Understanding your body is fundamental. As a woman, it’s even more vital to understand your vaginal health. From how the female reproductive system functions and affects the body to knowing the correct ways to maintain a good hygiene routine. It not only helps your vaginal health but overall body health.
Explore the advice provided to understand your vaginal health better, the importance of conditions to watch out for, and the need to visit a doctor frequently to prevent any infection from developing. It may seem awkward to speak with a doctor when your body appears to feel strange, yet doing so can ultimately be beneficial.
For instance, if you receive the diagnosis that you have a condition called vaginal atrophy, your physician can help you find the right vaginal atrophy treatment.
Learn more about what’s happening inside your vagina and what is necessary to keep it healthy.
- Understanding the Female Reproductive System
- Menstrual cycle and Hormonal Changes
- Maintaining Good Vaginal Health
- Seeking Medical Help & Diagnosis
- Understanding Intimate Woman Care
Understanding the Female Reproductive System
The female reproductive system is comprised of internal and external organs that create hormones responsible for fertility, menstruation and sexual activity.
The role of your external genitals is to protect your internal organs from infection and to allow sperm to enter your vagina for the fertilization process.
People often mistakenly use the term “vagina” to describe all the female reproductive parts, except your vagina is its structure inside the body. The vulva is the collective name for all your external genitals.
Menstrual cycle and Hormonal Changes
The menstrual cycle, also known as a period, is a cycle of hormonal activity that repeats about once a month. Periods can begin anywhere from 11 to 16 years old, usually taking almost 28 days to occur.
The follicular phase begins on the first day of your period and releases two hormones, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), for egg production.
The ovulatory phase begins about 14 days after the follicular phase has begun and the egg is released from the ovary. The egg releasing is called ovulation.
In the luteal phase, the corpus luteum is created right after ovulation and forms to release estrogen and progesterone hormones. Progesterone prepares your uterus for the fertilized egg to implant.
Pregnancy begins if intercourse takes place and conception occurs, making the fertilized egg and embryo. The embryo then travels through the fallopian tube to implant in your uterus.
If conception does not occur, it dissolves in your uterus.
Since there is no need to support a pregnancy, the lining of the uterus breaks down and sheds. This is when the period begins.
Maintaining Good Vaginal Health
Having a good routine for vaginal health is vital. It’s important to maintain good habits to prevent various infections and conditions that can cause discomfort.
Importance of practising good hygiene
As stated above, a good vaginal hygiene can protect you from preventing infections. Since your vaginal area has a delicate balance of natural bacteria and pH levels, poor hygiene can trigger the balance, and harmful bacteria can start to grow. If you end up being diagnosed with an infection, depending on which one it is, it can also cause discomfort.
Maintaining good hygiene can also reduce your and your partner’s risk of transmitted diseases when partaking in sexual activity.
If you are pregnant or undergoing postpartum care, having a good hygiene routine helps ensure your body processes as normal as possible.
All in all, maintaining good hygiene practices contributes to general comfort and well-being in your daily life.
Choosing the Right Intimate Care Products
As mentioned above, the vagina has pH levels. Certain products or ways of maintaining your hygiene can cause your levels to increase and risk getting infections.
When practising good hygiene, choosing the right intimate care products is essential. Choosing mild or unscented soaps is good for keeping your vaginal pH levels balanced. Harsh soaps or scented ones can disrupt your balance.
Tips to Prevent Infections & Discomfort
Besides the products you use, other factors can affect your pH level or help to decrease the risk of getting an infection.
The following are:
- Types of underwear you wear: Cotton underwear garments and ensuring they are breathable will keep you from any moisture build-up.
- Avoid douching: Douching can increase the risk of infections because it can disturb the natural balance of the vaginal flora. Remember that the vagina is self-cleaning and doesn’t require douching.
- Always wipe front to back: After using the toilet, always wipe front to back. Doing this will prevent the spread of bacteria coming from the anal area to the vagina.
- Practice safe sex: Condoms can help prevent further infection spread during intercourse.
- Staying hydrated: Drinking enough water will help your body stay hydrated and support your vaginal health.
- Regular check-ups: Knowing and making sure that your body is healthy with regular check-ups is preventive and reassuring.
Note: Every individual has different needs or might experience things differently. Always consider what works best for you and how your body feels and reacts.
Unfortunately, gynaecological issues can arise because of various reasons. Vaginal conditions can involve a combination of hormonal, lifestyle, genetic and environmental factors.
Some of these issues include:
- Menstrual disorders: consist of irregular periods, heavy bleeding and painful periods. These can form because of hormonal imbalances, thyroid issues, weight gain and stress.
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: also called PCOS, is linked to hormonal imbalances and can disrupt your ovulation, lead to irregular periods, and form ovarian cysts.
- Pelvic Organ Prolapse: can occur when the muscles and ligaments supporting the pelvic organs weaken. This can occur after childbirth, weight gain and chronic coughing.
- Yeast Infections: occur when there is an overgrowth of the candida fungus. Hormonal changes, antibiotics, high sugar intake and a weakened immune system trigger this.
On a more serious note, other vaginal conditions can be developed over time, such as:
- Vaginal Atrophy: usually affects those transitioning to menopause. It’s when your vagina gets drier and thinner from the lack of estrogen. It can make it burn, itchy, and make intercourse painful.
- Vulvar Lichen Sclerosis: affects people of all ages, including children, but it is more common in women over 50. It causes itchy, white, easily damaged patches.
- Vulvar Cancer: this rare cancer forms in your vulva, developing abnormal growth in the outermost layer of your skin.
- Vulvar Dermatitis: causes an irritated and itchy vulva and can be more common in those with lower estrogen levels.
Seeking Medical Help & Diagnosis
If you ever notice your body feeling different or unsure about your vaginal health, seeking professional health is a must. Healthcare providers can answer your questions, discuss topics, give diagnoses, provide treatments, and generally keep you aware of how your body is doing.
Medical Examinations & Tests
When you are seeking medical help or want to know if you are diagnosed with something, medical examinations can be performed.
Here are some of the examinations and tests that are available:
- Pelvic Examination: Having a general physical exam of your external and internal genitalia helps to identify any abnormalities or signs of disease.
- Pap Smear Test: This test helps to detect abnormal cervical cells or cervical cancer by collecting cells to examine them under a microscope.
- STI Testing: These tests help to identify any sexually transmitted infections such as syphilis, HPV, gonorrhoea, and chlamydia by using samples of blood, urine or swabs from the genital area.
- Vaginal Hormonal Levels: Your hormone levels can be tested to evaluate conditions such as vaginal dryness or menopause-related changes.
Discussing Symptoms & Concerns
To guarantee immediate and accurate diagnosis and receive the appropriate treatment for any underlying health issues, you must freely discuss vaginal symptoms and concerns with your doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment may reduce discomfort or problems for your overall well-being, help maintain reproductive health, and prevent further concerns.
Understanding Intimate Woman Care
Understanding your body’s reproductive system, keeping good hygienic habits, selecting suitable products, and spotting problems early on, are all significant elements of intimate woman care. This encourages women to prioritise their vaginal health, resulting in overall well-being, and finally, developing body awareness and practising self-care to form essential foundations in your journey toward a healthier, more confident you.