Maintaining a healthy vagina is very important for women overall well being. We are looking into this because vaginal problems can affect a woman reproductive life as well as her relationship with her partner.
While some things women do are beneficial, some practices can contribute to vaginal problems with associated consequences. When the natural state of the vagina is altered, then it is prone to infection.
Before we go into discussing the ways to maintain a healthy vagina, we would first talk about the signs and symptoms of vaginal infection.
These we would differentiate from what is normal. This is to help one to identify what is abnormal so as to seek help early to avoid complications.
We will also look at the natural state of the vagina that ensures its healthy nature, especially when not distorted in any way.
Symptoms and Signs of Vagina Infections
These can vary depending on whether the infection is by bacteria, fungi, viruses or parasites. Below are the common symptoms and signs that should be looked out for;
- Itching: this can range from mild irritaion to burning
- Unusual vaginal discharge: Though not all vaginal discharges are abnormal, but think of it being abnormal when the discharge becomes copious.
- Foul smelling vaginal discharge: The vaginal has its characteristic normal smell. When the smell becomes foul, think of an ongoing infection.
- Vulval swelling: this could be a sign of infection
- Change in colour of vaginal discharge
- Painful intercourse
Anyone experiencing any of the signs and symptoms listed above should seek evaluation from her doctor. This is important to maintaining a healthy vagina.
What keeps the Vagina Healthy?
- The vagina has an acidic PH
The PH of the vagina is less than 4.5. This is the ideal PH to keep the balance of the vagina bacteria. If the vaginal PH increases, that is, becoming less acidic, it will give room for harmful bacteria growth.
- Vaginal flora
These are bacteria that are in large quantities in the vagina. They are there to offer protection from other harmful bacteria through dominance. In addition, they also help to maintain the acidity of the vagina.
- Vaginal secretions
The vagina cleans itself naturally through normal secretions. And depending on the time in a woman’s menstrual cycle, vaginal discharge can vary from clear to egg-white colour. Likewise the quantity and the odour. These discharges help to cleanse the vagina protecting it from infection.
Ways to Maintain a Healthy Vagina
- Avoid douching
Douching disrupts the normal bacterial growth in the vagina. This in turn will change the PH from being acidic to less acidity. It can also wash off normal vaginal secretions. This will expose the vagina to infection. So try as much as possible to avoid douching if you don’t want to be a regular visitor to the GP clinic. The vagina naturally cleans itself.
- Do not wash the vagina
It is a bad practice to wash the inside of the vagina with a scented perform or soap. This kills the normal bacteria flora in the vagina, increasing the PH of the vagina. In turn, the vagina would lose its protection against the growth of harmful bacteria. However, the vulval area can be kept clean by washing with clean water.
- Wipe the perianal area from front to back
This is important to do after defecation. Doing it the other way would be carrying bacteria from the anus to the vagina. I am sure you would not want to do that.
- Avoid tight-fitting and nylon underwears
These will make the vagina warm and moist which encourages the growth of yeast. To keep the vagina clean and dry, use non-fitting nylon pants that can allow for air to enter to keep the vagina dry.
- Change sanitary pads and tampoon regularly during your period.
- Avoid indiscriminate use of antibiotics
Antibiotics kill the normal bacteria flora in the vagina. This exposes the vagina to invasion by harmful bacteria.
See your gynaecologist if there is an abnormal vaginal discharge or any of the signs and symptoms of vaginal infection.
In case of any need for clarification or questions on maintaining a Healthy Vagina, feel free to contact us. Thanks!!!