Female genital health and hygiene: What females should know
Many females portrays nonchalant attitudes concerning their genital health and hygiene, but such act is highly detrimental. The vagina is a complex environment of healthy bacteria, temperature, and moisture. Sometimes when one of these factors changes, the body’s natural balance can be disturbed and an infection can occur. This can be related to sexual activity, but there are lots of other reasons too. Routine hygiene is really important in preventing these infections, but remember, do not over-wash your vulva because this can throw your body chemistry off too!
Some people are naturally more prone (likely) to getting these infections than other people. Bacterial infections are common and generally easy to treat, but when left untreated they can lead to more serious conditions, especially if you are pregnant. So as a lady, it is proper to know your body and take good care of it!
As a woman, you should always remember that unusual discharge, itchiness, burning, soreness, and unusual foul odour of the vagina may result from a number of conditions,
including gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, BV (Bacteria vaginosis), yeast infections,
UTIs (Urinary tract infactions) and other infections, so it is important to get checked by a health care provider to make sure you get the right treatment.
Now, let us look at some common infections that affects the female genitals.
Common infections of the female genitals
1. Yeast infection
Yeast Infections are caused by an overgrowth of a fungus called candida that naturally lives in the body. Symptoms include itchiness and irritation of the vulva (outer vagina), and an odourless, lumpy white discharge. Not all women will have the same exact symptoms, so when in doubt: ask your healthcare provider.
It is healthy to wear “breathable” underwear (100% cotton!) and to use mild soap (avoid perfumes and dyes, as they can irritate the vagina) to wash the outside of the vagina. It is not necessary to wash the inside, in fact douching* can increase risk of infection. Antibiotics may also create imbalance in a woman’s flora (her body’s unique balance of healthy bacteria). Pregnant women are especially prone to getting yeast infections. You can treat yeast infections with an over-the-counter cream or prescription pills. However, it is always a good idea to check with your health care provider first. If you are sexually active, do not engage in sexual activity until the infection is totally cured, or your partner may contract it and re-infect you. Yeast infections are very common and are not usually sexually transmitted.
2. Urinary tract infection (UTI)
Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) are a common condition caused by bacteria in the urethra (where urine exits the body), and are characterized by a frequent urge to urinate (pee) and a painful burning during urination. Some women are more likely to get UTIs than others, and 1 out of 5 women are affected. It is healthy to urinate before an after sexual intercourse, as the flow of urine can help clear away bacteria that may have collected in the urethra. After using the restroom, you can wipe yourself from front to back (wiping away from the urethra) to avoid bringing bacteria from the anus toward the urethra. UTIs can be cured with antibiotics. Drinking water also helps. Recurrence is common. An untreated UTI may develop into a more severe condition if it spreads to the bladder and kidneys, so get treatment!
Also read: Important diet for your kidney health
3. Bacterial vaginosis
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria that naturally live in the vagina. While most women show no symptoms at all, BV can produce a fishy-smelling grey discharge. The risk of developing BV increases with: douching, cigarette smoking, or multiple partners (although a woman can develop BV without any sexual contact). BV is cured with antibiotics, in pill or gel form. Yogurt and probiotics also help. Recurrent symptoms are common. If you are sexually active, do not engage in sexual activity until the infection is totally cured and you’ve completed your prescription.
Douching - What females should be cautious of
A douche is any liquid a woman flushes into the vagina in order to “clean” the inside. In fact, it is not healthy to douche because it throws off the delicate balance of healthy bacteria in the vagina and can push harmful bacteria further into a woman’s body. Also, a douche can dry out and irritate the sensitive vaginal walls, which increases risk of abrasions (cuts and scratches) and infection. Also, anal douching is not recommended for women or men. The vagina cleans and lubricates itself daily by secreting a small amount of fluid called discharge. This keeps it healthy and clean. Discharge is clear or whitish and has a light scent. If your discharge is a very different color or smell from how it normally is, this may indicate an infection, when in doubt, it is advisable to ask a doctor.
You should stick to this routine
- WEAR cotton underwear and dry clothes that aren’t too tight and never share underwear or bathing suits with other people
- CHANGE out of wet bathing suit or work out clothing as soon as possible
- WASH outside the vagina using mild soap only
- DO NOT use a douche
- AVOID sanitary sprays, suppositories, scented or coloured pads or tampons, and bubble bath or toilet paper that contains perfume
- EAT a balanced diet and avoid excess sugars for optimal health and vaginal comfort
- ABSTAIN from sexual activity until your infection is completely cured to avoid re-infecting yourself.
Although it is always a good idea to talk to your parents about your sexual health needs, it is not possible for every family. You do NOT need your parent or guardian’s permission to go to a public health or family planning clinic. As a female, your genital health should be of great concern to you, so make sure it is in the right state.
Female genital health and hygiene: What females should know Reviewed by Chibuzor Aguwa on 7/08/2016 06:36:00 am Rating: