How to Improve Vaginal Health
There are foods and drinks that contain compounds that are beneficial to vaginal health. Some of these foods are prebiotics, probiotics, as well as fermented foods and beverages. The vagina requires immune defenses, natural secretions, and healthy bacteria to keep itself healthy. Women who eat healthy and balanced diets are sure to prevent infections and improve vaginal health. Let`s discuss the effects of diet on vaginal health, as well as other ways to improve vaginal health.
Probiotics for Vaginal Health
The vagina is a moderately acidic environment with a pH of around 4.5. This acidity enables healthful bacteria to grow, as well as prevents harmful microbes from developing. Probiotics are particularly effective at balancing vaginal acidity levels. Yogurt contains probiotics that balance vaginal acidity levels. Lactobacillus species bacteria are the most dominant type of healthy bacteria present in a healthy vagina. Lactobacillus benefits vaginal health in a number of ways; here are some:
- stops harmful microbes from attaching to the vaginal tissues
- aids the body’s immune system
- regulates the microflora in the vagina
- improves the vagina’s acidity levels
Some women take probiotic supplements, while others get them from fermented foods and drinks such as:
- yogurt and kefir
- kimchi and sauerkraut
Prebiotics for Vaginal Health
Prebiotic compounds are helpful for stabilizing vaginal pH, as they promote the growth of healthy bacterial populations. Here are some foods that are rich in prebiotics:
- whole-wheat products
Note, however, that prebiotics can worsen bowel conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Cranberry Juice for Vaginal Health
Did you know that drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry tablets will prevent Urinary Tract Infections? Drinking eight ounces or 240 milliliters of a 27% cranberry juice drink each day for 24 weeks will reduce the risk of UTIs in adult women. Cranberries are particularly rich in antibacterial compounds that kill bacteria. Some of these compounds are
- vitamin C
- organic and phenolic acids
- flavanols and flavanols
How to Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
UTIs occur when bacteria compromise the bladder, urethra, or kidneys, and as a result, causing burning or pain during urination and cloudy or bad-smelling urine. Studies show that about 60% of women will experience a UTI at some point in their lifetime. Drinking lots of fluids will, to a large extent, prevent the occurrence of UTIs.
Dealing with Candida Infections
Candida infections, or yeast infections, are the second most common cause of vaginitis or vaginal inflammation. There is no scientific proof that there are foods that can reduce candida infections, however, some foods contain ingredients that the fungus uses to grow. Such ingredients are preservatives, yeasts, refined sugar, fungi, allergens, and trace antibiotics. Avoiding these foods may just be beneficial to women`s health. There are speculations that natural remedies such as coconut oil, tea tree oil, and garlic with anti-inflammatory, antifungal, or antioxidant properties are good for candida infection.
6 Other Ways to Improve Vaginal Health
In addition to the regular consumption of a healthful, balanced diet that contains fermented products with prebiotics and probiotics can improve vaginal health, there are some lifestyle habits that can help improve vaginal health:
- Clean the genital region with mild, unscented soap before rinsing well and patting dry.
- Always wipe your vagina from front to back.
- Use antibiotics appropriately and only when necessary.
- Reduce sweat around the vagina.
- Exercise regularly.
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Stay hydrated.
- Reduce stress.
- Wearing loose-fitting cotton underwear.
- Avoid or limit factors such as douching, or holding in urine that may cause an imbalance in the body’s systems or irritate the vagina.
- Don`t wear tight underwear.
- Don`t smoke.
- Avoid prolonged exposure to moisture.
- Don`t drink alcohol
- Avoid processed or heavily refined foods
- Avoid foods or drinks with artificial hormones
Don`t Use Petroleum Jelly
Lubrication is vital for intercourse. Poor lubrication could make the skin of the vagina and labia irritated. Vaginal lubrication occurs naturally when females are aroused, however, some women produce inadequate lubricant, and as a result, may require artificial lubricants to heighten sexual pleasure and reduce friction.
You`re advised to use water-based lubricants. If you still feel dry using them, you`re advised to use silicone-based or oil-based lubricants. If you use condoms, then you shouldn`t use an oil-based lubricant because it may break down the latex in condoms. You`re also advised not to apply baby oil or petroleum jelly in your vagina, as it may cause inflammation and increase your risk of contracting infections.
Practice Safe Sex
You can practice safe sex by sticking to one sexual partner. You should ascertain, through medical tests, that you and your partner are free of sexual infections and STDs. If you are not sure of you and your partner`s status or don`t stick to one partner, then you should use condoms. This way, you will reduce your chances of contracting STIs such as gonorrhea, genital warts, chlamydia, genital herpes, syphilis, and HIV.
Choose Clothing Carefully
Keep your vagina clean and dry, and be careful with your choice of clothing. Avoid tight-fitting clothing because they create warm, moist conditions where yeast may thrive. Instead, you should wear breathable cotton underwear. You should also avoid wearing wet clothing. Always change out of wet swimsuits and sweaty workout clothes as quickly as possible. If you discharge excessively, you should take two pairs of underwear out with you so you can change. This way, you feel more comfortable and prevent infections.
Practice Vaginal Hygiene
Practice basic hygiene measures to keep your vagina healthy. For instance, you should wipe your vagina from front to back after using the restroom to avoid bacterial contamination and lower the risk of bladder infection. You should also change tampons and sanitary pads regularly during your period. Also, wearing panty liners will help you absorb the vaginal discharge.
The vagina should naturally have a pH of about 3.8 to 4.5. Douching affects the vagina`s pH levels, and as a result, reduces its acidity and disrupts its bacterial makeup. Contrary to popular opinion, douching won’t solve the vagina`s unpleasant odor; it only covers the smell. See your doctor if you notice an unpleasant odor from your vagina.
Vaginal Facts you Should Know
- A vaginal “fart,” also called a “vart” or “queef” is odorless.
- Every vagina has its unique smell which is determined by a variety of factors such as level of hygiene, its bacteria content, diet, how much a woman sweats, gland secretions, and the types of fabric a woman wears.
- The first two inches of the vagina has the highest amounts of nerve endings and is the most pleasure receptive.
- The acid/base balance of the vagina is around 4, which is the same pH as tomatoes, wine, and beer.
- Factors such as vaginal infections, douching, soap, and exposure to semen can change the pH of the vagina.
- Most women will contract HPV but may never know they did.
- There are strains of HPV that can cause cervical cancer or genital warts.
- About 9 out of 10 cases of HPV go away on their own within two years.
- After abstinence, IUDs and implants are the most effective forms of reversible birth control.
- Implants and IUDs don`t protect against any STDs.
- An overgrowth of bacteria may make the vagina may smell like fish.