Practising good feminine hygiene helps prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs), yeast infections and general irritation and itchiness. Feminine care brand Liv® offers advice from experts on how to maintain a healthy vagina:
Change clothes after workouts
Warm, moist places are perfect conditions for yeast infections to thrive in, according to ob-gyn and women’s health expert Dr Jessica Shepherd. Gym and yoga pants are usually made from synthetic fabric, which doesn’t allow for much breathability and tends to retain humidity and heat. You should change out of sweaty athletic gear and have a shower as soon as you’ve finished playing sport or working out.
Avoid using soap
Soap can disrupt your vagina’s optimal pH balance, as it can interfere with the environment of ‘good’ bacteria which are necessary to maintain the ideal level of acidity (3.5-4.5). Dr Lauren Streicher, clinical associate professor of obstetrics and gynaecology, explains that these good bacteria produce lactic acid and if they’re damaged by stringent
chemicals, your vaginal pH levels could fall below normal, resulting in a greater risk of infection. Look for a pH-balanced body wash, preferably one that contains natural ingredients and no harmful chemicals. You should also avoid using vaginal sprays or bath foam.
Only use water-based lubricants
While using a lubricant during sex can help prevent small tears in the vagina and urethra which contribute to infections, ob-gyn Dr Lisa Lindley cautions that petroleum-based options can actually cause even more irritation. She advocates avoiding lubricants such as glycerine, which can encourage the growth of harmful bacteria.
‘Void’ after sex
As women have short urethras, there’s a shorter distance for bacteria to travel to reach the bladder. ‘Sexual intercourse introduces bacteria through the urethra and into the woman’s urinary tract,’ says Dr Alan B Copperman, Vice-Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at the Icahn School of Medicine in Mount Sinai Hospital, New York. Urinating after sex helps flush bacteria out before they can reach the bladder.
See a doctor if you’re having recurring infections
Most women will experience a yeast infection at least once during their life. However, if you’re regularly
suffering from them, there might be an underlying cause that needs treatment. See your doctor for the
necessary tests and treatment.
Have regular pap smears
Pap smears every three years are essential for all women aged 21-65. If you’ve had ovarian cancer before or
are at high genetic risk of developing it, you may need to have a Pap smear every year or second year. Check
with your doctor.
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This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis and treatment. Always consult your GP or medical specialist for specific information regarding your health.