Rejoice for our lady parts! Our vaginas are beautiful, amazing, magical, life-giving hubs of our body that deserve attention and care. For centuries, women of all cultures have paid attention to this sensitive and feminine area through a range of rituals, celebrations, practices and health-supporting remedies.
This center of the reproductive system of the body is linked and integrated into our entire body health, especially the hormonal regulation our bodies. Our lifestyle habits and overall health can directly affect the health of our vagina, and therefore it is necessary to create a lifestyle that is mindful of personal care that can support our health, prevent disease and infection, and treat any conditions we may encounter.
First up – what are we talking about here? Does vagina health matter?
We know – this is a big topic. And a complex area of our bodies. The ‘Vagina’ is just one small part of the entire region made of multiple organs. When we refer to the vagina here though, we are also referring to the overall health of our reproductive system, with our vagina being the main point of reference as most conditions can create the most obvious symptoms in this area. Though as a general overview so we are all on the same page – the vulva is the area outside of the vagina, the one we can touch and see.
The vulva includes the labia (folds/lips) that contain the outer (thicker, wider skin) and inner (smaller folds inside). The vulva also contains the small round organ of the clitoris (often a pleasure center for women) and the opening of the vagina and urinary canal. The vagina is the internal passage that extends from outside to inside the uterus (womb). This post will use the vulva area and vagina referenced interchangeably.
Why the vajayjay needs some lovin’
There are many ways that the health of a woman’s vagina and associated organs can become compromised. From unsafe sex, contracting diseases, improper hygiene, immune system depletion and hormonal imbalance – to name a few. When our vaginal region is not well cared for, and such conditions occur, this can also lead to more serious illness such as more chronic and persistent diseases, PCOS, infertility and more.
This is why there are abundant forms of self-care, from more modern, medical based products and medications, to traditional and natural remedies. We highlight the most natural and effective herbal remedies and lifestyle tips for you to give your Vagina some lovin’ and support whole body health as you do.
Common female vagina complications
Infections are the most common occurrences for a woman to experience in this area. Fungal, bacterial and parasitic conditions can all affect the vaginal area, those are not just limited to this reproductive system, they can spread to other areas of the body (intestines) or, similarly, begin internally and spread to the vaginal region.
Many women may already have heard of, or even experienced a ‘yeast infections’, as this is the main form of vaginal infection. Other names for this are Candida or Thrush. Medical terms may refer to it as Vaginitis, Bacterial vaginosis (BV), candidiasis, vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC), or Trichomoniasis (Trich). It is reported that about 75% of all women will experience Vaginitis (yeast infection) at some point in their lives.
Why we get infections
This above condition stems from an overgrowth of bacteria that thrives in low-oxygen environments. This imbalance of bacteria disrupts regular pH balance of the Vagina and can lead to symptoms of itching, burning, irritation, pain inside and out, abnormal discharge, inflammation, swelling and disturbing odor.
A healthy odor is a smell unique to every person, normal clear/white discharge turns yellow in air exposure. Discharge amount will depend on monthly cycle and hormone fluctuations. Though if anything changes down there in terms of physical pain, discomfort and irregularities in odor and discharge, this may well be a sign of infection.
Hormonal fluctuations and imbalance can also cause a condition such as atrophic vaginitis, which causes a thinning of the vaginal wall (resulting in painful intercourse with reduced lubrication). This condition can affect postmenopausal and postpartum women, as well as women experiencing conditions associated with low estrogen levels.
Women may also experience low health in their vagina brought about by external irritants. Allergies can internally flare from tampons, condoms, personal care products, vaginal hygiene products and even outwardly from fabric softeners, cleaners and other fragrances.
Allergies alone can be persistent and severe, depleting the immune system and putting the rest of the body at risk, so it is advised to switch to fragrance free, natural, hypoallergenic personal care products if you know you become irritated.
In the case of yeast infections, it is advised to avoid tight, synthetic underwear, which can trap air and moisture, tempting bacteria to overgrow. Switch to cotton underwear that absorbs moisture and promotes air circulation. Also, whether you have infection or not, it is suggested to promote more air circulation by removing underwear at night. Avoid harsh, chemical based soaps and wash this area only with water.
It is actually proposed that it will clean this area more effectively as water allows the body to regulate its own pH level. If you recognised symptoms of an infection, it is advised to take an at home pH test, or consult a medical professional for an examination.
Preventing infection is about supporting whole body health, especially in its balance of bacteria. It has been found that probiotics such as Lactobacillus, protects against pathogens by producing antimicrobials. Taking supplements, and supporting your body with probiotic foods such as fermented foods and yoghurts will be beneficial to not only treat, but also prevent infection. Diet plays an important role here.
