8 Things you should probably know about your vagina
Ladies, it's time to get a figurative handle on our vaginas. Too many women don't know jack about their vaginas, and public health official Dr. Renaisa Anthony believes that's a problem.
As a medical doctor and public health educator, Dr. Anthony has a unique perspective on women's health. "I'm perplexed that women can have sex and babies, and still know so little about the vagina," she says. Anthony shares eight vaginal factoids that are good for more than a game of trivial pursuit — these bits of knowledge may actually help you live a happier and healthier life.
1. A happy balance
Your vagina is an ecosystem of bacteria and yeast, and most of the time it's in a happy balance. When something gets out of whack, though, you can get a yeast or bacterial infection. "Definitely don't douche," says Anthony. Douches can throw off the happy balance.
2. Check your status
If you're sexually active, you simply must test regularly for sexually transmitted infections. "Some women don't have symptoms. Get tested for at least gonorrhea, syphilis, hepatitis and trichomoniasis," says Anthony. Doing so can prevent the disease from spreading and protect your health and fertility.
3. Give it what it needs
"Vaginas are actually really good at taking care of themselves," she says. "They don't need a lot of perfumes or powders." Instead, give your vagina what it needs by keeping it clean and dry. If you want to extra steps to pamper your vagina, use products like Vagisil Moisturizing Wash that are designed to cleanse and moisturize intimate skin.
4. Appreciate its shape
There's a lot of shame surrounding the female anatomy, and some women don't even know what their vaginas look like. "It's going to be with you for life," says Anthony. She adds that you need to know what it looks like so you can keep an eye on skin changes that might signal cancer. "Take a mirror, lie down and explore," she adds.
5. A hole in — wait for it — three
Your undercarriage has three holes, ladies. "I'm often surprised that women don't know they have three holes," Anthony says. "There is a vaginal hole, anal hole and a urethral hole for urinating."
6. Map your parts
You'll enjoy sex a lot more if you understand where to direct the action. "If you don't know the [location of your anatomy], your partner won't know it either. It's important to know your package — especially the vagina and clitoris — so you can teach your partner how to unwrap it."
7. Understand discharge
"Most women have a normal physiologic discharge," Anthony says. But do you know what your discharge is telling you? A cottage cheese, fishy-smelling or colored discharge can mean an infection. Know the signs of abnormal discharge so you can act.
8. Know your normal
Every woman has a slightly different take on "normal." When it comes to vaginal health, only you can know what's normal for your body. Anthony concludes, "Know your normal and see a women's health provider if anything changes. It is also important to tell us the whole truth — believe me, we have heard it all."