What’s a vagina?
A vagina is also known as the birth canal for those who bear children. The vagina connects with the cervix and, through that, the uterus. The ovaries, located on either side of the uterus, release eggs in fertile people. These eggs travel down the fallopian tubes to the uterus, where, in conception, they meet up with sperm for fertilization and implant along the uterine wall.
When fertilization doesn’t happen, menstruation does. Until the egg is released, the uterus builds up extra lining to provide the most hospitable environment possible for a fertilized egg. When an egg isn’t fertilized, though, this lining has to go somewhere. So it exits the body during your period until menopause or any number of factors affect menstruation.
What’s a vulva?
The vulva is the outside portion of the female genitals — the part you can see. It consists of the mons pubis, clitoris, urethra, labia majora, and labia minora. The labia majora is the outer fold of the genitals, while the labia minora is the inner fold. These parts help protect the clitoris, which is extremely sensitive — even more so than the head of a penis. And like the head of a penis, the clitoris can be a major pleasure center! In fact, many people with vaginas need clitoral stimulation to orgasm.
Now that we’ve sorted out the fun facts of anatomy, let’s explore some habits for vagina health. Here are eight things to keep in mind if you are the proud owner of a vagina.
1. Don’t douche
I hate to break it to you because you may enjoy smelling “summery fresh,” but douching is actually harmful to the vagina. So, how do you keep it clean? Luckily, vaginas are amazing organs. Not only do they help bring life into this world (as if that wasn’t enough), but they also do a great job keeping themselves clean. They do this by balancing healthy bacteria and pH levels on their own. No douching needed.
Douching actually eliminates some of that healthy bacteria, which changes the pH and makes you more susceptible to infections but what about smelling summery fresh, you ask? Each person’s genitals smell different and there are natural ways to affect your personal scent, including changing up what you eat. Things like pineapple can make vaginas taste or smell sweeter, while asparagus can have the opposite effect.
Try this: If you still want to clean your vagina and vulva, make sure to use non-scented products and only wash the labia majora. Rebalance Personal Moisturizing & Cleansing Wipes by Good Clean Love are a great way to remove excess sweat or feel a little cleaner without affecting the natural pH of your vagina. They also have a moisturizing wash that is great for those personal places.
2. Keep the pubes
It’s okay to do a bit of trimming or removing hair along your swimsuit line. No one says it needs to be unruly — although you should rock it however you want! — but please, do keep your pubic hair. Pubic hair serves many purposes. It protects your downstairs from extra bacteria, and it also eliminates issues related to friction and sweating. Less hair removal also means less itch as the hair grows back, fewer cuts and scrapes, and fewer ingrown hairs.
Try this: If you must shave or landscape your pubic hair, try to use natural shaving gels and creams. Sliquid has a great line of hypoallergenic and vegan shaving creams that are fantastic for trimming up down there.
3. Check your lube ingredients
Lubrication is amazing. It can take sex to the next level for everyone involved. Still, there are some ingredients that aren’t very healthy for your body. Glycerin, for one, is related to sugar. While it works great to keep lubes moist, it can also contribute to bacteria growth in the vagina. Petroleum products are also no-nos because they can ruin the vagina’s natural pH level. Other things you may want to avoid include:
- nonnatural oils
Try this: Uberlube is a fantastic personal lubricant that can be used for massage as well. It’s made of silicone and maintains a great silky and smooth feel throughout play. You might also like Good Clean Love’s Almost Naked lubricant, which is organic, vegan, and free of parabens and glycerin. It also smells amazing.