As a woman, you really put your body through the ringer — the good, the bad, and the downright scary. (Pap smears, anyone? Yikes!) But no body part endures as much hell as the vagina. From periods to intercourse and even birthing a child, your vagina has seen it all. And just like every other part of your bodies, it’s important to take care of your lady parts. Unfortunately, there several ways you might be hurting your vagina without knowing it.
The truth it, as much you may love your lady parts, you probably aren’t giving your vagina the attention it deserves. Think about it. When was the last time you had a conversation — or even thought about — the health of your vagina? My guess is not as frequently as you should. And the smallest things, from your underwear selection to your sexual habits, can do some serious harm. The good news is that with a little bit of effort, that’s an easy habit to break. Read on to learn about the seven most common mistakes women make when it comes to caring for their vaginas, and how to tweak your habits to fix them. After all, doesn’t your vagina deserve to be happy and healthy too?
1. You’re Wearing the Wrong Underwear
It’s fine to throw on a revealing thong or silk panties when you want to feel a little sexier, but for everyday wear, nothing beats good old cotton underwear. According to the Women’s Health Clinic, wearing cotton underwear (or at least something with a cotton lining) helps circulate air and prevent rubbing, keeping your nether regions dry and happy.
2. You’re Douching and Don’t Need To
Why waste the money when douching only causes pain? The Women’s Health Clinic notes that douching can “upset the vagina's natural balance and increase the risk of irritation,” which sounds super unpleasant if you ask me. Not to mention your vagina cleans itself by naturally producing good bacteria that helps wipe out the bad bacteria. Douching only interferes with that process, so it’s best to stay away from that aisle of the drug store.
3. You’re Wiping From Front to Back
I hope someone was kind enough to set you straight on wiping. But if they weren’t, here’s a refresher. Wiping from back to front transfers bacteria from your derriere into your vagina. Not an ideal situation. Save yourself from possible infections, and wipe from front to back.
4. You’re Eating an Unbalanced Diet
Eating healthy doesn’t just affect the scale. In an interview with Everyday Health, sex and relationship therapist Laura Berman noted the strong correlation between diet and vaginal health. “Incorporating certain foods into a balanced diet is one of the simplest ways not only to promote a strong reproductive system, but also to prevent a host of typical south-of-the-border woes,” she explained. Berman expanded on her point by noting that a diet high in healthy probiotics can help maintain your vagina’s healthy pH balance, while cranberry juice, leafy vegetables also aid in its health.
5. You Don’t Have Hair Down There
A study from University of Indiana reports that almost half of women remove their genital hair. While there are no serious health risks related to hair removal, it can cause irritation, razor burn and ingrown hairs. When maintaining your “lady lawn” it’s important to take proper precautions to avoid these common, uncomfortable situations. The Center for Young Women’s Health says that when it comes to shaving it’s important to, “invest in good tools such as: scissors, razor, shaving cream or gel, and plan on shaving every couple of days.”
6. You Don’t Change Your Pad or Tampon Enough
Though it will vary slightly for each woman, you should swap out your pad or tampon before it becomes soaked with blood. The Office on Women’s Health suggests to changing your tampon or pad every four to eight hours depending on the heaviness of the flow. Not doing this can result in some pretty scary consequences, including infection and, in rare cases, toxic shock syndrome. So save yourself the worry and change that baby frequently.
7. You Have Unsafe Sex
When it comes time for a roll in the hay, it’s important to keep proper hygiene in mind. Wash your hands before any hands-on foreplay and be sure to change condoms if switching between oral, anal, and vaginal. Both of these precautions prevent harmful bacteria from entering your vagina. Also, if you experience intense chaffing post-coitous, you may want to add some lube to your routine.