Vaginal Health: Vaginal Self-Care to Keep Your Lady Bits Healthy

If you own a vagina, you probably know the great importance of keeping it clean, well-groomed, and happy. This strong muscular tube that is the holy grail of the female reproductive system serves as a conduit for a multitude of very important functions, such as menstruation, sexual relations and, of course, childbirth. It goes without saying that keeping you happy is vital, not only for your overall health and well-being, but also for your ability to feel comfortable and carry out your daily responsibilities.

Many people tend to refer to the vagina as the external and visible part of the female genitalia; however, technically this is called a vulva. Only the interior (the thick, elastic muscular walls) is biologically called the vagina. “The muscle wall is composed of two layers of muscle fibers, a weak inner circular layer and a strong outer longitudinal layer,” explains the Canada-based naturopathic doctor and birth doula. Sarah Conners, North Dakota. “Covering the muscle tissue is a sheath of connective tissue consisting of blood vessels, lymphatic ducts, and nerve fibers, which joins the tissues of the urinary bladder, rectum, and other pelvic structures.”

One of the most fascinating features of the vagina is its self-cleaning ability. In other words, it cleans itself—there’s no need to “cleanse” the vagina with special soaps, douches, or any other “cleansing” tools or techniques, explains Dr. Connors. Even the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) It attests that the vagina is cleansed and kept healthy by maintaining the correct pH balance and cleansing itself with natural secretions.

How does your vagina do this? Using the “good” bacteria it contains. “These bacteria maintain the ideal pH balance in the vagina, which is slightly acidic and the lining cells contain large amounts of glycogen (stored animal starch),” says Dr. Connors. “Bacteria inside the vagina ferment glycogen, so that lactic acid is produced, which makes the surface of the lining slightly acidic, thus protecting against disease-causing microorganisms that have entered through the vaginal canal.”

Super cool, right? But just because you don’t need soap or products to clean your vagina, it’s still very important to practice good vaginal care, especially when it comes to the external genital area known as the vulva. The tricky part is knowing how to navigate the ever-expanding market for vagina-focused products. There are a lot of products that claim to “cleanse” the vagina or alter its pH to be more beneficial when, in reality, they are loaded with harsh chemicals, strong fragrances, and ingredients that can make you more susceptible to infection and irritation. warns Allison RodgersMD, OB/GYN, reproductive endocrinologist at Fertility Centers of Illinois.

That said, there are some products and substances that have been used for hundreds, if not thousands, of years and are still useful today. In this article we delve into the best products on the market to take care of your vagina and give it the love it deserves.

Vaginal steam for vaginal health

Also known as “yoni steaming” or “v-steaming,” this ancient practice has become more popular in recent years. This process involves preparing a large basin with hot water and a bath of herbs, such as mugwort, rosemary, lavender, calendula, chamomile, rose petals, dong quai, and yarrow, and allowing them to heat enough to produce steam. explains Dr. Connors. The person then sits on an open-bottomed chair or stool with a blanket, robe, or other suitable covering over the lower half to prevent steam from escaping. “This practice has been used in many parts of the world and the reported benefits of the practice of using steam or smoke for the vagina include detoxification, hormonal balance, fertility, healing after childbirth and treatment of hemorrhoids, to name a few,” she says. . “At the moment, there are not many studies done to support the practice, but many have felt that it was beneficial for them.”

It is worth noting that many Western health professionals are quite skeptical about the possible benefits of vaginal steaming and are much more concerned about the potential risks involved, such as burns or other injuries to the individual during treatment. If he decides to use this practice, Dr. Connors highly recommends working with someone who is well trained in this field and knows how to prevent injuries.

Probiotics for vaginal health

You’ve probably heard that probiotics can be incredibly beneficial for your gut health, but you might be surprised to know that they can also improve the well-being of your vagina. Research, including a study published in the journal. frontiers in microbiologyhave shown that certain strains of probiotics, specifically lactobacillus acidophilus and lactobacillus reuteri, can help maintain a healthy vaginal pH.

“Taking probiotics orally can be helpful, but there are now also suppository options available that can be inserted directly into the vagina, which can be helpful especially in cases of infection as it is a more direct route,” he says. Dr. Connors.

If you are new to using probiotics, Dr. Connors recommends talking to your healthcare provider about which strains may be best for you and whether using them would be beneficial. “This is particularly important for probiotics in suppositories, since we are putting something directly into the vaginal canal,” he adds. We suggest taking HUM Private Party to help achieve vaginal balance

Coconut oil for vaginal health

This fatty acid-rich oil that comes from the fleshy part of the coconut plant is a popular Ayurvedic option for moisturizing the vulva, according to the naturopath. Kiera Lane, NMD, MSAc, L.Ac., Dipl. Ac., director of Arizona Natural Medicine. “Applying a small amount externally can help soothe dryness and reduce friction, providing natural lubrication,” he says. “Its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties make it a safe and beneficial option to support overall vulvar health.”

It’s a good idea to opt for cold-pressed virgin coconut oil if you plan to use it for vaginal moisturizing or lubricating purposes, as this variety has the lowest risk of irritation.

Triphala

This ancient Ayurvedic herbal formula consists of three different fruits: Indian Gooseberry (Amalaki), Bibhitaki and Haritaki. When mixed, these fruits are believed to create a synergistic effect that can aid digestion, immunity, and overall well-being. While there isn’t much research to support its ability, triphala is believed to help treat the symptoms of yeast infections and urinary tract infections and reduce the burning sensation associated with these conditions.

neem oil

Derived from the seeds of the neem tree (also known as Azadirachta indica), neem oil has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. It is best known for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties; However, there is limited scientific evidence to support its capabilities in the vaginal health department. That said, neem oil contains a compound known as azadirachtin, which is thought to help fight bacteria and fungi that may be associated with certain vaginal infections.

If you intend to use neem oil, it is important to ensure that you dilute it properly as it is quite potent and can otherwise cause skin irritation. If used, it is advisable to dilute neem oil with a carrier oil before applying it to the genital area. It’s also a good idea to do a little patch test on your risk to check for any adverse reactions before using it on your delicate lady parts.

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