Vaginal Health: Infections And The Low-Down On Your 'Lady Flower'
Ladies, do you really know what happens when you get a tingly sensation down there?
Dr. Alyssa Dweck, gynecologist and co-author of "V is for Vagina," a guide on everything one needs to know about vajayjays, says the word vagina itself is still labelled "gross." And if that last sentence made you cringe a bit, you're not alone.
"The 'VJ' is still a somewhat taboo subject. I challenge you to hear the word 'vagina' on television, ever," she says.
What Dweck finds even more disappointing are findings from the Association of Reproductive Professionals that states only 49 per cent of women have performed a self-examination on their vaginas, and 24 per cent have not looked at their vaginas in a year or longer.
It's still important for women to know what's going on in their bodies -- this way, any changes in or around the vagina won't seem so foreign. Having a trusted medical professional's number in your phone is also a good idea.
"It's best for a young woman to get acquainted with and establish a relationship with a gyno, so if there is an issue, it won't feel threatening or frightening," Dweck explains.
A healthy vagina is naturally acidic and contains rich quantities of bacteria that help fend off infections and maintain a normal pH level, according to Everyday Health. Small amounts of discharge are a normal way the vagina cleanses itself, just as saliva is produced to help clean our mouths.
Dweck says education on our lady parts is key, and the conversation should start at home.
"Young girls are naturally curious and I find that if I initiate conversation in my office about condoms, oral sex, risk taking behaviours including multiple partners, substance abuse, online relationships and the like, it is well received and advice heeded," she says.
Here are the most common infections to look out for when it comes to keeping your lady parts healthy.
<strong>WHAT: </strong>Vaginal yeast infections are caused by a fungus called candida. <br><strong>HOW:</strong> Yeast infections are more common than you may think. Symptoms include itchy vajayjays and thick, white, clumpy discharge that is similar to cottage cheese. Other symptoms can include pain while urinating or discomfort during sex. <br><strong>FIX IT: </strong> Oral pills from the drugstore and even homemade remedies like<a href="http://www.midwiferytoday.com/articles/garlic.asp" target="_hplink"> inserting garlic into your vagina</a>, can fight off yeast infections. If your infection is minimal, it may just go away on it's own.
<strong>WHAT: </strong>Vaginitis is inflammation of the vagina. <br><strong>HOW:</strong> This infection is your body telling you something's not right. It usually occurs when "foreign objects" like condoms, scented tampons or even soaps come in contact with your lady part. Symptoms include the dreadful itch, swelling of the vulva, stinky odour and foamy green or yellow, or even bloody discharge. <br><strong>FIX IT: </strong> Ladies, if you feel any of these symptoms, go see your gynecologist.
<strong>WHAT: </strong>Bacterial vaginosis is the imbalance of bacteria types in the vagina. <br><strong>HOW:</strong> This is one infection you'll notice right away -- probably because of the light grey discharge and fishy odour. BV is also common during sex (you may notice bleeding after sex). Having multiple sexual partners, douching or even smoking may lead to higher risks of BV. <br><strong>FIX IT: </strong> Antibiotics can work but talking to your gyno about prescriptions first and lead you in the right path.
<strong>WHAT: </strong>Atrophic vaginitis happens when your body stops producing estrogen and well, your lady flower decides to get droopy and dry up.<br><strong>HOW:</strong> It's not always about menopause. AV can happen because of lactation, periods or using anti-estrogenic drugs. And it doesn't stop there. AV symptoms include inflammation, itching, burning and discomfort during urination. <br><strong>FIX IT: </strong> Topical or oral estrogen could be effective treatments and using lubricants during sex also helps.
<strong>WHAT: </strong>This type of dryness can hit at any age -- leaving our lady parts feeling prune-ish. <br><strong>HOW:</strong> Even though it's more common in post-menopausal women, vaginal dryness occurs with low estrogen levels, inadequate foreplay and medical disorders like diabetes. <br><strong>FIX IT: </strong>The good news is, this dryness can be easily fixed. Increase your foreplay for natural lubrication or try daily vaginal moisturisers.
<strong>WHAT: </strong>Ahh-cho. Some women may feel itching or burning after intercourse with no signs of an infection.<br><strong>HOW:</strong> Experts say itching, burning, swelling, redness, rashes or hives are common symptoms of semen allergies. <br><strong>FIX IT: </strong>The first treatment is using a condom during sex, but you should also talk to a professional on overcoming intimacy obstacles.
<strong>WHAT: </strong>Vulvodynia is an "unprovoked" stinging and burning anywhere on the vulva with no apparent cause. <br><strong>HOW:</strong> There could be several reasons for vulvodynia, but your doctor may look at medical history and cancel out other infections first. <br><strong>FIX IT: </strong> Treatments differ depending on the individual. Some include soothing gels before sexual intercourse or vulvar ice packs to chill your vj.
<strong>WHAT: </strong> Eczema causes inflammation and redness to skin -- even the skin around your vagina.<br><strong>HOW:</strong> Eczema usually runs in the family. It can also be caused by conditions like asthma or allergies<br><strong>FIX IT: </strong> Treatments are easy to find -- and plentiful. Anti-itch medications, cleansers, lubricants can all help with stopping the itch.
<strong>WHAT: </strong>If you're looking for a quick pube fix, ladies, say no to the razor. Folliculitis otherwise known as ingrown hairs occur when hair follicles become infected.<br><strong>HOW:</strong> Now even though razors and shaving are big culprits, your skin, weight, exposure to hot water or even tight clothes can also cause ingrown hairs.<br><strong>FIX IT: </strong>Ingrown hairs usually heal on their own. To speed up the process, try warm soaks, medicated creams or for larger boils, surgical drainage.
How the Vagina Cleans Itself
Your lady flower also has the power to clean itself.