The vagina is a sensitive organ and often prone to infection. According to the Mayo Clinic vaginal yeast infection (also called vaginal candidiasis) “affects up to 3 out of 4 women at some point in their lifetimes”.
There are many things that can cause an infection in the vagina, and it’s important to be aware of the risk-factors. For your own health, here are ten things you should never do to your vagina.
Douching is a method whereby women wash the vagina out with a liquid solution, usually a mixture of water and vinegar. For centuries there has been a debate on the possible benefits and adverse effects of this practice, but research from the University of Alabama shows the “risk of ascending infection from the pressure of douching may be greatest around the time of ovulation when the cervical os is gaping and the mucus is thin”. Furthermore, douching may decrease vaginal bacteria, but cause a rapid proliferation of potential pathogens, increasing the risk of associated infections.
2. Vaginal steaming
Vaginal steaming refers to a new trend where women remove their underwear and sit on special chairs that have herbal-infused steam coming out of them, aimed at the vagina. According to the Huffington Post, this process can disrupt the natural bacteria of the organ, making it more prone to infection.
3. Get a piercing
For some women it might be part of a sexual fantasy to get a piercing in their vagina, but it can cause unnecessary complications. Doctors from St Mary’s hospital in the UK alert to the fact that the vagina is a sensitive area, and besides the possibility of pain and nerve damage, piercings open up the body to possible infections.
4. Push foreign objects your vagina
Any foreign object has the potential to cause an infection, research from the University of Michigan has shown. The most common symptoms of an infection caused by a foreign object include a change in vaginal discharge and an unpleasant smell. If you have lost an object up there, it is important to immediately consult a doctor.
5. Use scented soaps or perfumes
The vagina can sometimes have a slight odour, but for the most part its natural scent should be neutral. Infections can cause a bad smell, but using scented soaps or perfumes is a bad idea. Research from Johns Hopkins University shows the vagina is a delicate organ with a specific pH balance. Any scents or flavours can throw off this balance, making it prone to infection.
6. Wearing too tight underwear
Underwear should fit you comfortably and should not be too tight. Underwear that is too tight can cause friction and irritation, and heat and moisture can build up in the vaginal area. Bacteria love this environment and cause infection.
7. Use weird substances as lube
It’s quite normal to need some lubrication during sexual encounters, but you should never use anything other than standard lube. Other substances can cause infection, and even oil-based lubricants are thicker, and thus more difficult to remove from the vaginal canal.