If you’re like most women, you may not think too much about your vagina unless there’s a problem. But keeping your vagina healthy is important, and it may be easier than you think. First off you need to understand its anatomy, then how it works and finally how to care for it. Read about vaginal health below!
What Is The Vagina?
The vagina is a muscular tube leading from the uterus to the outside of the body. It’s about 3-4 inches long and can expand up to twice its length. The walls of the vagina are lined with mucous membranes, which keep it moist and protected.
It is combined with several other female parts:
- The outer lips, or labia, are the fleshy, visible parts around the opening of the vagina.
- The inner lips, or labia minora, are thin and delicate and run between the outer lips and the vagina.
- The clitoris is a small, sensitive organ located at the top of the inner lips. It’s extremely sensitive and is important for sexual pleasure.
- The urethral opening is where urine comes out.
- The vaginal opening is the outside opening of the vagina.
What Does The Vagina Do?
The vagina has several important functions:
- It serves as a passageway for menstrual blood and other body fluids.
- It helps keep the internal environment of the body in balance.
- It provides sexual pleasure.
- It helps to birth a baby.
Read More: Sex On Period: Pros, Cons, And Tips
What Should It Look And Smell Like?
When it comes to looks, there is no one “right” answer, as every woman’s vulva is different (2). Some have more visible folds of skin, while others are more smooth.
The skin may be a different color, ranging from light pink to deep brown. Labia color can also vary – they can be light pink, dark pink, brown, black, or any color in between.
Excessive redness or rashes may be a sign of infection, while excessive dryness may indicate a lack of lubrication.
The smell of a healthy vagina is typically mild and slightly acidic. It may have a slight odor. This odor is not necessarily unpleasant – in fact, many women find it quite pleasant. This odor is caused by the presence of sweat and bacteria, which are both normal and healthy. Such smells should go away once you bathe. If the odor is strong, fishy, or unpleasant, it may be a sign of an infection and you should see a doctor.
A healthy vagina also has a discharge that changes in color at various times of a woman’s cycle. This discharge is typically clear, white, or light yellow. It may be brown just before or after your period. However, if the discharge is thick, green, or gray, it may be a sign of infection and you should see a doctor.
What Can Cause Vaginal Problems?
There are many things that can cause vaginal problems, including:
- infections such as yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and trichomoniasis
- hormone changes due to pregnancy, menopause, or taking certain medications
- chemical irritants such as douches or body washes
- straining during bowel movements
- lack of exercise
- being overweight
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How Can I Keep My Vagina Healthy?
There are several things you can do to keep your vagina healthy (1):
- Wash the area around the vagina with warm water and mild soap every day. Be sure to rinse well.
- Avoid using harsh soaps, scented tampons, and perfumed sprays near the vagina.
- Avoid douching, which can upset the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina.
- Use a condom every time you have sex to help protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
- Wear loose-fitting underwear and pants.
- Do not smoke.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Exercise regularly.
- Keep the area dry and clean.
- See your doctor if you have any concerns about the health of your vagina.
What If I Notice Changes In My Vagina?
If you notice any changes in the appearance or smell of your vagina, or if you have any other concerns, see your doctor (2). It is important to get any problems checked out as soon as possible. Some common vaginal issues include:
- Yeast infections
- Bacterial vaginosis
- Vaginal dryness
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Read More: What Is Sexual Wellness And Why Does It Matter?
Which Vitamins For Vaginal Health Should I Be Taking?
There are a few vitamins that can help keep the vagina healthy. These include:
- Vitamin A: helps keep the skin and tissues healthy
- Vitamin C: helps fight infection
- Vitamin B6: helps manage hormone levels and may help improve vaginal health
- Vitamin E: helps protect the skin and tissues from damage
- Zinc: helps keep the vagina healthy by maintaining the balance of bacteria
- Iron: can help prevent anemia, which can cause vaginal dryness
These vitamins can be found in many different foods and supplements. Talk to your doctor to see if you should be taking any specific vitamins or supplements to help care for your vagina.
The Best Foods For Vaginal Health
A balanced, nutrient-dense diet is important for overall health, including vaginal health. Some of the best foods for vaginal health include:
- Fruits and vegetables, especially dark leafy greens
- Lean protein sources such as chicken, fish, and legumes
- Unprocessed whole grains
- Healthy fats, such as olive oil and avocado
- Dairy products such as yogurt and cheese
- Herbal teas, especially chamomile and lavender
- Fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir.
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The Bottom Line
Keeping your vagina healthy is important for your overall health and well-being. There are many things you can do to maintain vaginal health, including practicing good hygiene, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding harmful chemicals. If you notice any changes in your vagina, see your doctor right away.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 9 Tips to Keep Your Vagina Happy + Healthy (2018, clevelandclinic.org)
- Vagina: What’s typical, what’s not (n.d, mayoclinic.org)
- Vulvar Care (n.d, clevelandclinic.org)