One thing many women don’t know and don’t talk about is how to take care of and maintain a healthy vagina. Picture: Pexels

Growing up you were taught many different things when it comes to taking care of your body. One of the first things you were taught was that you must always wash your hands after using the toilet or that you need to bath twice a day; when you wake up and before you go to bed. One thing many women don’t know and don’t talk about is how to take care of and maintain a healthy vagina.  

You may not have thought about vaginal health before, and that is not uncommon because people may find the subject rather embarrassing and uncomfortable to talk about. However, knowing the facts and knowing how to properly care for your vagina is incredibly important and ensures that part of your body is healthy. Kotex together with their expert; Midwife and Heath Educator Sister Burgie Ireland, are opening up the conversation and are sharing some insights on what you need to know about taking care of your vagina.

The vagina is naturally wet, acidic and is ‘self-cleaning’. It has a variety of bacteria, yeasts and other micro-organisms, which occur naturally. Lactobacilli is a good bacterium that keeps other bacteria in check, and normally keeps the vagina slightly acidic. But sometimes, external factors can cause an imbalance of the natural bacteria in your vagina that can lead to problems, such as yeast or bacterial infections. Some girls are more prone to these vaginal problems than others.

Vaginal problems can be caused by hormones, health issues, pregnancy, and especially Sexually Transmitted Infection (STD). Typical signs of a vaginal infection are:

Itching, irritation or soreness around the vaginal opening

Experiencing a burning sensation when you urinate
Discharge with a bad smell that could be white, green, yellow or frothy
 Swelling in the groin
Abnormal bleeding like bleeding between periods or after sex
Bad body odour
There are various products available for women in terms of keeping the vagina clean, but these are no longer recommended e.g. douching. Many women believe in douching, which is washing the vagina with a chemical mixture from a plastic bag and nozzle, however by doing this you can interfere with the normal bacteria of the vagina that keep it slightly acidic and healthy. The best way to clean your vagina is to simply wash the outer lips (labia) with water or a mild soap.

Here are some tips to keep your vagina healthy and infection free: using the toilet, always wipe front to back

Wash your hands afterwards
Avoid vaginal cosmetics (such as powders, perfumes, vaginal sprays 
Only use a mild soap
Have your own bath towel
Exercise regularly
Make sure you eat right and limit the amount of junk food in your diet
Always wear clean underwear
Wear loose-fitting pajamas or a nightie to bed
During your period change your pads and tampons regularly. This should be at least every four hours depending on your flow.