The big thing on your mind during the Coronavirus quarantine is probably your health. Although you can’t really repair your tooth if you have a toothache during the lockdown, but you can definitely care for the rest of your body, like your vagina.
Sexual health should be at the top of your “care for” list, and a healthy vagina could save you from many unnecessary visits to the gynecologist when this is all over. So, let’s see what a vaginal microbiome is and how to care for it during the lockdown.
What Is Vaginal Microbiome?
When you hear the word microbiome, the first thing that comes to mind is your gut. But the microbiome is actually the genetic material in every bacterial and viral, fungal, and yeast system in and around your body.
The vaginal microbiome exists, too. It is the collection of all microorganisms found in your vagina. It acts as a self-sustained ecosystem, and when it’s healthy, it keeps a woman healthy, as well.
The bacteria that have a vital role in the vaginal microbiome is Lactobacillus species, which maintains vaginal health. It is slightly acidic to help regulate the spread of harmful bacteria, yeast, and viruses. Moreover, it is responsible for stimulating the production of the mucus, and it is close-knit to your body’s immune system.
Like any other ecosystem, the life of the vaginal microbiome can be disrupted by various factors. Hormonal contraceptives, stress, period, semen, or even having sex can alter the composition of this system. Also, when you take antibiotics, they kill most of the microbes in your microbiome, including those from the Lactobacillus species, which can lead to overgrowth of yeast and disturbance of your immune system. It can furthermore put you at risk of contracting various STIs or even endanger your fertility.
So, it’s crucial to keep the vaginal microbiome balanced to avoid having health issues that go beyond your vagina.
Caring for Vaginal Microbiome in Lockdown
We covered a topic of self-care in times of self-isolation. Here we focused on explaining how you and your partner can stay healthy. But talking about vagina health is a whole other topic. It is such a complex and distinct system that there are rules to go by if you want to care for it during quarantine.
1. Avoid soaps and shower gels to wash down there
The skin’s natural pH level is around 5.5. Most shower gels and soaps have the same level. The vagina, on the other hand, has a pH of between 3.8 and 4.5. So, when you use soap, it causes the flora in your vagina to become less acidic and can lead to the production of harmful microbes. This can lead to itching, redness, irritation, itching, and infections. To avoid it, make sure you’re using only the products intended for intimate care like pH balanced body wipes for sensitive skin.
2. Wash the outside only
The vagina can clean itself, so there’s no need to wash it from the inside. This type of washing is called douching, and you don’t need to do it. You only need to clean the intimate area from the outside, which includes only the area around the clitoris and the labia.
3. Wash the intimate parts at least once a day
The vaginal microbiome can be affected if you’re not washing your down under regularly. Make sure to wash it at least once a day with warm water and more when on your period. Also, wash it before and after having sex to get rid of microorganisms that can enter your vagina and disrupt the microbiome.
4. Use softer towels and pH-balanced products
The intimate zone shouldn’t stay wet after you’re done with washing. Dab a soft, dry towel on it after you wash. You should wash and change this towel every two days and never share it with the members of your household. Moreover, make sure you always use pH-balanced lubricant when having sex not to disrupt your bacteria.
5. Wipe yourself front to back
When using a restroom, make sure you use the toilet paper from front to back or from the vagina to the anus. It can save you from spreading the bacteria in your gut to the vaginal microbiome, which can cause an infection.
6. Wear cotton lingerie
You may want to wear sexy lace or satin panties when you’re intimate with your partner. However, synthetic materials increase humidity around the vulva and prevent air circulation, creating the ideal conditions for the growth of harmful bacteria, unlike cotton underwear, which allows the skin to breathe. Wear comfortable cotton underwear every day and save sexy lace lingerie for special occasions only.
7. Change sanitary pads, tampons, and menstrual cups regularly
Menstrual blood can be a breeding ground for bacteria when it stays on a menstrual pad or a tampon for too long. So, you should change both the pads and tampons every few hours, depending on your flow. Also, if you’re using menstrual cups, they can be worn for longer. However, make sure to change those when needed, as well.
8. Nutrition is crucial
Probiotics supply the body with good bacteria. They help the vagina defend against numerous fungal infections. Except for fermented dairy products, you can find them in fermented foods like pickled vegetables, kefir, or cranberry juice. But you can also take probiotic supplements and avoid ultra-processed foods if you suffer from yeast overgrowth.
9. Strengthen the pelvic muscles
You need to exercise to keep the vaginal muscles healthy. Except for going up and down the stairs and making pelvic floor exercises, Kegels are the best way to keep them fit. They strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which is essential in preventing pain during intercourse and possible incontinence in old age.
10. Condoms maintain the pH of the vagina
Last, condoms will help maintain a healthy vagina. The pH level of the vagina is acidic, but the pH level of the semen is alkaline, and all this can put the vaginal pH out of balance and lead to infection.
How Do You Care for Your Vaginal Microbiome?
Is the lockdown making you more aware of your sexual health? What do you do to care for it? Let us know in the comments below!