The weirdest thing about women’s health is how many taboos there are. If you find yourself blushing just thinking the word ‘vagina’ you aren’t alone. Many women don’t want to talk about their health – particularly with male doctors – because we are taught from a young age not to. Men, on the other hand, are quite happy to talk about their manhood and you’ll notice just how many male comedians make penis jokes without a problem but female comedians are regarded as crude.
This strange contrast has a huge impact on women’s health. Being embarrassed about your body (hello body-shaming cultural norms) means that even when there is an obvious problem, many women don’t want to talk about it, let alone go and see a professional for some advice. And, knowing that your Google history is kept forever might be keeping you from turning to search engines for advice…
All vaginas are slightly different and knowing what is normal for you is essential for looking after your overall health as well as your sexual health. So, this article’s aim is to inform and, as an inevitable side-effect, will probably help to desensitize you from the word ‘vagina’!
Your Vagina is Full of Bacteria
We tend to think of bacteria as a bad thing but the reality is that your vagina is reliant on its flora of bacteria to stay healthy. The purpose of the bacteria is to keep the walls of your vagina healthy, prevent dryness and maintain your vaginal pH, which is usually between 3.5 – 4.5.
Douching your vagina is bad practice because it can remove this ‘good’ bacteria. The reality is that your vagina is effectively self-cleaning and requires no effort from you. The people who tell you that you should clean your vagina are probably trying to sell you a useless product. If you do experience symptoms such as an unpleasant smell, discharge or itching, and irritation, using a probiotic like Probaclac will help to return your bacterial balance to normal levels.
Your Vagina Will Change After Childbirth
While you are trying for a baby, you will probably read a lot of different advice to increase your chances of conception. This is totally normal. But have you thought about how your body will change after you have given birth?
Many women would prefer not to know how their vagina will change after giving birth and while it can be scary to think about feeling sore and needing to wear a diaper, the reality is that knowledge is power. Yes, your vagina may be looser but you can do pelvic floor/ kegel exercises to strengthen the muscles once again (read on to the next section for more). You also shouldn’t be too worried if your vulva changes color as this is usually a side effect of some scarring.
Giving birth is a totally natural process and a baby always changes everything. Don’t worry if your body changes too.
Your Vagina is Really Elastic
This is something that you probably already knew since a baby comes out of there! But what you might not realize is that your vagina relaxes during intercourse which allows it to expand and welcome your partner. As you get older, your vagina will get drier and lose some of its elasticity though this doesn’t need to impact your sex life as hormone creams can help to hydrate your skin.
Not All Women Have Vaginal Orgasms
Vaginal orgasms can be quite elusive for many women but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun in the bedroom. There are many ways to enjoy sex and a little experimentation and research will give you a better idea of what brings you pleasure. There are several different types of orgasm, so don’t limit yourself.
Doing kegel exercises isn’t just good for women after giving birth, you can also do these exercises to improve your sex life and increase your chances of vaginal orgasm. The exercises will tighten the vaginal canal and increase the intensity of the orgasm you experience. As a plus, Kegels also help your bladder control – something new moms will definitely be interested in!
All Kinds of Scents and Smells
You will probably have noticed that your vagina sometimes smells different and while this is often nothing to worry about, any particularly unpleasant smell could be a sign of infection. For the most part, though, your vaginal scent is affected by what you eat and the products you use.
One interesting factor is how tight your underwear is. Wearing breathable fabrics and looser underwear is a good idea – especially when you have a workout. Thongs may also affect your smell and can also be problematic as bacteria can be transported from back to front.
Finally, we are all familiar with the idea that sex smells but did you know that this is because when the semen interacts with your bodily fluids, it briefly changes the pH of your vagina.
Tampons are Safe – When Used Properly
Some women worry about losing tampons and will avoid using them for this reason. However, while it is possible to get a tampon stuck or to forget about a tampon, you won’t lose one. If you do struggle to remove a tampon, a doctor will be able to remove it for you, and this is a really important procedure because leaving a tampon may cause toxic shock.
Using a tampon properly is essential. So, wash your hands first, make sure the tampon is inserted properly and make sure you only use the right kind of absorbency. Using a super-absorbent tampon at the very end of your period can dry your vagina out and cause discomfort. Switch to a lighter tampon after day 2 or use panty liners instead.
Knowing more about your vagina will hopefully make you feel more empowered to make healthy decisions about your body. While you might not want to go shouting about it in public, losing some of the embarrassment will give you the agency to spot when something is wrong and seek help.