Are you concerned about your vulva’s health? What are the most important facts you need to be aware of? Some women often shy off from mentioning the name vulva or vagina. Most of them prefer using pseudowords such as “vajayjay” “Foo Foo” “Lady bits” “Cookie” “Mini Moo” “Bat Cave” “Twinkle” and “Nonny” to name a few
Either way, the vagina, which is part of your vulva, is a crucial organ for human reproduction and serves a significant role in sexual satisfaction.
There is so much more about the vagina than you may not know, which sometimes may appear to be a mystery. Well, here are some ten fascinating health facts you need to know about your vulva’s health.
1. Vaginal Health
Women take care of their overall health and easily forget vaginal health, yet it dramatically impacts their general wellbeing.
Vaginal problems can affect aspects like the desire for sex, fertility, and the ability to reach orgasm. Ongoing vaginal health issues can also impact a woman’s self-confidence and cause stress or relationship problems.
Knowing the signs and symptoms of vaginal problems and what you can do to protect your vaginal health is vital.
2. Your vulva is not your vagina
One fact we need to get clear. Most people talk about the vagina as referring to a woman’s collective private parts, which is not the case. The vagina is a part of the internal female reproductive tract, a 3–6-inch tube connecting the cervix at the top of the vagina.
Simultaneously, the vulva is all the external female genital parts: the opening to the vagina, the clitoris, mons pubis and anus, the labia (Majora and minora), and the urethra.
You need to know the difference because it is helpful and empowering to understand your body’s anatomy.
3. Vaginas are supposed to have a scent
You might be wondering what that smell is. The vagina contains bacteria: lactobacilli, a strain that produces lactic acid, which keeps terrible microorganisms in check, so you don’t get an infection. It also keeps your vaginal pH balanced and healthy.
Like all bacteria, they do have a smell. The smell tends to be acidic before your period and strong afterwards. It might be more noticeable during sex, thanks to the natural lubrication you produce and post-workout, because of sweat glands. Having a slight scent is normal, but when the odour follows an unusual discharge or becomes strong and unpleasant, it’s time to visit the gynaecologist.
4. Your diet affects the vagina’s scent
There is some evidence that your eating plays a role in affecting the scent of your vagina. For example, eating pineapple gives your vagina a sweeter scent. Other foods said to do away with vaginal odour include chillies, cheese, fish, garlic, and onion.
However, if you realize the smell of your vagina is strong or has changed abnormally, it could be a sign of infection, and it needs a check-up.
5. You don’t need to clean it
The vagina is self-cleaning. Let it do its thing.
The army of specialized bacteria mentioned earlier exists to do away with unnecessary hostile bacteria.
The vagina cleans itself through the release of discharge. Which usually is clear or whitish or thick or thin. The discharge flushes out excess water, bacteria cells from the vaginal wall, and bacteria.
Cleaning techniques like douching are dangerous because they kill this natural balance, leading to bacterial vaginosis and infection problems. You only need a simple swipe of water and mild, scent-free soap between the labial folds when taking a shower.
6. Discharge changes throughout your cycle.
Sometimes you wonder what the colour change is. Your vagina produces on average two teaspoons of thin, clear discharge a day during ovulation. Right before your menstrual periods, it’s thicker and creamier. The change during ovulation creates a suitable environment for the sperm to travel up to the egg,” If it ever burns, itches, smells foul, or looks like cottage cheese, see your gyno.
7. Your vulva can change after pregnancy.
Childbirth permanently stretches out the vagina. Immediately after vaginal birth, your vulva and vagina are likely to feel more open than usual, feel bruised and swollen. But no need to worry. The openness and swollenness reduce in a few days.
You may also experience dryness after giving birth, and especially when breastfeeding because the postpartum body makes less estrogen, which is responsible for vaginal lubrication. It happens mostly during breastfeeding.
Pregnancy hormones can change the shape and size of the vulva. “The labia can become swollen and darken.
A vaginal delivery will stretch the labia minora, the more minor inner folds that lie inside the labia majora. The changes occur after childbirth, but sometimes minor changes might persist.
8.You can’t lose a tampon in there, it’s not a hole.
Your vagina is not a blank hole. You may have heard stories that scared you, but you’ll know it is impossible to lose a tampon in your vagina; the opening at our vagina is too small for a tampon to pass through.
