Important facts every woman should know about their vagina
We don’t really like to talk about it (in fact I debated whether to put ‘Vagina’ or ‘Down There’ in the title), but being uncomfortable ‘down there’ is not as uncommon or embarrassing as you might think. Women often get vaginal flora imbalances from time to time, and for varying reasons (it’s not always due to sex!). The tricky thing is figuring out what has caused the discomfort or infection, and whether there is a more serious health issue underlying.
We spoke to Integrative Medicine Expert, Dr Cris Beer, (pictured – if she looks familiar, you may have heard of her from The Biggest Loser retreat, and regular Body & Soul articles), to find out five things your vagina is trying to tell you – and why you should be listening!
Your diet is poor
If you’re grazing on a diet high in foods like bread, sugar and MSG, and drinking a little too much and too often, then you’re likely to be fuelling your body with yeast.
“Not only are you spurring the production of yet more yeast, but you’re also being unkind to your body. Cut back on processed foods and sugars and ensure you’re eating a mix of nutritionally-dense foods – including fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, protein and fibre, to give it the best cover against bugs, infection and other nasties,” says Dr Beer.
Stress not only brings tension and unease, but it can release stress hormones called corticosteroids, which can suppress certain cells in the immune system, inhibiting our body’s ability to fight infection.
“To help manage and cope with daily stressors, it’s vital to ensure that you are getting enough sleep – minimum 7 hours each night, are exercising moderately for at least 30 minutes a day, and are being mindful of caffeine consumption (no more than 2 cups of coffee) to help reduce anxiety and tension,” suggests Dr Beer.
You’ve been on a course of antibiotics
“Women can often get thrush after a course of antibiotics, due to the loss of good bacteria from the vagina, so I always recommend supplementing with a good quality probiotic both during and after the antibiotic course, to help keep the good bacteria in-check.
“Opt for a probiotic with clinically-trialled strains and one specifically designed for women’s health, as this will help to treat the specific condition, and also consider fuelling your body with powerful prebiotic foods, such as kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi, and a full-fat yoghurt.”
Speak to your healthcare practitioner if symptoms persist. If taking probiotics, or any medication, always read the label. Use only as directed. Supplements may only be of assistance if dietary intake is inadequate.
For more information on probiotics, visit www.blackmores.com.au
Do you notice that you have more discharge than usual at certain times of the month? It’s probably just a sign that you’re ovulating. Whilst this may not be an issue for most of us over 50-55, it could affect any ovulating women, so it’s worth sharing with your daughters and granddaughters.
“Normal vaginal discharge is a healthy way for your body to get rid of fluid and old cells, and it’s not uncommon to have a little more than usual during ovulation. However if you notice that the discharge starts to change in texture or colour, and has a powerful odour, it’s worth speaking to your health practitioner to check it isn’t something more serious,” recommends Dr Beer.
You need to up your hygiene!
Women are more prone to Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) than men, which refers to a bacterial infection in the bladder, kidneys, ureters, or urethra. Therefore it’s crucial that good hygiene is adhered to, particularly after sexual intercourse.
“Urinating after sex can help to flush out bad bacteria before it has time to travel to your bladder, helping to minimise the risk of an infection,” Dr Beer adds.
So, if you’re 20, 40, 60 or 80, or anywhere in between, these are the facts you need to know, to keep your vagina comfortable, so share away. Lets spread the news. Did you like the article? Did you learn something new? Let us know in the comments section below.
ABOUT DR CRIS BEER
Dr Cris is an integrative medical doctor, author, corporate speaker, and media doctor. As an expert in integrative medicine Dr Cris specialises not just in treatment of illnesses, but in the attaining of optimum health. She has particular interests in preventative health, lifestyle medicine, hormone health, weight loss, fatigue and sleep problems, digestive issues, as well as women’s health.