The Key to a Healthy Vagina: What to Do, and What to Avoid

January 25, 2022   Preventative Care, Sexual Health

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The vagina is a very complex and self-sufficient (and even self-cleaning—you’ll learn more below) organ. As independent as it is, it needs you to help maintain its right balance on a daily basis. Let’s dive in.

Scents are a no-go

Vaginas aren’t meant to smell like flowers (read our blog on how a vagina should smell). Scents of any kind should be avoided — this includes bubbles, bath oils, powders, and feminine sprays. Although cleaning the inside of your vagina is not necessary, you can use a mild, unscented soap to wash the outer and inner parts of the vulva. For menstrual bleeding, unscented tampons that are changed frequently (every eight hours or less — four is better) are recommended. When it comes to laundry, it’s best to avoid detergents, dryer sheets, and fabric softeners with fragrance.

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Maintain a healthy diet

Vaginal and reproductive health starts with a balanced, nutritious diet. Yogurt, for example, is rich in probiotics and can help prevent and aid in the treatment of yeast infections. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha, and kimchi contain good bacteria that help maintain a healthy pH. And high fiber foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole grains contain prebiotics to enhance good intestinal bacteria. If you‘re prone to having urinary tract infections, consider taking a cranberry supplement or drinking cranberry juice. And of course, drinking water has a variety of benefits for your overall health and can keep vaginal tissues hydrated and help the body eliminate waste effectively.

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Wear breathable clothing

Vaginas like breathable clothing and fabrics. Start with switching all of your underwear to cotton. It has moisture-wicking properties to limit the amount of wetness that can promote bacterial growth. Change your underwear daily, and after taking a swim or participating in a sweaty workout, change out of wet clothing as quickly as possible to prevent discomfort.

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Some more recommendations for good vaginal health

  • Avoid panty liners and thongs, if possible.
  • Wipe from front to back after using the toilet.
  • Don’t scratch it when it itches.
  • Avoid douching.
  • Pee after intercourse to get rid of bacteria before it reaches the bladder, reducing any chance of infection.
  • Always practice safe sex by using condoms to avoid contracting and spreading infections.
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Rebecca Banaski, DO, MPH

I will tell my patients that if they are aware of their vagina in an irritative way then it is likely something that needs to be investigated. Don’t use over-the-counter products to try to treat the irritation, instead make an appointment to be evaluated. 

— Rebecca Banaski, DO

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