Is Your Vagina in Good Health?
The vagina is often a very private body part that women are shy to talk about. For example, some women are embarrassed to seek medical help when they experience problems such as vaginal itch, vaginal odour and vaginal laxity (looseness in the vagina). However, this intimate topic of vaginal health is one that all women should be aware of. What should you know about caring for your vaginal health then?
Healthy Vaginas have Low Bacteria Biodiversity
Unlike our gut, a healthy vagina has low diversity, comprising mainly of the Lactobacillus bacteria. The acidic pH in the vagina is due to the production of lactic acid by these bacteria. Depletion of these good bacteria in the vagina can result in infections by other bad bacteria or yeast. A common vaginal infection experienced by women is bacterial vaginosis which usually presents with discharge that has a fishy odour. Typically, this is managed with the use of antibiotics, but the risk of recurrence is often high. Repeated use of antibiotics is also not ideal as it could reduce the microbial flora in your gut.
Poor Vaginal Health can have Other Implications
Apart from having an increased risk and recurrence of bacteria vaginosis, women with poor vaginal health can also have a higher chance of getting yeast infections and STIs (sexually-transmitted infections). Improving the healthy bacteria population in your vagina can help to reduce the recurrence of another bacterial vaginosis or yeast infection episode. It is also thought that poor vaginal health can have an impact on some women’s chances of pregnancy and a possible cause of endometriosis.
Ways to Improve Vaginal Health
While some women might think that cleaning the vagina thoroughly can improve vaginal health, practices like vaginal douching may actually make matters worse. Some of the ways that can be adopted include lifestyle changes such as changing what you eat and quitting smoking. Select types of pre- and pro-biotics can also be useful in promoting a healthy bacterial population in the vagina.
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