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Vaginal health: what you need to know 

Learn about the causes and risk factors of vaginal infections. Find out what symptoms of those infections are and find tips on how to prevent vaginal infections.

Intimate conditions: what to look out for and why

Intimate health affects all women, but the subject still isn’t raised enough. Always remember you are not alone and your intimate health isn’t something you should feel embarrassed about. Most vaginal conditions such as thrush and bacterial vaginosis (BV) are easy to resolve whilst can cause discomfort if left untreated. That’s why it’s always best take special care of your intimate parts, and seek medical advice whenever you just feel something isn’t right.

The reason why it’s best to take extra care of your intimate areas is that your vagina is a highly susceptible environment for microbes to develop. The pH of your vagina is different from the pH of the rest of your body, so even using a harsh soap can disturb the pH level. Then there’s you period, when poor hygiene can lead to bacterial development. Also, some bacteria can be transmitted during sex.

Intimate Infections can start with itching between your legs or an unusual, often smelly discharge. If you notice these symptoms, remember it’s never a good idea to keep quiet about it and hope it will just go away. Don’t stress as these conditions are common and usually easily treatable, but it’s always advisable to seek help from your GP when you notice anything unusual for the first time.

If you don’t know your body well, you might struggle to notice if your vaginal discharge has changed. You might even think that typical discharge alone is already a sign of infection. However, typical (clear or white) discharge is a normal sign which indicates that your vagina is healthy. Your body produces discharge so that your vagina can clean and lubricate itself. However, smelly discharge that changes color might indicate that you have an infection.

Causes and triggers of vaginal infections

Vaginal infections may be caused by bacteria, yeast or other microorganisms. There are some conditions that can make them more likely to happen:

  • Taking antibiotics. Antibiotics kill all bacteria, including your good bacteria, so there is nothing to prevent the yeast from overgrowing.

  • Impaired immune system. If you have lowered immunity you are more likely to get yeast infections.

  • Poor hygiene. When your intimate area is not cleaned properly, bacteria causing infections can grow.

  • Tight, non-absorbent underwear. By wearing this type of underwear you may be encouraging the growth of yeast and bacteria because of the trapped moisture.

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Why you need to take control of your vaginal health

There might be many physical and psychological consequences of not treating vaginal infections. Many women find their psychological well-being suffers, as well as their relationship. Moreover, untreated intimate infections can also have an impact on your general health. So, don’t put up with a ‘’wait and see” approach, but take action so you can get back to feeling like your normal self sooner.

How can you prevent the infections from happening?

There are simple ways that may help to prevent intimate infections from happening or reoccurring. Regular and proper hygiene of your intimate parts can keep your good bacteria in check. You should wash every day with mild, non-scented soap. After washing yourself you should remember to dry your intimate parts thoroughly.

Another way of help avoiding infections is to wear loose, absorbent clothing and cotton lined underpants. This type of clothing will help air to circulate and will help keep your genital area dry.

You should also remember about hygiene when having sex. Make sure that you empty your bladder after having sex. Taking this precaution will help to remove any bacteria that might have spread into your urethra (the tube that connects your bladder to just above your vaginal opening) in order to help prevent cystitis.

Other things to remember if you want to avoid vaginal infections include:

  • Wipe from front to back after going to the toilet to prevent bacteria from the anus from being moved to the vagina.

  • Remove wet clothes, for example swimsuits or workout gear straight after finishing exercising.

  • Avoid vaginal douching which might remove some of the good bacteria.

  • Avoid using hot tubs and taking very hot baths.


*Koumans, E. H., Sternberg, M., Bruce, C., Mcquillan, G., Kendrick, J., Sutton, M., & Markowitz, L. E. (2007). The Prevalence of Bacterial Vaginosis in the United States, 2001???2004; Associations With Symptoms, Sexual Behaviors, and Reproductive Health. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 34(11), 864–869. doi: 10.1097/olq.0b013e318074e565