Feeling uncomfortable down there is not as uncommon (or embarrassing) as you might think. Whether it’s a flora imbalance or sex-related prob at play, the tricky thing is figuring out what’s caused the issue and whether there could be something more serious going on.
That’s why we hit up Integrative Medicine Expert Dr Cris Beer, to find out exactly how to keep your vajay happy. You’re welcome.
1. Cleaning is key
Women are more prone to Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) than men, which refers to a bacterial infection in the bladder, kidneys, ureters, or urethra. Therefore, it’s crucial that good hygiene is adhered to, particularly after sexual intercourse.
“Urinating after sex can help to flush out bad bacteria before it has time to travel to your bladder, helping to minimise the risk of an infection,” Dr Beer adds.
2. Change is inevitable
Do you notice that you have more discharge than usual at certain times of the month? It’s probably just a sign that you’re ovulating.
“Normal vaginal discharge is a healthy way for your body to get rid of fluid and old cells, and it’s not uncommon to have a little more than usual during ovulation. However, if you notice that the discharge starts to change in texture or colour, and has a powerful odour, it’s worth speaking to your health practitioner to check it isn’t something more serious,” recommends Dr Beer.
3. It’s a sucker for stress
Stress not only brings tension and unease, it can also release stress hormones called corticosteroids, which can suppress certain cells in the immune system, inhibiting our body’s ability to fight infection.
“To help manage and cope with daily stressors, it’s vital to ensure that you are getting enough sleep – minimum 7 hours each night, exercising moderately for at least 30 minutes a day, and are being mindful of caffeine consumption (no more than 2 cups of coffee per day) to help reduce anxiety and tension,” suggests Dr Beer.
4. It needs support
Healthy vaginal flora is dominated by Lactobacilli, a common probiotic which acts against infection and discomfort. Supplementing with a probiotic, containing a specific combination of clinically-trialled probiotic strains for vaginal and women’s health, can help to keep the environment acidic, boosting the balance of ‘good’ bacteria in the area.
5. It pays to stay safe
Using condoms or another form of sexual contraception should be obvious! But aside from safe-sex, it’s important to be safe in other ways too.
“If you’re due for a pap smear, make sure you follow through. Even if you’re not currently sexually active or have been with the same partner for years, it’s important to have regular checks to eliminate any serious health problems down there,” says Dr Beer.
6. Nix the moisture
Beach season is officially upon us and while a dip in the ocean can work wonders for our physical and mental health, it can sometimes do damage to our vaginal health. Keep your nether region clean and dry – try to towel off or change into clean and dry clothes as soon as possible after a dip or a shower (yeast and ‘bad’ bacteria thrive in moist, dark places – and your wet swimsuit is the bullseye). Also, go for loose, cotton underwear (or other natural fibres) as much as possible. The same applies for pads, tampons or liners.
7. Skip the sweet stuff
Dr Cris says that when your vaginal bacteria is off balance, it’s important to lay off the sugar and look at your diet.
“If you’re grazing on a diet high in foods like bread, sugar and MSG, and drinking a little too much alcohol and too often, then you’re likely to be fuelling your body with yeast.
“Not only are you spurring the production of yet more yeast, but you’re also being unkind to your body. Cut back on processed foods and sugars and ensure you’re eating a mix of nutritionally-dense foods – including fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, protein and fibre, to give it the best cover against bugs, infection and other nasties,” says Dr Beer.
Dr Cris is an integrative medical doctor, author, corporate speaker, and media doctor. She has particular interests in preventative health, lifestyle medicine, hormone health, weight loss, fatigue and sleep problems, digestive issues, as well as women’s health.
This article originally appeared on Women's Health.