Genital organs play an important role in a woman’s overall health and hygiene plays a major role in safeguarding these body parts. The vagina is a closed muscular canal that extends from the vulva (opening of the female genital area) to the neck of the uterus (cervix) and it is also known as the birth canal, which connects the cervix via the uterus.
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The vagina naturally has an acidic pH between 3.8-4.5 which consisting huge amounts of beneficial bacteria that can ward off infections and it is naturally lubricated.
A healthy vagina usually secretes a minimal amount of discharge, which is a normal physiologic reaction. However, if women experience any changes in vaginal odour, colour and discomfort, pelvic pain or vulvar irritation, itching or burning then it needs to be immediately attended.
Any problems in the vagina can impact fertility, sexual desire and ability to reach orgasm. An enduring vagina disorder can put you under tremendous stress, hamper relationship and crash your self-confidence.
Some of the contributing factors which affect the health of the vagina include unprotected sex, health conditions like pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis which may result in painful sex, birth control devices like condoms, diaphragms which can cause vaginal irritation, use of feminine hygienic products, pregnancy and childbirth, depression and anxiety and hormonal imbalance.
Factors That Affect Vaginal Health
Vaginal problems can affect fertility and sexual drive. Any existing vaginal health issues can also result in stress or relationship issues and have a negative impact on your overall well-being. Some of the factors that can affect the health of vagina includes:
Sex: Unprotected sex can lead to sexually transmitted infection, while forceful sex or an injury to the pelvic area can result in vaginal trauma.
Certain Medical Conditions: Health problems such as endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory disease may cause painful sex. Scarring due to pelvic surgery and certain cancer treatments can also cause painful sex.
Birth control and feminine-hygiene products: Protective contraceptives such as condoms, diaphragms and associated spermicide can cause vaginal irritation. Furthermore, the use of sprays, deodorants or douches can worsen prevailing inflammation.
Pregnancy and childbirth: During pregnancy vaginal discharge often increases. Vaginal tears are common during childbirth and vaginal delivery can also decrease muscle tone in the vagina.
Psychological issues: Anxiety and depression can lead to a low level of arousal and uneasiness or pain during sex.
Hormones: Any change in hormone levels can affect vaginal health - for instance, estrogen production declines after menopause and during breastfeeding which can result in the vaginal lining to thin making sex painful.
Read through this article to know about simple and effective measures to keep your private parts in good health
Take Charge Of Your Health
Eat a well-balanced and nutritious food, maintain weight and stay active. Healthy living will eventually help you to stimulate sexual organs. Bad health status can put the women at risk of diabetes and make them prone to contract urinary tract infections and other infections that hamper vaginal health.
Vaccination can safeguard the women against HPV the virus that is responsible for cervical cancer and also reduce the risk of hepatitis B, a severe liver infection that spread through sexual contact.
Using natural lubricants like olive oil, coconut oil or aloe vera gel is vital to avert the vagina from getting irritated during sexual intercourse. Vaginal lubrication is said to happen naturally during arousal; however, a few women may not secrete enough. In such cases, natural external lubricants may help, however, do not use petroleum jelly or baby oil as these can aggravate vaginal irritation.
Routine health checkups with the gynaecologist guarantee women to maintain health. Some of the screening tests suggested for women include a pap smear, pelvic examination and mammogram.
To protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancy it is vital to use condoms. Using condoms shields you from sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhoea, HIV, genital herpes and chlamydia. Also Read: World Condom Week: Know How To Practice Safe Sex
The vagina is a self-cleaning organ and using chemicals, prepacked wipes or douching can harm its normal work. Avoid douching, clean the vagina and the external genitalia using mild soap and water.
This is the best exercise to keep your pelvic floor muscles well-toned and help you to correct urinary incontinence or weakness of the pelvic floor. Also Read: Pelvic Floor Exercises: 5 Ultimate Workouts To Enhance Overall Health
Practice Good Hygiene
Following good hygiene can go a long way in protecting your vaginal health. Always wash or wipe from front to back to avert bacterial infection of the vagina and lessen the risk of bladder infection. Change sanitary pads and tampons regularly to reduce the chance of vaginal irritation and infection.
Choose The Right Clothing
A few types of fabrics and wearing tight-fitting clothing generate a warm, moist environment in the vagina which favours the yeast to thrive. Always prefer cotton breathable inner ware and if you are at risk of yeast infections change your sweaty clothes or wet swimsuits as quickly as possible.
Stay away from alcohol, quit smoking and chewing tobacco, as chronic alcohol and smoking can impair sexual function. Nicotine in cigarettes inhibits sexual libido and also hamper physical and mental health which affects overall sexual function.