For some reason women are ashamed to talk about their feminine areas when they are unwell. I wanted to write this because I am hearing from my female clients regularly they are given terrible health advice (or lack of) on what to do when there are infections or how to prevent them.
First and foremost Men if you’re reading this and you are getting squeamish, please go and be immature somewhere else. The last thing your lady needs if for you to be “disgusted” by her being unwell. What if the role was reversed I am sure she would be running to the health food shop or chemist to get anything to help you right?
Two main types of infections
Ok so lets break it down, the two most common infections of our vaginas is a yeast infection called thrush or a bacterial infection called Bacterial Vaginosis. Both of which are more common that what you think and I am sure this is because us ladies do not like to share if we are experiencing this. We may tell our GP, Naturopath or best friend and that’s it. Some ladies have confessed they are too embarrassed to tell their partners so lie about having their period so they don’t have to have sex with them.
What’s The Difference?
The major difference between these two conditions is if there is a fishy odour down there, you have the bacterial infection called Bacterial Vaginosis (BV). If you are itching and burning around the vulva and have a white cottage discharge then you will have thrush.
Discharge Is Normal.
Discharge can range from white and thick to clear and sticky at different times in the month due to hormonal fluctuations. Generally when the discharge becomes sticky it is a sign of ovulation as it helps accommodate the sperm to travel to your uterus. As a rule of thumb the discharge should never be yellow or green, if you see this then you are most likely suffering from an infection. In Thrush your discharge may have a yeast smell to it, similar to beer. You may also see a discharge in BV however it is more grey in colour and has a paste like texture.
Why Does This Happen?
Bacterial Vaginosis occurs when there is an imbalance in the pH of your vagina. In a healthy vagina, the pH is acidic usually around 3.5 to 4.5 and there is an array of beneficial bacteria present to help fight of infection. When this imbalance occurs, the bad bacteria are given the opportunity to flourish and have a party. Thrush occurs when there is an overgrowth of yeast. Normally the yeast is kept at a minimal. However when your good bacteria is reduced say through antiobiotic treatment, the yeast are able to grow and colonise.
Things That Can Raise pH.
- Feminine hygiene washes can have a pH of 5.5 or higher so it is better to not use these regularly.
- During our periods our pH is raised as blood has a pH of 7.4.
- Semen has a pH range of 7.1 to 8 so even if you are on the pill, it is a good idea to use condoms if you are susceptible to infections.
So what can you do on a daily basis to keep your vagina happy?
Don’t Live in Your Active Wear.
Yes I know it can be tempting to want to show off your new Lulu Lemon tights at the shops straight after your gym session. Well it isn’t the best idea as the material does not breathe easily and holds sweat close to the skin. Your new favourite tights may look amazing but they are also very clever at encouraging growth of pathogens by encouraging a warm and moist environment! Keep your active wear on for short periods of time and let your girl breathe!
Yeast and Bacteria love sugar which is why you will have uncontrollable sugar cravings if you are suffering with BV or Thrush. But avoid at all costs! Indulging in sugar only exacerbates your infection and uncomfortable symptoms as well as lower your immune function. So give the dessert a miss!
Increase Good Bacteria.
Everything stems from the health of your gut. You will be more susceptible to BV and Thrush if you are not eating the right foods to encourage a larger population of beneficial bacteria. Supplementing with a good quality probiotic is a great way to ensure you are increasing your good bacteria. Make sure your capsule or powder contains the strain Lactobacillus Acidophilus, as this is the specific strain which will help fight the overgrowth of yeast and bad bacteria while boosting your immune system.
Pee After Sex.
Urine helps flush or clear bad bacteria. This is important to prevent another type of infection in the urinary tract. This is due to urine being acidic and it is able to flush out any bad bacteria left over from intercourse. The female urethra is short and is at a close proximity to the anus. It is common for bad bacteria to make their way into our urethra during the act so even if you don’t feel like you need to go, as soon as you have finished go to the toilet!
If you suffer from Thrush or BV regularly please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to prevent these uncomfortable infections for good!