You don’t have to be a nutritionist to know that eating good-for-you foods can benefit your overall health. But there are also certain foods that may affect your vaginal health in particular. If you’re eager to avoid yeast infections (and who isn’t?), maintain a healthy pH balance, or even improve your sex life, some foods can help the cause. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true: other snacks may actually make you more prone to infections down there (and they tend to be snacks of the delicious junk food variety).
Some of these correlations between food and a healthy vagina are kind of mind-blowing. Did you know that there is a type of fruit that may boost women’s sexual satisfaction? Or that getting enough of one type of vitamin could keep your cervix from developing a precancerous condition? In some cases, food really is medicine.
And, of course, most of the foods that are beneficial fall into the very healthy camp: vegetables, fruits, and legumes feature pretty prominently. But — bummer alert — a box of sugary cookies might actually increase your chances for certain infections. So sticking to rich yogurts, sweet fruits, and tasty quinoa may help keep your vaginal health in tip-top shape.
1. Greek Yogurt
Yogurt is not only a tasty snack, but one that can help keep you balanced. "Yogurt with live and active cultures are probiotics and may be involved in helping the vagina maintain a healthy acidic pH and balance," OB-GYN Mary Rosser, explained in Women's Health. All the more reason to enjoy a yogurt parfait for breakfast.
2. Soy Products
Tofu, edamame, and soy milk might be helpful in keeping your vagina in great working order. As noted in Everyday Health, "if you experience vaginal dryness, ask your doctor if you should eat more soy products, which contain a weak form of estrogen that can aid natural lubrication." Turns out tofu might not be such a boring food after all.
Eating asparagus won't have any serious health consequences, but it may cause one notable side effect. “If you ingest foods with very strong odors like asparagus or garlic or curry, it’s possible that that can translate to a smell in your vaginal area,” physician Djinge Lindsay told Buzzfeed. It's just something you may want to be aware of.
Do you eat an apple a day? Then your vagina may experience some positive sexual benefits from this habit. A 2014 study in the Archive of Gynecology and Obstetrics found that young women who ate an apple daily reported higher sexual satisfaction (and even increased lubrication). Hey, maybe Eve was onto something.
5. Black Beans
Fiber-rich foods such as black beans or quinoa can also help keep you healthy down there. "Fiber is a pre-biotic, so without enough, you won't be nurturing the good bacteria in your bowel," Jennifer Gunter, director of the Center for Pelvic Pain and Vulvovaginal Disorders at Kaiser Permanente, explained in Shape. "And the best way to keep your vagina healthy is to keep your colon healthy, as most bacteria comes from the colon." Fiber can also be found in bran, berries, and whole grains.
6. Green Leafy Veggies
This is specific: some foods are beneficial for your cervix in particular. The University of Maryland Medical Center reported "low levels of folate (vitamin B9) in red blood cells" as a potential risk factor in developing cervical dysplasia, which is an "abnormal growth of precancerous cells on the surface of the cervix." But some leafy green veggies can help boost your intake. A cup of cooked spinach, for instance, contains over half the daily recommended intake of folate.
Simple sugars, white flour, and processed snacks might contribute to problems below the belt. "Vaginal yeast infections are most often caused by a fungus called Candida albicans," doctor David L. Katz wrote for Oprah. "Yeast loves sugar, which may help explain why women who get a lot of it in their diet seem to suffer more infections." Swapping out sugary snacks for a cup of yogurt may help you avoid those obnoxious infections.