Vaginal health 101

Reviewed by Theresa H. Care Delivery Manager & Family Nurse Practitioner

Time saver 3 min read

Your body is amazing. It’s always working for you and doing everything possible to maintain health and balance. This includes your vagina and the vaginal microbiome that is made up of billions of microorganisms including different types of bacteria and yeast. But sometimes, things like shifting hormones and the medications you take can upset the balance of these microorganisms. And, let’s be honest, when something feels off with your vagina, it’s all you can think about. We share information and insights about vaginal health and ways you can promote balance and well-being.

Listen to your body

Depending on the cause, disruptions in your vaginal microbiome can result in a range of symptoms like vaginal itching, redness, irritation, swelling and discharge. These symptoms can be really uncomfortable and raise all sorts of questions. Is your period on its way? Could you be pregnant? Do you have a STI? Or maybe a yeast infection?

You know your body best. And if you notice changes in your vaginal health or symptoms that affect your quality of life, it’s important to reach out to a medical provider and voice your concerns.

Concerning vaginal symptoms

  • Itching, swelling or redness
  • Bleeding between periods
  • New bumps, lumps, sores or rashes
  • Pain during sex
  • Abnormal discharge

Prioritizing vaginal health

Vaginal health plays an integral role in overall health and well-being. But most of us don’t have a good understanding about the things that can help or harm our vaginal microbiome. Keep reading for tips on ways to keep your vagina happy and healthy.

Vaginal health: 5 things that matter

1. What you wear matters

Healthy skin needs breathing room – including the skin in and around your vagina. While synthetic fabrics - like Lyca and spandex - tend to trap heat and moisture and create the perfect environment for bacteria and yeast to grow unchecked, cotton is a natural, soft and breathable fabric. Wear cotton underwear and change out of sweaty workout leggings and wet swimsuits as soon as possible. Your vagina will thank you.

2. Your hormones matter

People who menstruate experience normal monthly hormonal fluctuations that affect the vaginal microbiome. Additionally, taking the birth control pill or using the patch or ring can also cause hormones – and the makeup of microorganisms in your vagina – to fluctuate and sometimes become unbalanced.

3. What you eat & drink matters

You know that consuming lots of sugar is bad for your overall health. But did you know that sugary foods and beverages can also negatively affect your vaginal health? Help keep all of your body in balance – and blood sugar levels and yeast (or candida) in check – by eating a diet rich in whole foods, fruits, vegetables and lean proteins.

4. How you get clean matters

When lathering up, ditch harsh soaps that can irritate the sensitive skin around the vagina – throwing off PH levels and leading to symptoms like redness, burning and even yeast infections. Use a mild unscented soap to wash the exterior vulva and don’t douche or worry about cleaning the inside of your vagina – it's self-cleaning! Trust us, if your vagina was supposed to be lavender-scented it would be, naturally.

5. The meds you take matter

When bacterial infections strike, you may need to take antibiotics. These prescription medications are super effective at killing off the bacteria that’s causing your strep throat or sinus infection. However, the good bacteria in your gut and vagina can also be wiped out – triggering the overgrowth of yeast and (you guessed it) a vaginal yeast infection.

Prioritize your health

You’re not a collection of parts. You’re a whole being – body, mind and spirit. And the health of your vagina and vaginal microbiome can positively or negatively affect how you feel in your body. Take charge of your health. Get to know your body and tune in to the messages it sends all day, every day. And, if you have questions or concerns about your vaginal or sexual health, speak up and seek advice from a medical provider.

Share this post

Do you know someone who could use a simple & affordable healthcare option?