For many women, the vaginal area is high maintenance in a way that, frankly, can get a bit frustrating — and sometimes even painful. Menstruation, dryness, chafing, yeast infections, and urinary tract infections all require us to give the vulva a lot of TLC. However, there’s no need to throw your hands up in exasperation. In fact, by adhering to these five simple rules, you’ll find that you, your partner, and your V-zone can do more than just get along — you can exist in harmony.
Keep it balanced.
A healthy vagina naturally has a slightly acidic pH level that helps maintain optimal amounts of bacteria. This pH, however, is subject to change: If you’re stressed out, overweight, menstruating, on a diet, or taking birth control pills or other antibiotics, your pH levels can be thrown out of whack, causing beneficial bacteria — known as probiotics — to die off. When this happens, the wrong bacteria can thrive, and this can lead to illnesses and infections like yeast infections, urinary tract infections, and vaginosis. Infections like these can make things very itchy, inflamed, and uncomfortable down there, aside from the unpleasant changes they can provoke in both discharge and odor.
To keep your pH levels where they should be, eat foods that naturally contain probiotics, such as sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, and yogurts that include “live and active cultures” (which is most of them nowadays). Also, drink cranberry juice! Containing naturally acidic compounds that make it through your system and to your bladder without being affected, cranberry juice has been used to both prevent and treat urinary tract infections for a very long time. The less sugar it contains, the better. Enjoy a tall glass every day.
As a matter of fact, you should also avoid scented soaps when cleansing your vaginal area. Soaps often contain harsh chemical agents that can act as irritants and disrupt that aforementioned delicate pH balance. Your vagina is a moist environment, and dirt and bad bacteria should be naturally flushed out when it’s in a healthy state. Gently and thoroughly rinsing between your labia with warm water in the shower should be all you need to keep yourself clean down there.
Although this may be difficult to remember in the heat of the moment, using a little bit of lubricant — even if you need to stop mid-romp to apply — can help you avoid a sore, chafed vagina post-coitus. Even if natural lubrication is not a problem for you, anyone’s body can have trouble keeping up if the sex is rigorous or long-lasting! So, make the conscious decision to be sore no more by keeping a bottle of water-based lubricant on the nightstand.
If becoming naturally lubricated in the first place seems to be the problem, drink more water! Mucous membranes (found in places such as your eyes, mouth, and vagina) rely on a well-hydrated body to function properly. Drinking eight glasses of water per day not only aids in achieving a sex-ready body, but could also lead to a milder vaginal scent and taste.
Wear breathable undergarments.
Your vagina and vulva create a warm, moist environment that naturally breeds bacteria, both the good kind and the bad. Wearing synthetic panties that don’t allow fresh air to get through can cause bacterial production to go into overdrive, leading to — you guessed it — infections. Spending the whole day in a wet bathing suit can set off the same problems, because if there are three conditions that bacteria love, it’s heat, moisture, and darkness. Now, don’t get me wrong: It’s okay to have slinky, sexy, synthetic undergarments for special occasions. But, for day-to-day wear, choose soft, comfortable, cotton underwear that allows your vulva to breathe!
If you don’t self-stimulate regularly, you should start. Being in touch with your body in a way that brings you pleasure provides benefits to both your mental and physical health. It improves communication and self-confidence in the bedroom, relieves stress, boosts your metabolism, allows you a higher understanding of what you need from your sex life, and, hey, it feels good. The rush of endorphins released at the point of climax can even be enough to pull you out of an emotional funk, reduce headaches, and help you sleep better. When you consider all the benefits — and the total lack of cons — why wouldn’t you masturbate? It’s perfectly healthy… and, yes, almost everyone does it!
By being educated about what your body needs to be healthy and sexually satisfied, you can take measures to prevent the inconvenient ailments that are specific only to women, while building a stronger and more intimate bond with your partner. Though being female isn’t always a stroll in the park, most of the time, it’s pretty great.