Welcome to the world of sexual exploration! At Shopjo.com, we believe in the power of personal pleasure and...
BY STACI CRUSE, CERTIFIED SEXUAL EDUCATOR
Hi y'all! Sorry it's been a bit but you know life happens! Update on me- I have now officially passed the verbal and written portion of my sexual education certification!!!! Woohoo!!! Although the learning never ends. I am currently working on building my library of endless books filled with knowledge for me to soak in and learn more.
Enough about me, let's talk a little about education. Even though Women's History Month is over, I still want to focus a little on women's health. Vaginal health is a huge and important part of women's health. Today's focus is going to be on maintaining vaginal ph balance. So, many factors can play a part in vaginal ph. The menstrual cycle, age, semen, medications, utis, stress, improper diet, douching and yes even some personal lubricants. Wow! As if us vulva owners didn't have enough to be concerned about, but now you have to worry about this? Hang in there, it's not as hard as it sounds to have a healthy vagina, I promise.
What is a normal vaginal pH? Healthy vaginal pH levels should be between 3.8-4.5 (before menstruation and after menopause, a healthy pH tends to be on the higher end). When your pH level is above the norm, some of the signs are excess discharge, itching and pain when urinating, and/or a foul or fishy smell. With the correct pH, a vagina can protect itself from infection-causing bacteria and yeast, like bacterial vaginosis. So maybe you have had some or all of these and you just didn't realize what could be causing it. Now let's talk about how you can fix it and improve your overall health.
Use an internal or external condom when having penis in vagina sex. This not only helps to protect against STI's but it prevents the alkaline semen from increasing your pH, as well as prevention from sexually transmitted infections.
Probiotics and probiotic supplements. These can help minimize bad bacteria and restore good bacteria to balance the pH scale.
Don't Douche. Let me say it again for the southern women whose mother's had you douching after every period. DON'T DOUCHE! The vagina is self-cleaning and doesn't need anything but soap and water on the external parts of the vulva. If you are having issues with odor and these tips don't help with correcting your pH levels please see a gynecologist or other health care professional because it may be due to vaginal infections or other health issues.
Eat yogurt. Yogurt is a great source of the beneficial bacterial species of Lactobacillus needed for a healthy pH, plus you get the calcium and vitamin D to boost digestive health.
Regular exams with your OB-GYN. This is very important to help maintain a healthy vaginal environment. Keep the communication with your OB-GYN open and honest in an effort to be able to discuss all things comfortably. From tampon or birth control, to vaginal discharge and vulvovaginal health, your doctor should be your best friend.
Healthy Diet. I mean we all know this is important for many reasons not just vaginal health!
It is important to note that yeast infections are not necessarily caused by an off balanced pH; however, when your vaginal pH is out of balance, it can cause an overgrowth of certain bacteria that can lead to vaginal yeast infections. If you experience frequent yeast infections it doesn't hurt to contact your doctor.
Now for the lubricant part. I will always use this disclaimer when discussing lubricants because as a sexual educator I want you to know that I do work for System JO and we sell lubricants. I will be showcasing products from time to time from our line that I know work well for certain things. Please, whatever you use, do your due diligence and research the company and ingredients and make sure they are right for you and your personal wellness.
If you use lubricants, again, KNOW YOUR PRODUCT!!! Make sure they are 510(k) certified and know the ingredient content. Most employees at adult stores know their stuff, so if you don't, just ask. Some lubricants can have high pH levels which as you have learned today can throw off that all magical pH. The one JO has that I always recommend for women who have had issues using lubricants before (yes, even before I was employed by System JO) is our Agape. It is pH balanced for vaginal use, paraben, glycerin, and glycol propylene free, and is made to mimic a woman's natural lubrication that she makes on her own. So for any vulva owner that may have had issues using lubricants before, this might be the right choice for them.
So that's it for today. I hope you learned something that helps you to be the healthiest you!
Next time I will talk a little more about what a 510(k) certification is and why it is so important for your lubricants to have them. I'm sure at least some of y'all are wondering now what the heck is 510(k).