Vaginal Health


Lets take a moment to get personal. We all have one or at least know someone who has one. Let's talk vaginal health. The amount of people who aren't familiar with their vagina and how to look after it is shocking. I work in sexual health and you'd be surprised how often people come in with 'normal discharge' thinking that it might be something else.

Every vagina is different in shape, colour, smell, size and discharge. All vaginas have what we call 'friendly bacteria' (Lactobacilli). A healthy vagina has an acidic environment and the friendly bacteria helps fight of infections and aids in maintaining pH levels. The vagina is self cleaning, it does this by keeping itself clean using natural secretions, that most refer to as discharge. This is that white stuff that you sometimes see on your underwear/pantyliners. Having discharge is not a bad thing but dramatic changes in discharge may be sign into a possible infection. The colour of your discharge can vary from clear (kind of like raw egg whites) to a milky/creamy white. It is important to know what is normal for you so any changes can be seen to.

Bacterial Vaginosis, BV, and yeast are the two common infections that can cause abnormal vaginal discharge. BV is caused by the rapid growth of several bacteria in the vagina. these bacteria are opportunistic and use the altered pH of the vagina to grow. BV usually presents as grey-like, offensive smelling fishy discharge. Continuous use of feminine products can alter the pH, as most of these products are scented they can cover alter you scent not allowing you to know whether you have BV. There are several products on the market that advertise to 'clean' your genital area, when they are actually causing problems and masking the issue. Not one of the nurses and doctors I work with recommend the use of feminine hygiene products like femfresh. 

Candida, also know as yeast, can cause problems if given the right environment to grow. Several things can provide a yeast with the right environment. Some birth control pills, pregnancy, diabetes constant use of feminine care products, your period and damp underwear. Basically anything that can change the balance of normal flora of the vagina.

Here are some take away tips in keeping your vagina healthy
- Avoid using harsh soaps or cleansers
- Maintain a healthy diet that can benefit your vaginal health. Drinking cranberry juice can work wonders when you have a UTI and yogurt can aid in the prevention of yeast infections
- Drink plenty water
- Practise safe sex
- See a GP or visit a sexual health clinic if you are unsure about anything
- If you are over the age of 25 have regular smear tests
- Treat all infections as soon as the rise, do not let them linger as they can cause further issues
- Wear breathable (cotton) underwear
- Avoid self medicating.

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