Taking care down there
We’re taking our conversation about women’s health down south. There’s a lot to know about this life - and the vagina and we want to help women of all ages understand how to maintain its health.
Like women, no two vaginas are the same – and women’s health expert Dr Sandra Cabot says that the vagina is still is a bit of a mystery to many of us.
“The vagina still holds a lot of confusion, even for women. It is a very important part of a woman and it does reflect her general health and hormones,” she says.
Because it’s not something many of us talk about openly with friends, it’s hard to know what’s normal, what other women do to keep their vaginas healthy (if anything) and what not to do if you’re having some trouble. Dr Cabot notes that changes in vaginal health can often point to other issues, and more serious problems if left untreated.
Protect what protects you
The vagina is a unique part of the body because it's more acidic, like the stomach. Acid protects your gut – and interestingly your vagina – against infection. But this acidity also protects your body from harmful bacteria getting in.
“The vagina is a bit like a barrier against more serious infection. That's why it's good to keep it healthy,” Dr Cabot says.
“The vagina has a low pH, so it's very important that the pH is right, otherwise you will get thrush or vaginal odour and other unhealthy bacteria growing there. These can travel higher up into your uterus and your fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory issues.”
pH is a measurement of how acidic or alkaline (or basic) a substance is. The scale runs from 0 to 14. A pH of less than 7 is considered acidic, and a pH of more than 7 is basic. A normal vaginal pH level is between 3.8 and 4.5, which is moderately acidic.
One thing that can disrupt pH levels and mucus membrane in the vagina is the products you use in the shower. Many soaps and body washes contain harsh chemicals, artificial fragrances and preservatives that damage the vagina’s delicate balance. Dr Cabot recommends using organic products that will enhance acidic pH or those that will maintain the vagina’s pH.
You can try endota spa Organics Intimate Wash, which has been sensitively formulated and designed to respect the delicate vaginal ecology, with a refreshing and effective cleansing action.
Healthy gut, healthy vagina
An unhealthy gut can often be linked to imbalances in vaginal bacteria, and Dr Cabot says this can be traced back to diet and lifestyle. There are so many benefits of a balanced diet for your overall health and wellbeing – and a healthy vagina is one of them.
“If you have unhealthy bacteria in your gut caused by eating too much sugar or a lot of refined carbohydrates, you can get bladder and vaginal infections.”
“It sounds simple, but you need to eat a really healthy diet. You may find that just by improving your diet, your vaginal pH will become much better, and you’ll have the right type of bacteria in your vagina,” says Dr Cabot.
Make sure you include a lot of vegetables, good protein from eggs, unprocessed cheese, red meat, seafood, nuts, avocados, berries, seeds and fruit.
While using the right products and some diet and lifestyle changes can help, if you’ve got an itch, some discomfort, dryness or anything that doesn’t feel right, head to a health professional. Don’t be embarrassed to talk about it and get to the bottom of the issue. Let’s take care of ourselves and all of our parts.