It’s prescribed to avoid sugar and refined starches, which feed the yeast involved in infection. Processed foods and carbs, along with sugars, will spike blood sugar and raise yeast so limit foods like potatoes, white flour, breads and starchy foods.
Herbs for a happy vagina
Herbs strengthen and boost immune system, as well as provide treatment for many internal and external conditions that we experience. For women looking to treat vaginal infection, or keep this area healthy, clean and clear of infection, then herbal remedies are becoming even more popular as an alternative to medication.
Herbs can be internally taken as powders, capsules and teas to strengthen the internal system, or used in external treatments with steam and as oil or ointment application. Based on the scientific research done in this area, we provide some recommendations below of the most well known herbs to use to keep your Vagina in tip-top shape. Always check with your physician before starting any herbal remedies.
In a study of medicinal plants in relation to female sexual dysfunction (FSD), a review of the most regularly used plants in alternative treatments was conducted. As FSD is often associated with a decline in estrogen, this is a common condition for women dealing with hormonal imbalance, most often in menopausal women. The overall takeaway was that more studies are needed in this area, as it is still a growing area of research – however – the results showed potential for Fernula hermonis, Angelica sinensis (Dong Quai), Gingko biloba, Humulus lupulus and Tribulus terrestris as all being linked to FSD positive results.
Herbologists, alternative medical practitioners, and homoeopathists prescribe herbs to support reproductive and vaginal health. University of Maryland Medical center recommends that herbs can be a health boosting inclusion into any lifestyle, especially women looking to prevent infections, diseases and conditions related to their reproductive health and vagina.
The following herbs are all recommendations as being supportive for Vaginal Health in women:
Red raspberry: Often prescribed to support uterus health, this herb assists to alleviate vaginal dryness. Historically, it is a folk remedy for postpartum distress to restore balance.
Black Cohosh: This estrogenic herb is used to treat women’s reproductive health by relieve dryness, premenstrual symptoms and cramps.
Pau D’arco: As an anti fungal, this herb both treats and prevents fungal/yeast infections such as candida.
Tea Tree: Used more effectively in topical (ointment/oil) treatment on the external region around a woman’s vagina, this potent oil has antibacterial and anti fungal qualities.
Furthermore, green tea, garlic, cat’s claw and milk thistle are all effective herbs used to detox the body, boost the immune system, as antibacterial and antifungals. All herbs (apart from tea tree) can be brewed as tea to be taken internally, or used as extracts in ointments and oils to use on the region topically.
The century old tradition – Vagina Steaming is it worth it?
Yes, you read right, the oven can be steam cleaned. Steaming your lady parts is not some new gimmick. This centuries old tradition has been used in cultures all over the world! In Korea, it is called ‘Chai-Yok’. In Indonesia, ‘Ratus’, in Spain, ‘Bajos’. This technique has been (and continues to be) a way for women to maintain a clean, healthy vagina. It is often an herbal treatment for fertility issues in the above cultures.
The steam works with a combination of traditional herbs to nourish, tone, purify and cleanse the region by allowing fresh oxygenated blood to flow to this area. The moist heat of the vapor opens pores, and the steam carriers the medicinal benefits of the herbs with their oils. This is absorbed into the skin, enters the blood stream and not only creates suppleness in the vaginal it has healing effects on the reproductive system.
More spas in the western world are offering Vaginal Steaming as a treatment, so if you’re curious and feel up to trying something new, then why not give it a go – she just might love it!
The following herbs are most often used for vagina health:
– Lavender: Relaxes mind, body, increases blood flow, settles nervous system, is an antiseptic and antispasmodic for health uterine function.
– Oregano: Is stimulating in its effects, used to bring on the menus (blood flow) in a menstrual cycle. It can also prevent infection in its antiseptic qualities.
– Rose: Relaxes, uplifts, creates a soft, cleansed feeling and fragrance.
Other herbs used: Marigold, Wormwood, Red Clover, Chamomile, Mugwort, and Basil.
Want to try it yourself?
Place a large container of water under a chair/stool and fill with water that has been boiled with the fresh herbs (or oil). So that you don’t risk any irritation from potential sensitivities, start with small doses of the herbs. Just a few pinches of fresh herbs in a gallon or so of water (or 1 or 2 drops of oil) to start. Sit on the chair without underwear, and place a large towel, blanket over your lower body. Be sure that the rising steam is not too hot or intense. Stay for 20-30 minutes and towel dry. Best done at night so that you may sleep and allow your vagina region to relax and continue to nourish all night.
Our lady parts give us a lot of love, allowing our body to function in cleansing, creating, reproducing and maintaining health. The least we can do is give them a bit of love by paying attention to your personal care regime, preventing infections and trying some natural, herbal remedies of your own.
How do you take care of your Vagina? Do you have any regular nourishment techniques that weren’t mentioned above? Or have you even tried Vaginal Steaming yourself? Let us know in the comments below!
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