We commonly refer to our external genitalia as the ‘vagina’, the correct term is actually the vulva. We’ll stick with vagina as that’s the term most people use.
At some stage, most women worry that something is just not right down there.
Maybe things just don’t smell right, you’re experiencing too much discharge or it is a funny colour.
Perhaps you have vaginal itching, soreness or a burning. Or you may just be worried that things don’t look right.
Vaginal odour is normal. It can change throughout your menstrual cycle.
Your body produces clear or white vaginal discharge to keep you healthy. It is normal for the amount and consistency to vary throughout your menstrual cycle.
A strong, unpleasant or fishy like odour.
Changes in the colour, smell or consistency of your vaginal discharge. This includes thick lumpy ‘cottage cheese’ like discharge or thin excessive white/grey discharge.
Pain, an itchy vagina or burning in the genital area.
Your genital skin is sensitive. Here are some simple ways to reduce the risk of infections.
Practice safe sex. The best way to protect against infections is to wear condoms every time you have sex.
Do not douche. Your vagina is self-cleaning. Cleaning inside your vagina with water, soap or anything else can upset the normal pH balance.
Avoid perfumed soaps, antiseptics and vaginal deodorant. They can make the genital area dry and irritated. They also upset the normal pH balance and increase the risk of infection.
(If you can’t bear the thought of going soap free, use an unperfumed pH neutral soap free wash. Examples include QV Gentle Wash, Cetaphil or sorbolene cream.)
Change pads and tampons regularly. Yeast infections are more likely to grow in warm, moist environments.
Wear cotton underwear and avoid tight or sweaty clothing. Synthetic underwear or staying in tight or sweaty clothing can limit airflow. This can cause your skin to get irritated and increase your risk of yeast infections.
Keep yourself healthy. Like most things in life, a balanced diet, regular exercise and avoiding smoking will help to keep your body healthy and functioning well.