Did you know your posture could affect your vagina's health?
How much time do you spend taking care of your vagina? Be honest.
It might sound like a stupid question with an obvious answer because most of us believe we’re taking very good care of it, when in fact we’re doing the bare minimum to have a relatively healthy vagina. The truth is (and you’ll be surprised) that there’s so much we can do to take better care of our intimate parts that we don’t really do because we don't have the time or we don't think it's that important. On top of that, many of us lack even basic information about our bodies, so we don't always know what to do to take care of ourselves.
Just a couple of years ago, The Eve Appeal (a British charity and research organization centered on gynecological cancers) released the results of a study they conducted showing that half of 1000 British women surveyed from the ages of 26 to 35 didn’t really know how to locate the vagina in an anatomical drawing. At the same time, a quarter of them claimed they didn’t feel that well informed about gynecological matters, which is alarming regarding the importance these organs have for our overall well-being.
This study also showed that about one quarter of the younger women surveyed didn’t really care to visit their gyno out of embarrassment, which is a clear consequence of the taboos surrounding the vagina and why most women don’t really know how to take care of them properly. The following steps might sound quite simple and even obvious for some of you, but you’ll be surprised at the difference this makes in improving and having a better vaginal health.
Wear cotton underwear.
There are so many underwear options to choose from that most of the time we tend to go for what’s pretty or fits our shape the best. However, what we should really pay attention to is the fabric, since synthetic fabrics that aren't cotton can be quite harmful to our vagina. The reason why we should only wear cotton underwear is that this fabric is the most breathable, and it helps absorb moisture naturally. This prevents infections and bacteria from growing in your vagina. Another important thing to know is that you should never, ever, wear thongs since they can bring bacteria to the urethra and produce painful urinary tract infections. Last but not least, as Dr. Mary Jane Minkin suggests, when you’re at home or sleeping, you should consider being naked for a while to allow your vagina to breathe better.
Change your underwear after working out.
Talking about underwear, it’s also highly recommended that you change it after working out (the same goes for changing out of your bathing suit after swimming). The reason is that it helps keep moisture away from this area, preventing infections that thrive in moist and warm environments. For that same reason, you should also wash your underwear with unscented detergent, since the regular ones can destroy the natural barriers your vagina creates to protect itself from bacteria.
Get an annual check-up.
Many people think you only have to go to a gynecologist when there's something wrong, but it's also important to go once a year to make sure everything is fine and your vagina is healthy in order to prevent or even treat any possible issues. However, a new study from Harvard University claims that getting a Pap smear once a year isn’t that recommended, since it could be more stressful for your vagina.
Always use a condom.
Besides protecting us from STIs and and preventing a pregnancy, according to a study by the Beijing Friendship Hospital, condoms can also help keep our vaginal pH balanced and help good bacteria like lactobacilli survive. Why are these bacteria important? Because they help prevent yeast infections, vaginosis, and urinary tract infections. The reason is that semen has an acidic pH that can easily destroy our vaginal flora and leave us more prone to external bacteria. So, no matter who you're having sex with, use a condom every time.
Never, ever douche.
Douching is an complete no-no. Brands claim that they are the best products to get rid of odor and will help you feel fresh, but in the long term, they end up doing more harm than good. According to Dr. Dena Harris (New York University) vaginas have a self-cleaning system, so the only thing you need is water. Otherwise, you eliminate the good bacteria we talked about, and you leave the area more susceptible to infections or even pelvic inflammatory disease (an infection in the upper genital tract that can reach the womb, fallopian tubes, and ovaries).
Avoid scented soaps.
The point about douching also applies to scented soaps. You might think you need to clean this part of your body thoroughly with soap, but actually, the best thing to do is to use water only. You can use soap for the vulva if you want, but it must be neutral and unscented, so it doesn't harm the natural flora.
Stand up straight.
My first reaction when I heard about this was to be skeptical, since I couldn’t see the link between posture and vaginal health. As it turns out, having a bad posture affects the nerves and muscles in the sacrum that connects to the vagina. Not only does this put stress on the sacrum bone, but it can also block blood flow into the vagina and cause pain. If you spend a lot of time sitting, you should do stretching and posture exercises to destress the region.
It might sound like these are a lot of steps to take good care of our vagina, but it's only a matter of habit, just like brushing our teeth, eating healthy, or and the beauty routines we spend way too much time on. It's completely worth the effort because this is a very important part of our body, and keeping it healthy can really improve our overall well-being.
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Images by @project_wallflower
Cover photo by @pogorelova.daily