Please note: This isn’t meant to replace any gynecological advice.
Like most parts of the body, dealing with a vagina can be slightly annoying sometimes. In those times I often question why we aren’t pretty glittery souls floating about on earth. (Just kidding, I wonder that all the time.) Though the vagina is awesome and self-cleaning, it can sometimes be bothersome by being slightly itchy or simply niggling. (Sidenote: yes, people with balls and penises, vaginas and vulvas itch and get uncomfortable too but you don’t see us scratching them in public, so stop that, thanks.)
Your diet, your habits, your clothing, and your sex life all weighs in on how your vagina feels and smells. If you have a compromised immune system that will lead to more vaginal complications, if you have to take antibiotics it will also influence your vaginal pH level which is naturally acidic to ward off yeast and other bacteria. Here are some tips and tricks to help keep your vagina and vulva balanced.
After eating so many baked goods and sugary sweets during the holidays, you may feel a slight itchiness or notice your vaginal discharge is a bit white-ish (this generally means you have a higher yeast count).
First, drink a lot of water, of course; this will be your main defense for most bothersome things happening in your vaginal region, your urethra, and your colon.
Secondly, add yogurt in your diet. Find yogurt with the lowest sugar that you like. Try using plain Greek yogurt as a sour cream replacement! If you find your vagina is walking the line of “It’s so itchy I want to die,” soak a tampon in the plain yogurt and place it in your vagina.
Add a probiotic to your daily pill regime; the pharmaceutical industry is coming out with tablet form now that’s easier to swallow. (You can place a tablet inside your vagina easier too, but cut the tablet in half or fourths even.) If you haven’t ever dealt with a yeast infection and your discharge gets “cottage cheese like” and your vagina/vulva are painful, burning, or itchy, visit a doctor.
Since your vagina is normally acidic, cranberry juice helps with both your vaginal balance and keeping your urethra healthy (to ward off UTIs). Again, get the lowest sugar content you can cope with. (As someone who has tried no-sugar-at-all cranberry juice, I can tell you it tastes like stomach bile, so go with something all natural, no sugar added like half cranberry, half pomegranate juice.)
I will get a bit preachy here but one of the worst things people do is douche. Do not douche. Douching upsets the natural balance in your vagina; most douches are too acidic and then your vagina stops producing its natural level of acidity. About one to two weeks after douching, you will feel the return of irritation due to that. (Sidenote: This is actually why people call things douchebags. Douching is not good for you; neither are douchebags.)
When you are able to Free That Vag, go pantless and panty-less. It’s good for your vagina and vulva to air out. When you have to absolutely wear clothes go with cotton underwear or at the very least cotton lined underwear (the strip of cotton where your vulva and vaginal area will be touching).
If you are someone with sensitive skin you’ve probably realized certain soaps will make your vulva upset. When bathing don’t put strong products in the water (like super smelly bubble baths); you can instead take a warm, soap-free bath and add a few capfuls of apple cider vinegar.
It is also a good idea to have a separate soap for your body and for the area between your legs (penis or vagina and butt). Use a non-scented soap formulated for sensitive skin; bonus if it’s been gynecologically tested as well (you can find those soaps in the area of the store with lubricants).
The vagina natural acidic pH balance can create a hostile environment for sperm. Given this, sperm has an alkaline pH to give this little spermies a fight chance in the vagina. If you allow semen in your vagina, this can bother your balance as well; once every now and then it probably won’t affect your vagina much but if you are trying to get pregnant you may notice a change in the discharge and the smell. Whether you’re having unprotected sex or protected sex make sure your vagina and vulva at the very least gets rinsed off afterwards. (Sometimes this totally sucks because you just want to relax after orgasm, but if you have a sensitive vulva and vagina you’ll want to make sure you rinse.)
Remember that even from oral sex you can get added yeast and sugars on the vulva and vagina from your partners’ mouth. So after oral rinse or wipe well (sensitive formula baby wipes are great to keep bedside for that reason). Again, if you have a very sensitive vagina telling your partner to rinse their hands off with very hot water before any fingering commences is also a good idea.
Lastly, don’t forget your adult toys: wash with unscented gentle soap and rinse very, very well in hot, hot water after using. If you use toys, objects, or parts of the body that go from anus to vagina rinse and re-lube in between the switch (for quickness wipe with the baby wipes, then wipe with a clean towel—or before sex place a tall glass of hot water and a cloth by the bed, dunk or wipe off with the cloth, and dab dry then re-lubricate.)
If you have a problematic vagina that seems to continually flare up with itchiness, odd discharge, or a different smell, don’t hesitate to call your doctor. In the same breath, do not lie to your gynecologist. They are there to give you the best treatment you can get, if you feel judged by your gynecologist please look into getting another.
Your vagina is awesome so keep it the best, treat that kitten well!