong odor or have other issues such as burning, itching, redness or trouble urinating, it is time to see your doctor. Never try to solve issues like this yourself — that can only lead to more problems.

-Susan Patterson

Susan is the Content Director at The Alternative Daily, a Certified Health Coach, Certified Metabolic Typing Advisor and Master Gardener. With an extensive knowledge of whole foods and wellness, Susan enjoys educating others on how to live healthy and sustainable lives. She presently lives off grid in the middle of the New Mexican high desert with her three children and numerous animals.

 

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  • Tricia Palin Neville

    This was a great, common-sense article until the sentence: “Always wash your vagina from front to back and not back to front.” which showed that, although the writer seemed to have carefully explained the terms vulva and vagina, still had not understood her own article! A great example of, if you are going to plagiarise an article, it’s always best to read and understand it first.

  • Dedarah Lewis

    yes you are correct from front the vagina with tissue and with another tissue on back to the anus with another.