Sex & Dating

How To Maintain Great Vaginal Health

An OB-GYN shares tips to help keep your health in check.

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How To Maintain Great Vaginal Health

An OB-GYN shares tips to help keep your health in check.

Favor, the inclusive primary care telehealth provider, recently conducted a poll about all things vagina-related. According to the poll, over half of the vulva owners are anxious about their vaginas. Approximately 89% of Favor’s followers shared that they are not only uncomfortable with their vaginas, but influences like porn and social media have contributed to their unrealistic standards about their bodies.

To help curb the anxiety, Favor’s in-house OB-GYN, Dr. Amy Roskin, shared a few important things you need to know about vaginal health, including several indicators that your body uses to signal your health status.

Read on for Dr. Roskin’s advice on vaginal health.

Signs of great vaginal health

You have clear vaginal discharge.

A common misconception held by people who have vaginas is that discharge is a cause for concern. While it sometimes can be, clear discharge is often a sign that your vagina is performing its self-cleaning duties and is in great health. The consistency of your discharge might change depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle, but if it’s clear, you’re likely in the clear as well.

You have a strong pelvic floor.

Signs of a strong pelvic floor include being able to control urination and prevent leakage. While pelvic floor strength can decrease after you’ve given birth or as you get older, certain exercises like kegels can help to keep your pelvic floor strong.

You have a mild vaginal odor.

Having a mild vaginal odor is usually nothing to worry about. That being said, if your vaginal odor is particularly strong or fishy, that might be a sign of infection. In that case, seeking out medical attention in person or through a telehealth platform like Favor is strongly advised.

Signs of poor vaginal health

There’s a change in the color, odor or amount of vaginal discharge, as well as itching or irritation around the vagina or vulva.

A change in your discharge could be a sign of vaginitis, a type of infection that can cause the vagina to become irritated or inflamed. This includes conditions like yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis. Changes in discharge or vaginal irritation could also be a sign of certain sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia or gonorrhea.

You experience bleeding between periods or after sex.

Occasional spotting can be completely normal and can occur during ovulation, or when adapting to new birth control. However, bleeding between periods can also be due to vaginal dryness, inflammation, as well as certain STIs such as chlamydia. Using scented soaps that irritate the vagina or a vaginal douche can also cause dryness and irritation that result in bleeding.

You can feel pain during sex or when urinating.

Pain during sex can result from a variety of conditions, including vaginismus or spasms of the vaginal wall, vaginal dryness or tension in the pelvic floor. Pain during sex can also occur with endometriosis, pelvic inflammation or scarring. Pain during urination can occur from urinary tract infections, as well as vaginal infections.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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