How much do you know about your vagina?
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Yes, you might have a nickname for it, and you know how much pleasure or pain it gives you.
Are you really clued up about the goings-on of your lady bits?
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So to get all crucial vagina facts we spoke to two gynaecologists who gave us the lowdown.
Dr Vanessa Mackay from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
Claudine Domoney, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist and chair of the Institute of Psychosexual Medicine.
1. You don’t actually need to clean your vagina.
“It’s important to remember that the vagina is designed to clean itself with natural secretions. It contains good bacteria, which are there to protect it. If these bacteria are disturbed it can lead to infection, such as bacterial vaginosis or thrush, and inflammation.” – Dr Vanessa Mackay
2. Healthy discharge doesn’t have a strong smell or colour.
“It’s normal and healthy to produce a clear or white discharge from your vagina, although you can get brown discharge at the end of your period. Healthy discharge doesn’t have a strong smell or colour. You may feel an uncomfortable wetness, but you shouldn’t have any itching or soreness around your vagina.
“The amount of vaginal discharge can vary throughout your menstrual cycle, but any sudden change to your discharge might be signs of a vaginal infection. Here are a few obvious warning signs:
– A change in colour or consistency.
– A sudden bad smell.
– An unusually large amount of discharge.
– Itching outside your vagina or pain in your pelvis or tummy.
– Unexpected bleeding from the vagina.” – VM
3. You can and should exercise your vagina.
“Childbirth, gravity, menopause, smoking, and obesity can all wreak havoc on the vagina and over time can weaken the muscles of the pelvic floor. But like other muscles in your body, your pelvic floor and vaginal muscles can be strengthened with exercise.” – VM
So basically do your Kegel exercises, here’s a guide on how it’s done.
4. Caring for a neo-vagina can be a little complicated.
A neo-vagina is a vagina created in transitional surgery. It’s made using the skin from the penis and people with neo-vaginas need individual advice when it comes to care.
“The microflora (bacteria) of the penile-skin (foreskin) lined neo-vagina is very complex and clinical significance remains to be determined. It is therefore very difficult to give any proper advice at present with regard to optimal vaginal hygiene in transsexual women, and I recommend discussing care on a case-by-case basis with the patient’s doctor.” – VM
“A new vagina may be a little more prone to infection. The use of special douches, including salt water, may be helpful.” – Claudine Domoney
5. Neo-vaginas need to be dilated regularly.
“It is important to dilate post-surgery to assist the surrounding tissues and muscles to remain in their new positions, and to prevent narrowing. Adequate dilation must be maintained during the healing process for at least 30 to 45 minutes, at least six times per day.” – VM
“Vaginal dilators are plastic phallic-shaped tubes that help the vagina stretch or prevent the tissues closing up. This process needs to be performed regularly. Penetrative sex will also be helpful once the vagina has reached adequate capacity.” – CD
6. Thrush is common. Like, really common.
“Thrush is very common and at least 3 out of 4 women will experience thrush at some point in their lives. Thrush is a yeast infection caused by an increase in the growth of candida albicans, a common fungus. Often it is triggered by taking antibiotics that kill the friendly bacteria which naturally suppress candida. It usually affects women but men can also be affected and it may be passed from one to another by sexual contact.” – VM
7. Good vaginal care can limit your chances of getting a yeast infection.
Although it’s common, nobody really wants thrush, so they are a number of simple things you can do to help prevent it. Here’s what Dr Vanessa Mackay recommends:
– Drink lots of water.
– Do not rinse or clean inside the vagina.
– Avoid vaginal deodorants, bubble baths, or perfumed soaps and shower gels.
– Try not to wear nylon underwear, tights, or tight-fitting trousers.
– Change to a nonbiological washing powder.
– Take care with genital hygiene and wipe from front to back.
– Avoid intercourse until all symptoms have disappeared as this will encourage the lining of the vagina to heal.
8. Have a wee after sex to avoid UTIs.
“Emptying your bladder after having sex is one way to avoid urinary tract infections. You should also:
– Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and help clear bacteria from the urinary tract.
– Go to the toilet as soon as you feel the need to urinate, rather than holding it in.
– Wipe from front to back after going to the toilet.
– Try using condoms that don’t have a spermicidal lubricant on them, if you get recurring UTIs.” – VM
9. There is no such thing as a pretty or ugly vagina.
“Every one’s vagina is different – different colour, different size, and different shape. Labias are as individual as women themselves and vary in appearance and colour. During orgasm the labia will become engorged with blood which will make them appear larger and darker, but this is not long-lasting.” – VM