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vaginal health

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How well do you really know your vagina’s needs? Most women would probably say, emphatically, very well. However, a survey conducted by Intima showed that most of those women would be mistaken. The poll found that a substantial amount of women don’t know where the cervix is, are confused on what exactly menopause is and misidentify different parts of the vagina. So, maybe you aren’t as in touch with your va-jay-jay as you thought. It is one of the most sensitive parts of your body. It’s an opening. It’s damp. For many reasons, it’s quite vulnerable. It’s also a beautiful thing that delivers new life and participates in your orgasms. So, it’s pretty important to treat it correctly.

No woman intentionally abuses her vagina. We can just be busy and misinformed. We pick up habits and misinformation from our mothers, sisters, friends or the Internet, without ever confirming if that’s the healthiest option. We get into routines. Your vagina might be asking for a little attention. Here are ways you might be mistreating your vagina.

vaginal health

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Not changing undies between the gym and life

Life can get busy and gym time isn’t some luxurious two-hour retreat from the day that it once was. You might do an intense 30-minute cardio session and march right back to your vehicle to get on with your day. But even a short workout means that your underwear got damp. And, it got damp inside a pair of workout pants that are usually made of synthetic materials that don’t breathe. That’s a great environment for bacteria to thrive in. Pack a fresh pair of undies and take just a few minutes to freshen up after a workout and change into fresh underwear to prevent bacterial vaginosis or a yeast infection.

vaginal health

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Using harsh soap down there

Your vagina is self-cleaning. It’s a magical thing. You technically don’t need to do anything to wash it and you shouldn’t. Using douches or putting any soap inside of your vagina can throw off the pH balance, ultimately leading to an infection that causes odor – the very thing you were hoping to avoid. If you really want to put some soap on the outer parts of your vagina, use all natural, gentle soaps, use just a little, and don’t scrub hard. Washing the area too much can wash away healthy bacteria around the vagina that also helps to prevent infection. Don’t fall for products that make you believe you should be ashamed of the smell of your vagina. It smells fine.

vaginal health

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Wearing Spanx regularly

While Spanx and similar shapewear can give you an hourglass figure, smooth out bulges, tone and tighten, it really should be reserved for special occasions like your wedding day or that high school reunion when you want to look like the only one who didn’t gain weight in the last 20 years. Shapewear is, by nature, very tight. That’s how it does its job but that also means it doesn’t allow your vagina to breathe. Then add the fact that it’s made with synthetic materials, and what you have is your vagina suffocating in a damp, tight, unventilated garment. It’s a recipe for an infection.

vaginal health

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Not changing undies after sex

Here’s another time to pack a fresh pair of undies: when going over to your lover’s crib or wherever you go to get it in. Leading up to intercourse, you’re probably getting moist down there. And if you keep your underwear on for some of foreplay, you might get a combination of natural moisture and synthetic lubricant down there. Those are not underwear you should slide back on and go out into the world in. Bring a fresh pair of undies to change into after sex. And always, always pee after sex to prevent a UTI.

vaginal health

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Wearing synthetic underwear

Your vagina loves Mother Nature and all things that come from it, like cotton. It doesn’t love things made in laboratories, like synthetic fibers. Keeping in mind that your vagina is an opening to your body, how would you feel if your other openings – like your mouth or your nose – were covered in polyester or rayon all day? Pretty suffocated. When it comes to underwear, stick to cotton. If you don’t like to wear underwear, that’s fine too. In fact, it’s the best way to let your vagina breathe – just be careful about sitting on public surfaces as they contain bacteria.

vaginal health

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Using the wrong tampon absorbency

It is important to pay attention to tampon absorbency and use the correct one for each day of your flow. The Better Health Channel reports that using a high absorbency tampon when it is not needed increases the chances of toxic shock syndrome. It can also just be very painful to remove, because when there isn’t much blood in there, the tampon sticks to your vaginal walls and can cause tiny tears when removed. All in all, tampons are the least friendly feminine hygiene product to your vagina. Why not try the menstrual cup instead? It’s better for the environment and your body.

vaginal health

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Sticking to the same old hair removal routine

Maybe you’ve been doing the same hair removal routine since you can remember. You started shaving at age 17 and never looked back, or you’ve had a standing appointment with your waxing specialist every 12 weeks since you were 20. But just because we’ve always done something doesn’t mean we always should. If your vagina burns, stings, itches, or hurts in any way following a hair maintenance routine, that’s probably not the right one for you. The best hair removal treatment for one woman isn’t the best for the next. Explore your options. And remember there’s nothing wrong with keeping your pubic hair.

vaginal health

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Letting a partner skimp on foreplay

Asking for enough foreplay doesn’t make you demanding. Men certainly have no issue asking for head, do they? Asking for foreplay isn’t just about pleasure (though it would be perfectly fine if it were), but it’s also about your health. Nothing should go inside of a dry vagina. You don’t put a tampon in a dry vagina. Your OBGYN doesn’t go in there without applying lube. And a penis shouldn’t go in there dry. Having sex before you are properly lubricated can lead to tiny tears in the vagina that can increase the chances of infection. Also, it hurts! Which should be reason enough to ask for the foreplay you need.

vaginal health

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Not checking your lube ingredients

If you have a new partner or have several partners, you might not think to ask what’s in the lube. They’re providing it, so you’re not checking it. Or maybe when you’re on the road and can’t access your preferred lubricant, you just buy whatever’s available at the gas station or pharmacy. But, not all lubes are made equally. Many contain parabens, dyes, fragrances, and glycerin, all of which can upset the vagina. Pay attention to how your vagina feels after certain lubes. If you notice itching or irritation, read the ingredients. You may be allergic to them. The best bet is to stick to all natural, water-based lube that doesn’t contain any of the problematic ingredients listed above.

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