Have you ever asked yourself, “How much do I really know about my vagina?” Well, I chatted to a few women’s health experts and they reckon most of us don’t know as much as we should. We’ve talked before about some pretty amazing facts about the female reproductive organ, but what about our vaginal health? Well, if knowledge is power then consider yourself sorted! Here are four ways us gals are neglecting our vaginas, and how you can improve the health of your lady garden…
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#1 Not having regular pap smears
Let’s face it, pap smears are super uncomfortable and certainly not anyone’s favourite part of womanhood. However, not having regular pap smears is one way that women are seriously neglecting their vaginal health, says gynaecologist Dr Peta Wright. Peta believes most women “just aren’t informed about their bodies, let alone tuned into them”, and that women should be in control of their health at every stage of their lives. This means, booking your paps when they’re due and understanding the results!
# 2 Unsafe sex
According to Dannielle Louise, naturopath and women’s health specialist, “Protected sex needs to be taken more seriously.” She warns that being on the pill does not protect against STIs and using a condom needs to be a permanent practice unless you’re in a monogamous relationship (and both partners have been tested!). Peta agrees, telling me that women should not feel fearful or ashamed to ask their partner to use a condom, as “not using barrier protection is putting yourself at risk for STIs!”
#3 Lack of education
Surprisingly, Peta tells me she sees so many women in her practice that are lacking in knowledge about their bodies. “I am constantly amazed that as humans and women we have these incredibly intricate bodies for our whole lives, but many women are unaware of how they work,” she says.
Allison Macbeth, founder and director of Blue Poppy Health, as well as Fertility Awareness and Sexual Health Educator has a similar view, explaining that the top way women are neglecting their vaginal health is by not paying attention to it, particularly our menstrual cycles. “We can learn a lot about our overall health by paying attention to the menstrual cycle, and when something is wrong with our bodies, one of the first places to show symptoms is the menstrual cycle. If women were more aware of this and paid more attention to their bodies, not only would they have a better understanding of their health, but they would feel more empowered to make decisions about sex and health care,” she says.
It might surprise some of you to discover that the vagina is self-cleansing. Rather than using harsh cleansers, you’re better off using mild washes that have been gynaecologist tested, like Vagisil Fresh Plus Intimate Wash. Dannielle explains that harsh chemicals and cleansers “can often alter the delicate pH of the area, increasing the risk of infection and opportunistic microbes such as thrush and candida.”
Did you know these facts about your vagina? What did you find most interesting?