Ladies, gather ‘round. We’re about to talk about your vagina. The vag, vagine, lady bits, cupcake, Jane, whatever you call it, is precious and delicate. It requires love, attention and some good ol’ TLC (tender loving care). The good news is that your friend down there is quite independent and takes care of herself for the most part, we just have to keep an eye out for extra protection. Before we dive into all the tips and tricks you need to know to give your girl the most she deserves, let’s discuss the basic anatomy.
The Vulva and Vagina
Oftentimes we refer to all of our lady bits as “vagina”, but anatomically, it’s just a part of the package. Here’s what to know:
- The Vulva – this is the external part of your genitalia, i.e., the part we can see. Your vulva is made up of the labia, clitoris, mons pubis, urethra, and the opening to your vagina.
- Labia – your labia can be referred to as your lips. We have an outer labium, where hair grows and an inner labium, which is much softer to the touch. Labia come in different shapes and sizes and vary from person to person.
- The Vagina – this is the internal part of your genitalia. The canal-like structure sits inside the labia and houses the cervix, the opening to your uterus. The vagina facilities childbirth, menstrual cycles, and sexual intercourse.
Now that we’ve cleared up the difference between the vagina and the vulva, let’s talk about keeping it clean and happy.
Genital Care 101
Remember, your vagina is self-cleaning, so you don’t have to go out of your way. Following daily measures to keep your vag-vulva area clean is the simplest way to maintain its health. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Rinse daily. This step doesn’t require using soap but if you choose to, steer clear of products with harsh chemicals and heavy fragrances as these are known irritants. Opt for a more natural or gentle product with calming ingredients. For example, the Dove-Hypoallergenic line, Neutrogena, or Pears.
- Cleanse using your finger rather than a washcloth or sponge. Remember, your vag-vulva area prefers that you’re gentle with it so avoid using materials that can be rough on the skin.
- Clean the vulva, not vagina. Your vagina uses a pH scale to prevent dryness and maintain its chemical balance and when we enter the vagina for cleaning purposes, we can offset its pH level, making us more prone to irritation and infections.
- Avoid douching. Douching, despite its claim to leave you feeling refreshed, can leave you in discomfort. Douching can also offset your pH levels. If you’re concerned about any odors, here’s what to know; it’s normal and will probably always exist.
- Mind your direction. To lessen the spread of bacteria, make sure you’re wiping front to back after the bathroom.
The vulva is your body’s pleasure core so it’s not unfamiliar to have company. Effective genital care must cater to your sex life. Here are some tips for practicing safe sex that your genitalia will thank you for:
- Select a lubricant/condom that agrees with your body. Pay attention to the ingredients in your lube. Ensure that it doesn’t include heavy chemicals and fragrances that are prone to causing irritation or throwing off your pH balance. It’s always good to avoid products with parabens, artificial fragrance, synthetic oils, dyes, and glycerin.
- Sanitize your toys.If you use sex toys of any type, be sure to clean them before and after using. You don’t want a buildup of bacteria anywhere near that precious vagine.
If you’re experimenting with anal sex, use a condom when switching from vaginal to anal to prevent the spread of bacteria.
- Pee after sex! Bacteria sometimes get caught in your urethra during sex so it’s always wise to flush it by urinating.
- A nice warm shower after sex benefits your feel-good and your genitals.
Dressing for your Vulva
The most important component for getting dressed according to your vag is breathability.
- Choose your materials.Cotton underwear provides the most breathability. Materials such as silk or polyester are prone to holding moisture and bacteria.
- Avoid tight pants and underwear. Tight-fitting clothes can grab onto bacteria, increasing the likelihood of developing vaginal infections.
- Shower or change your underwear after a workout. Vaginas sweat! After a workout, get into the habit of changing your underwear to protect from any buildup that would have accumulated.
Here for the Hair?
Shaving is your decision. You can choose to shave and have an entirely healthy vagina, or you can choose to not shave and have an equally healthy vagina. Experts say that as long as you regularly clean your pubic hair, you’re safe. If you choose to remove your pubic hair by shaving or waxing, make sure you moisturize to lessen the chances of razor bumps, redness, and irritation.
Practicing proper hygiene on your cycle is integral. Avoid scented tampons and pads, change your guard frequently, shower daily and, stay well hydrated. Vaginal health is extremely easy to achieve. There are vaginal probiotics that can help as well. By taking minimal steps, you’ll remain healthy down there. Include your vaginal care in your daily self