Vaginas are great, right? If you know me or read this blog, I mention my vagina a lot. Part of this is because I think they’re great and another reason is because the vagina still desperately needs more airtime. We live in a world that sexualises women from the moment they develop, but refuses to offer basic sex education.
The other day I was showering with my boyfriend; he was lathering up my boobs and was about to continue towards my nether regions. I obviously interjected and asked if he realised soap and vaginas weren’t compatible. My boyfriend is a pretty smart dude, he’s also super sex positive too. So you can imagine my surprise when he stated he didn’t know this. You may be thinking ‘he has a dick, why would he know about vaginas?’. I have a vagina but I know you need to wash your balls so they don’t get smelly. It’s common sense, no?
I explained that soap can seriously mess up the vagina’s pH balance and continued showering. Whilst I moved on from this incident, it was still a thought in the back of my mind. I couldn’t believe that this still wasn’t comment knowledge and I couldn’t figure out why. Until an article titled ‘How to take care of your vagina’ was shared onto my timeline. I skim read and shared it on my blog’s Facebook page. A reader quickly pointed out that the article was lacking information on alternative menstrual products and that it stated to wash with soap. Suddenly, I realised that this is why my boyfriend didn’t know. It’s down to a lack of education and resources out there. Even the resources that appear to be helpful at a first glance feature misinformation.
I have been thinking about the lack of information out there a lot lately and I’ve decided to tackle it head-on. I am by no means a doctor, but I’ve gotten to know my vagina over the years and I know what she likes. I thought I’d share a few things and try adapt on that article.
Let’s clear up the difference between the ‘vagina’ and the ‘vulva’
The vagina is a tube-shaped muscle inside of the body that runs from the cervix to the vaginal opening. The external sex organs that surround the vaginal opening is called the vulva. Simple, right? You’d be surprised at how many people confuse to two (including myself!). I slip up a lot, but I think it’s important to call the parts by their right names.
PSA: Vaginas and soap are not compatible
All of these feminine hygiene products are just marketed bullshit. Your vagina is made up of loads of bacteria, which is there to protect it. You see, your vagina has a delicate pH balance and all the good bacteria down there produces a substance (discharge). It stops bad bacteria sticking to your vaginal walls and invading the tissues.
Feminine hygiene products like FemFresh and the lark completely mess with the balance your vagina is working so hard to maintain. If you mess with your pH balance, this can lead to infection and inflammation. Not fun! These products are created and marketed for the same reason most are, to shame women and profit off of their insecurities. All you really need is clean warm water.
Discharge is healthy
There’s nothing that annoys me more than people being shamed for natural things, especially when it comes to people with vaginas. It’s perfectly normal to produce vaginal discharge, in fact it’s a sign of a healthy vagina! You know how saliva cleanses your mouth and is totally natural? Think of discharge as saliva for your vagina. The only difference here is that discharge can vary in consistency and colour throughout your cycle.
Healthy discharge can be clear, cloudy white, and/or yellowish when dry on clothing. It can also be thin, thick and stringy. Changes in normal discharge occur for a number of different reasons, including menstrual cycle, emotional stressors, nutritional status, pregnancy, sexual arousal and even usage of medications.
Some changes in discharge require a visit to the doctors such as: discharge accompanied by itching, rashes and soreness, burning on skin during urination, discharge that is clumpy and resembles cottage cheese, or any discharge that has an off odor. If you experience any of this, you may have a vaginal infection.
You should urinate after sex, but only if you need to
The anus and the vagina are pretty close, which means fecal bacteria is nearby. When you’re penetrated, it allows some of this bacteria to get close to the urethra. Peeing after sex can help prevent the spread of bacteria to the bladder. You should never force it though, take it from somebody who has had plenty of UTI’s.
You don’t have a ‘bucket vagina’, you’re just aroused
When your vagina needs to open (whether it’s for a penis, a toy, or for a menstrual product), the lips separate and widen. It normally ‘swells’ from half an inch to two inches. People’s vaginas can also vary in size when they’re aroused too, but it always returns to its usual tightness after. Chances are if you’re about to have sex and it’s feeling tight down there, you’re probably not as aroused as you think you are. You should never force penetration and should always lube up if you need to.
Birth control can alter your vagina’s state
I was on a pill that gave me a UTI every time I had sex. It didn’t matter how often or little we did it, how clean I was after, it would happen. I’ve also been on pills that have dried me out completely and killed my sex drive too. Everyone has different experiences but if you notice a change down there, it’s worth trying a different form of birth control.
Drinking cranberry juice regularly is the best thing you can do for your reproductive system
Loaded with things that fight off bad bacteria, cranberry juice can help prevent urinary tract infections. That’s why so many doctors recommend drinking some when you already have one. I was once given the wrong medication for a UTI and it developed into a full-blown kidney infection. My bladder hasn’t been the same since, which is why I make a point of peeing as soon as I need to and drinking a small glass of cranberry a day. I haven’t had a UTI for years now, touch wood!
At the end of the day, you need to do what feels right for your vagina
I know the article delves into topics such as menstruation and hair removal, but I didn’t want this piece to be bias. A lot of you know where I stand on such things. If you don’t, I rock a full-on bush and use a menstrual cup. I think you just need to do what feels right for your vagina.
I hope this has been some help to you, let me know if I missed anything.