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5 Things You Probably Don’t Realize are Bad for Your Vaginal Health

People are told to eat healthily, exercise daily and get eight hours of sleep to be healthy. When it comes to vaginal health, it is not so simple. The internet is constantly circulating new vaginal health trends and recommendations. Despite good intentions behind them, some of your daily rituals may be harming your vaginal health. Consider eliminating these surprisingly unhealthy habits from your vaginal health regiment.

Excessive cleaning and feminine hygiene trends

Want to know the best way to clean your vagina? We’ll give you a hint: DON’T. The vagina is actually a self-cleaning, internal organ. Do you know those refreshing vaginal wipes and sprays covered in flowery packaging and a promise to make your vagina as fresh as springtime? The part that is not advertised is the unbalanced pH levels they can cause. According to Medical News Today, “Washing, especially with harsh soaps or douches can throw the vaginal pH out of balance, increasing the risk of infections and unpleasant odors. People should not try to eliminate all vaginal odor by washing the vagina. A healthy vagina naturally has a slight odor.” 

If you experience a sudden change in vaginal odor, such as one that is fishy or strong or unusual discharge, make an appointment to see your gynecologist. These are the first signs of an infection. Your vagina will clean itself, but if you do wish to clean your vulva, try using warm water and gentle soap. 

Exercising

Life is a balancing act. While exercise has multiple health benefits, it is important to understand the possible negative impacts. During exercise, your vulva and vaginal area produce sweat, and the build-up of this can cause problems. “Sports vagina” refers to vaginal discomfort and increased risk for infections like bacterial vaginosis (BV). 

The act of exercising does not automatically cause a sports vagina. Improper attire and irregular cleaning are the real culprits. Wear loose clothing when exercising and change into clean garments when your workout ends. Be aware of possible symptoms like itching, redness and unusual discharge or smell. Seek medical attention if your symptoms are persistent as you may have developed an infection. 

Using a tampon size that is more absorbent than you need

Every woman experiences the dreaded worry of when she will need to change her tampon throughout the day. Logically, it makes sense to wear a more absorbent tampon to lessen the frequency it needs to be changed, right? While it logically may make sense, it is incorrect when it comes to good vaginal health practices. All tampons, regardless of absorbency, should be changed every four to eight hours. Leaving a tampon in longer because it is more absorbent will still increase your risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS)

The FDA released “The Facts on Tampons and How to Use Them Safely” to explain how tampon sizes can be chosen and safely used. It is important to understand how your tampon needs may alter as your cycle progresses. 

Smoking

You probably know the negative health effects caused by smoking, but did you know that smoking can specifically impact your vaginal health? When compared to non-smokers, women that smoke experience more irregular and more painful periods. Smoking can lead to lower estrogen levels and vaginal dryness. Smoking can impact your vaginal health later in life by causing early menopause and difficulties becoming pregnant. 

Thinking every woman’s vaginal health is identical

No two vaginas are the same. While basic vaginal health practices exist, every vagina and the care it requires is unique. Southdale ObGyn understands each vagina has varying needs, and they have the experience to meet those needs. It’s important to have honest conversations with your gynecologist regarding any vaginal health issues or concerns you have.