#GirlTalk: A Few Things You May Or May Not Know About Keeping Your Vagina Happy & Healthy!

3 Feb

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Happy Monday, girls!

I didn’t want to say “down there” or “private parts” or “pocketbook” because we’re all grown, right? It’s a vagina–your vagina–and there are things you should know when keeping it clean and healthy. Technically, your vagina is actually the internal genitalia and the vulva is the external genitalia. We’ll be discussing both! We all know the basics, like regular showering, but there are some other things to consider that many of us will never know because we’re too embarrassed to ask our gynecologist or Google for fear it’ll save our search and haunt us later. Well, with sincerest desire for you to have a happy and healthy vagina and vulva, I’ve done the work for you. And no one will ever know you took a peek at this informative post, though I do urge you to get comfortable inquiring and learning about your genitalia. Until then, here are a few tidbits.

DO wipe from front to back, NOT back to front. According to founder of Healthy Hoo Hoo Stacy Lyons, as reported on HuffingtonPost, “Wiping wrong drags butt bacteria forward and it can get in the wrong spot creating irritation and infection.” You can actually get vaginal E Coli by wiping back to front because it “is normally found in your rectal area,” according to womenshealth.answers.com. Who knew E Coli existed outside of undercooked and questionable fast food burgers? Apparently it does, though, along with other bacteria that you want to keep away from your vaginal area. Picturing it in my head, it seems really unnatural to wipe any other way than front to back, but in case you are, STOP IT!

Do NOT Douche… or spray it with Chanel No. 5, or wash it with fragrant soaps and body washes or any of that other stuff. If your vagina was supposed to smell like summer breeze and fresh lilies, God would have probably just crafted you a cute little flower down there. But He didn’t! Unsurprisingly, when we start experimenting too much and altering nature, it backfires. Approximately 20 to 40% of American women ages 15 to 44 douche on a regular, according to womenshealth.gov. Douching and over cleansing with scented body washes can dry the inside and outside and that’s definitely not good. Additionally, while many of the women who douche do so to “clean” the vagina in the event of infection, it can actually have an opposite effect as douching pushes bacteria further up the vagina. It also disturbs the “delicate balance of vaginal flora (organisms that live in the vagina) and acidity in a healthy vagina.” There is good and bad bacteria in the vagina and the presence of both helps maintain its acidic environment. Tampering with this environment can lead to an overgrowth of bad bacteria. In a segment on The DRs, Dr. Lisa Masterson actually compares our vaginas to a self-cleaning oven. It has everything it needs to clean itself. All we need to do is maintain the outside. Peep the short clip below.

Keep Some Hair. As one who used to regularly schedule Brazilian waxes every 4 to 6 weeks, I recommend that you don’t. Aside from the shrieking pain of your hairs being viciously ripped from the root, it’s just not healthy. The hair actually helps absorb sweat and it keeps unwanted germs from entering your precious gem. It didn’t occur to me until one summer night when I was getting onto the subway with my miniskirt ready to party away. There was space to sit down, but I couldn’t help but think about all the weirdos that get on and off the subway every day and how many trafillions of germs must be crawling around on those seats. All I could think was, “I’m completely bare and I have on a mini. What if something crawls up there?” (Leave it to my mind to wonder about such things on the subway). I stood instead and later the next day I researched out of curiosity to see if there were health risks involved with my beloved Brazilians. Needless to say, there were several. While a bikini wax is fine, as long as the establishment is clean, reputable and doesn’t double dip the waxing sticks, a Brazilian is not recommended by most doctors. Jessica Krant, M.D, told Huff Post, “pulling the hairs out of those areas increases the risk that tiny skin tears will get bacteria in them that was never meant to be inside the skin. It can cause surface infections and even deeper cellulitis in some cases.” Such openness also increases risks of STIs too because of the increased skin tearing factor. Be aware, too, that some tears from waxing are very small and may not even be visible to the naked eye. If your partner prefers you bare, explain the health risks. If it’s still an “issue”, move along to the next because ain’t nobody got time for bacterial invasions and whatnot!

Get to Know Vulva. I know staring at her can be a bit awkward, but get to know Vulva. Sit down on a clean surface or squat with your legs wide apart and hold a mirror down there. Look to see if anything appears out of place, discolored or irritated. Also, look just to know what’s what and what’s going on. There are a few folds and flaps and you won’t know how to care for them if you never look at them. What I do at the end of my shower is turn the shower head off and let the water flow from the faucet. I squat all the way down with my legs apart, like a frog, and I wet a clean rag and gently go back in my vulva to make sure it’s nice and tidy. The more familiar you are with her, the better you’ll be able to tell if she’s ever sick. You’ll know when something is out of the norm and be able to explain it to your doctor.

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