I know what you're thinking - do I really need to read another article on how to take care of my va-jay-jay? The answer is yes. You can never have enough information on caring for your hoo-ha when black women in particular suffer more from vaginal infections, STD's and STI's than other groups of women. While much of our risks can be due to lack of access to preventative care, some of it is ignorance and lack of information. The following tips will keep you in the know and potentially keep you in the clear health wise as well.
1. Use organic or less harmful sanitary items
While menstrual cups may seem scary to some, they're actual better for you compared to the popular choice; tampons. Tampons can potentially interfere with PH balance and absorb protective vaginal bacteria while menstrual cups do not. All natural sanitary napkins and tampons are another option and are widely available for use instead of the harmful chemical containing products. It's also best to avoid douching and using anything with fragrance including sprays, wipes and soaps. These increase the chances of developing fungal infections and bacterial vaginosis. Plain old water and unscented soap will do just fine.
2. No condom + commitment = no sex
One of the best ways to keep your lady parts clean is to keep them to yourself. It's not often that most women fully enjoy sex let alone come across a man worthy of it, so why not be stingy and save it for the perfect guy? If he really wants you, he'll wait and if he wants it bad enough, he'll also agree to using protection. Remember ladies, we are the gatekeepers of sex so use your power for what it's worth.
3. Don't ignore anything fishy
Paying close attention to how your vagina normally operates cannot be stressed enough. Any new or foul smelling discharge, redness or itching should not be ignored. A burning sensation that's worse with urination and/or a fishy order can indicate bacterial vaginosis. Don't wait until anything abnormal becomes painful or unbearable, see a doctor right away.
4. Wipe from front to back
Depending on who your momma is, this may sound like conflicting information. We all were taught differently but common sense tells us that the proper way to wipe is from front to back. When you do the opposite, you run the risk of transferring bacteria from the anus to the vagina. This can cause bacterial vaginsosis or just a smelly vagina and we know you don't want that. Wipe properly and save yourself the mess.
5. Stay clean and dry
Too much moisture and dirt down there can cause yeast to grow and other nasty infections. These best way to combat this is to wear comfortable cotton undies especially in the summer when it's hot and humid out. After a workout or a swim, change immediately and avoid lingering in wetness and filth. If you're naturally sweaty or damp in your private area then keeping an extra pair of panties to change into during the day is the best way to go.
6. Eat healthier
Like everything else on your body, a healthy diet assists with maintaining a healthy vagina. All natural cranberry juice is said to fight off bad vaginal bacteria along with garlic and yogurt. Eating a diet rich with vitamins and minerals is said to make anything vagina related from periods to orgasms a little bit easier. Sounds like a benefit to me.
7. See your gynecologist regularly
If you are sexually active, getting a pap smear twice a year is the recommended minimum. Gynecologic exams should start at age 21 and all women over 25 are advised to get a cervix screening to check for cancerous cells. This is especially important for black women considering that we are twice as likely to die from cervical cancer than our white counterparts. Preventative care is available at affordable clinics such as Planned Parenthood so don't be ashamed to sign up for Medicaid and book your appointment if that is your only options. Low cost healthcare is better than no healthcare and it's always better to be safe than sorry.
No matter what you were taught, if you're reading this, you can always do something different. Take your health matters into your own hands and employ these feminine hygiene tips immediately. Lady-V will thank you for it.