Caring for your vagina: A Listicle
I write about vaginas a lot. I play with them. I praise them. I talk about them. I love them, and I try my best to get other people to as well. Listen, I’m a vagina stan. Naturally, I want to see everyone with a vagina be healthy and happy with theirs.
Here are some things to keep in mind all day, erryday.
Wash. Then, wash again.
I’m hoping this one is obvious, right? But let’s talk through it anyway. The vagina is a self-cleansing part of our body, this doesn’t in any way mean that you don’t have to wash it. But drop that soap, stay away from the intimate washes (unless suggested by a medical professional, of course). Stay away from antiseptics. Stop. Scrubbing. So. Hard. You know as well as anyone that your vagina is tender, so treat it exactly that way. All it needs is some warm water. Be precise. Wash the exterior, part the labia and don’t neglect your anus! Forgotten but useful tip: smegma (a sebaceous secretion in the folds of the skin) gets built up around your clitoris, so gently wash under your clitoral hood too.
Cotton panties all the way
If, unlike me, you do prefer to wear underwear, try to stay clear of overly tight, synthetic materials. Cotton may be a little less sexy than many people prefer but it does decrease the chance that there’ll be humidity or friction in your nether regions. Natural materials over vaginal infections? Yes, please.
Change your underwear
This may sound obvious but I mean all types. It’s hot, you put on your bikini, have a swim, hang around in that wet suit while dipping in and out for the rest of the day, completely oblivious of how that moisture works against you. Wet and warmth environments are a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus. You’ll get itchy, uncomfortable, start smelling less fresh and, yup you guessed it, may get an infection. So change your underwear often, especially if you’re swimming or working out.
Keep a healthy diet and drink more water
The expression ‘what you put in is what you get out’ isn’t just true with hard work. You can imagine that if you constantly eat junk food, barely drink water, you aren’t going to smell or feel healthy, let alone taste great. Also let it be known that a vagina is not meant to taste like anything but a damn vagina. Those with vaginas, don’t let anyone guilt-trip you into doing anything to your vagina that isn’t healthy. As long as you stay as healthy and hygienic as you can, drink water (and follow the rest of the tips on this list, of course) you’re good to go.
Wipe front to back!
Be aware that wiping the wrong way increases the likelihood of an infection. Whatever time of the month, always wipe the right way to avoid transferring bacteria from your anus into your delicate folds. Your toilet paper is also important to note: uncoloured and unscented is the way to go. If you’re able to, baby wipes work wonders in place of toilet paper.
Keep it natural and unscented
While some people like to keep it naturally hairy and grow out their hair, others may trim, shave or wax. What many forget is that under that hair, your pubic mound is made of skin. The skin around the vagina needs to be taken care of just as you do all you can to make sure the rest of your body stays moisturised, smooth and lush. Hydrate your skin, find yourself a gentle exfoliating brush and apply soothing (unscented) products to avoid your skin getting itchy and inflamed.
Menstrual hygiene is key
Pads, tampons, panty-liners, none of these things should never stay on or in you for longer than a couple of hours. Panty-liners and pads keep the skin from breathing and up the risk of infection. You know that little booklet in your box of tampons? That thing haunted me for months in grade three. Having only just started my period I was terrified of Toxic Shock Syndrome and you should be too. Google it and tell me that info doesn’t scare the hell out of you. (On that note, if you’re able to, donate pads and tampons as often as you can manage. No one should risk infection or have to sacrifice hygiene and parts of their life because they don’t have access to such.)
Know yourself by knowing your vagina
Every vagina has a look and smell of its own. Are you aware of your look and smell? No? So how will you be able to tell when something is wrong? Are you aware of any allergies you may have for example latex, menthol, glycerin or maybe lube? Get to know these things. Get tested regularly, keep tabs on your vagina and don’t assume nothing is wrong if you notice any changes.
Pee, bbz. Pee.
Do. Not. Hold. Your. Pee. In. There’s no prize for that mess. Pee as often as you need to. Pee after you masturbate. Pee after you have sex. Just pee, won’t you? It’ll decrease the likelihood of UTIs and other infections. If you’re peeing too often, or it burns when you do, see a doctor as soon as you can.
Stay woke about that yeast
Yeast infections are as common as they are frustrating. Luckily, they’re just as treatable as long as you know how to spot them, get them diagnosed and have some medication. Not fun to do on a budget but you’re able to get assistance at a clinic. So keep an eye out for changes in discharge and itchiness. Extra tip: avoid sex when you have a yeast infection. It won’t be any fun, not to mention, you’ll pass that infection on to your partner.
Learn your lube
The amount of times stories float around Twitter about people using random things as lube is worrying. Whether it’s just for RTs or a simple joke, please don’t try this : baby oil, massage oils, Vaseline, coconut oil, just don’t do it. Many products may seem like a good idea but they wear down latex condoms and could lead to infections. Learn the difference between types of lubes too. Water-based vs natural vs flavoured vs silicone-based, which to choose? They all have their advantages and disadvantages. Try a little patch test on the inside of your wrist to check that you don’t react to any lube you’re trying for the first time. Extra note: flavoured lubes have sugar in them, which could be a problem if you’re prone to yeast infections.
Toys, toys, toys.
I am as big a fan of using toys (with or without a partner) as I am of vaginas. I’m also aware of the fact that you still have to be safe when using toys. Self-pleasure includes being healthy, be kind to your vagina, use condoms if you share your toys and make sure you disinfect them to keep mould and bacteria levels as low as you can. Never put your toys away when they’re still wet or unwashed.
Love your vagina
Use your instincts when it comes to taking care of your vagina. If you know and love how it is when it’s healthy, do all you can to keep it that way. My favourite top tip here? Don’t let misogynists penetrate you.
Do not forget to download the safe sex and pleasure manual that this appears in! Click here to get it.
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