Tips For a Healthy Vagina

>> Thursday, November 14, 2013

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When our vagina is healthy, we feel healthy. But when we notice abnormal discharge or odor or abnormal periods, we worry about our overall health. That's because vaginal problems can affect our fertility, desire for sex and ability to reach orgasm. Ongoing vaginal health issues can also affect other areas of our life, causing stress or relationship problems.

First it is good to know some details about our bodies. For example, the vagina is a closed muscular canal that extends from the vulva (the area where the hair grows on top) and goes to the area of the uterus called the cervix. Certain things can affect your vagina - some we can change and some we can't.

Taking care to use condoms during sex to protect against infections is one thing we can control. Also, be aware that aggressive or forceful sex can cause pelvic fracture or other injury to the pelvic area as well as vaginal trauma.

Certain health conditions like diabetes and Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disorder, can cause vaginal dryness. Certain antihistamines can cause also cause vaginal dryness. Prolonged use of antibiotics increases the risk of a vaginal yeast infection. Superabsorbent tampons can lead to toxic shock syndrome which is a rare, life-threatening complication of a bacterial infection.

Intra-vaginal birth control products like Spermicides, diaphragms or contraceptive sponges may also cause irritation and painful sex.

Anxiety and depression can contribute to a low level of arousal and resulting discomfort or pain during sex. Trauma, such as sexual abuse or an initial painful sexual experience can also can lead to pain associated with sex from scar tissue and anticipated pain.

Changes in your hormone levels can also affect your vagina. For example, estrogen production decreases after menopause, after childbirth and during breast-feeding. Loss of estrogen can cause the vaginal lining to thin (vaginal atrophy) and this can make sex painful.

But, honestly, there are many other common conditions that can affect your vagina. These might include persistent or recurrent genital pain just before, during or after sex (dyspareunia). Pain during penetration might be caused by involuntary spasms of the muscles of the vaginal wall (vaginismus). And, sexually transmitted infections, including genital warts, syphilis and genital herpes, can affect the vagina, causing abnormal vaginal discharge or genital sores.

Also, a bacterial or yeast infection can cause inflammation of the vagina, called vaginitis. Symptoms usually include vaginal discharge, odor, itching and pain.

Women at any age can also suffer from prolapse of the uterus, bladder, and rectum, which can put pressure on the vagina. This happens when the supporting ligaments and connective tissues that hold the uterus in place become weak and can cause the vagina to be pulled down as well.

The vagina can also form cysts and abscesses, which will cause pain during sex or make it difficult to insert a tampon.

Vaginal cancer is very rare, but unexplained bleeding or pain should always be checked out by a doctor. Look for changes in the color, odor or amount of vaginal discharge and vaginal redness, itching or irritation, bleeding between periods, after sex or after menopause, a mass or bulge in your vagina, or a sensation of pressure or heaviness in your vagina

You can take steps to protect your vaginal health by being sexually responsible. Use condoms or maintain a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who's free of sexually transmitted infections. You may want to consider being vaccinated to protect yourself from human papillomavirus (HPV) as well as hepatitis A and hepatitis B. Practice good hygiene by not douching, using perfumed soaps, feminine sprays or scented tampons. Change tampons frequently (do not leave them in for longer than 5-6 hours). If you use sex toys, clean them after every use.

Using WaterWorks is a wonderful way to maintain vaginal hygiene naturally, without disturbing your natural vaginal flora. Check out the Website to see how it works!!

Kegel exercises can help tone your pelvic floor muscles. Simply tighten your pelvic muscles as if you're stopping your stream of urine. Once you've got the hang of it, do at least three sets of 10 a day.

Limit the amount of alcohol you drink and don't smoke or use drugs. Smoking increases the risk of bladder cancer and alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer. Alcohol and illegal drugs can cause sexual dysfunction. Nicotine can inhibit sexual arousal and if you're under the influence, you're more likely to take sexual risks.

Just remember to see your doctor if you are having unexplained vaginal pain. It may be something simple, but you want to know so it can be taken care of.

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