At the other end of your vagina is the cervix, the bottom portion of your uterus. During childbirth, your cervix opens up as the baby comes through. But usually, the cervix stays closed, so you can’t get anything stuck or lost in there.
However, forgetting a tampon for days or weeks might lead to a rotten, dead organism-like smell. It is possible to have a tampon stuck. In such a case, you should see a doctor call it removed. Leaving it in there for too long can increase the risk of toxic shock syndrome.
9. Your vagina doesn’t ‘fart.’
You might have experienced it at one point, an uncontrollable, embarrassing emission of air from the vagina, which is commonly known as “queefing.”
Yes, it sounds more like farting, but that is not because they do not emit an unpleasant odour nor waste gases.
It is the vagina releasing that trapped air.
In some rare cases, vaginal flatulence may result from a vaginal fistula, an abnormal opening from the vagina to the bladder, rectum, or colon.
10. Lots of sex won’t stretch it out.
The vagina walls are compressed against each other. But the sides can widen and separate, like the way an umbrella opens. The vagina typically stretches to two inches wide during sex, and it can get even more prominent during childbirth.
It explains that the vagina is elastic, and so it retrieves to its usual tightness after sex.
Even so, too much sex can hurt your vagina. Too much sex in a short period may leave you with a urinary tract infection or heated up, but drinking and peeing after sex and drinking extra fluids can keep the urinary tract infection away.
11. You can strengthen it like any other muscle.
The pelvic floor muscles hold your vagina, rectum, uterus, and urethra in place. Activities like childbirth can weaken your pelvic power, and it can lead to problems holding your pee.
However, working out can strengthen the muscles surrounding your vaginal openings and urethra. It does not mean working out in the sexual sense, but pelvic floor exercises, commonly known as kegel exercises. They involve; clamping down as if you’re stopping the urine flow, holding for three seconds, and then relaxing for three seconds. Do it ten times repeatedly a day, working your way up to 10-second holds.
They help manage urinary incontinence, but research has it that they can also help improve sexual satisfaction.
12. You can get vaginal wetness without being sexually aroused.
Most people believe that wetness is always a sign of sexual arousal, but this is not it. The other reasons can be;
- The vulva has a high concentration of sweat glands.
- Hormones cause the excretion of cervical mucus to be daily.
- vaginas can automatically produce lubrication when they’re touched, regardless of arousal. (A phenomenon called arousal non-concordance, which’s more common in women.)
For these reasons, vaginal wetness should not be considered a signal of consent for intercourse. Consent has to be verbal.
13. Tight underwear isn’t healthy for your vulva.
As sexy as that tiny lace thong may look, a comfy pair of panties will be the best bet for minimal burning, irritation, and providing coverage. Doctors recommend underwear with a cotton lining or crotch to allow the area to breathe.
14. Shaving may not be the best option.
To shave or not to shave? There is no better answer. When it comes to handling pubic hair, it depends on preference. Shaving works well, but it can cause razor burn, cuts, itching, and occasional infections afterwards.
While other options may be less harmful, they come with their risks. Hair-removal creams can work if used correctly. Suppose these areas are meant and not left on too long. Waxing, which removes hair at the root, can be painful, but it reduces frequent shaving.
And, of course, leaving your pubic hair as they are is equally acceptable. After all, it is the body’s natural defence for unwanted pathogens and keeping bacteria away from your vagina.
15.The clitoris has thousands of nerves.
Research has shown that the clitoris can increase in size by up to 300 % during sexual arousal. It is the part of the female genitals considered the most sensitive part of a woman’s erogenous zone because the tip of the clitoris has a whole 8,000 nerve endings, more than double the number of nerve endings in the penis.
The two major causes of vaginal pain.
Most women report vaginal pain more often, especially during intercourse, yet they do not know an apparent cause of this. They include vaginismus, which leads to involuntary contraction of the vaginal muscles. It can make it difficult or impossible to undergo a gyno exam, have sex, or use a tampon. It can be treated via counselling or physical therapy.
The other, characterized by stinging, vulva pain, intense sensitivity that direct touch is hard to bear, is vulvodynia. Its symptoms are itching, stinging and burning feelings. It can go for around three months and the cause is not clear.
Vaginal health is critical since it has an impact on the overall health of women. Women need to be aware of these facts concerning this vital organ to take good care of it and visit the gynaecologists more often for a check-up. Take action and be responsible for your vaginal health.