Women have access to tons of information on how to stay healthy these days. Proper nutrition, regular exercise, and taking loads of good vitamins and supplements are common ingredients in a wellness routine. But many women may be committing some vaginal care mistakes or overlooking vaginal health altogether. That's right ladies, if you thought you could let this one slip by, think again.
After having the opportunity to talk to Lisa Dabney, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, about vaginal hygiene, I learned that I have been guilty of a few disservices to my vagina. But as it turns out, I am not the only woman who is neglecting to check all these best practices off her list. Dabney sees many women who believe common misconceptions about vaginal care, or who just aren't sure of everything they can do to avoid potential problems from popping up.
Thankfully, your vaginas knows how to take care of itself and requires very little — but diligent — assistance from you. Forget everything television commercials and old wives tales want you to believe about taking care of your vagina, and learn how to avoid the seven vaginal care mistakes most women make.
1. Cleaning With Harsh Soaps
Before you start scrubbing away with a bottle of antibacterial soap, remember this: the vagina is a self-cleaning organ. "Many women have the mistaking impression that the vagina is dirty and needs to be cleaned with harsh soaps and detergents," Dabney says. "These only irritate the delicate vaginal tissues and kill off the good bacteria-lactobacillis."
If you do want to use a soap to clean your vaginal area, Dabney suggests thinking of the what products you would use on your face. Most women wouldn't dare to slather on irritating chemical soaps over their face — the tissue of the vulva and vagina is just as sensitive, so treat them with the same care.
2. Wearing Tight Fitting Pants
Is it true your skinny jeans and exercise pants could be bad for your vagina? Dabney says any clothes that are tight in the crotch area, or are made with non-breathable fabrics make it hard for the oxygen to flow to that area. If you just can't give up those perfect pair of skinnies, try exercising in breathable fabrics for some counteraction.
3. Using A Douche
Douching commercials may promise to leave you feeling "shower fresh" but they are actually damaging your vagina. Remember that good bacteria Dabney was talking about? Well, vaginas need that to help keep its microenvironment operating properly.
According to the Office of Women's Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, douching can lead to yeast infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, problems becoming pregnant, problems during pregnancy, and vaginal irritation and dryness.
4. Panicking Over Discharge
Vaginal discharge changes consistency over the course of a woman's monthly cycle. Sometimes, these changes can cause woman to become alarmed and panic. But Dabney always reminds women that these changes are just part of the process, and not abnormal at all. But this is strictly for changes in the thickness and texture of discharge.
That being said, you should see a doctor if you see any symptoms related to vaginal discharge, such a green or yellow discharge, a strong vaginal order, or irritation of the vagina.
5. Wearing Underwear To Bed
Turns out Grandma was right when she told you to let those lady parts breath at night. Toss those undies in the hamper before you crawl into bed and let some fresh air in. Dabney suggests wearing loose fitting boxer shorts or pajama pants when sleeping.
6. Using Panty Liners
When it comes to wearing these little cotton strips, Dabney says "they irritate the vulva and usually increase discharge." Looks like you better keep more than one emergency tampon in your purse.
7. Ignoring Abnormal Bleeding Or Pain
Sometimes we can freak out about the smallest things that don't matter, and completely ignore the big things that should be causing us to take action. When it comes to vaginal care, women can misconstrue serious symptoms such as abnormal bleeding or pain, two things that should never be ignored.
If you experience either of these symptoms, be sure to call your doctor right away.
Taking good care of your vagina is an important part of staying healthy. Luckily, it's a pretty hands off chore. Try sticking to these tips to avoid problems down the road. You're skinny jeans may stop speaking to you, but your vagina will thank you.