Maintaining good feminine hygiene is important to sexual health. It can also affect your ability to bear children.
Vaginal health is a complex topic. There is a long list of gynaecological conditions that are beyond the scope of this article. However, there are several conditions which every woman should have a basic knowledge of.
1. Painful Intercourse
Dyspareunia refers pain experienced during sex. It can be either deep pain, which is felt internally or superficial pain, which is felt on the outside of the vaginal area. Possible causes are cysts on the ovary and womb disorders like fibroids. Vaginal infections, such as thrush and STDs can also cause superficial pain. Vulvitis or inflammation of the vulva is also a possible cause. Vaginismus differs from dyspareunia, and is caused by spasm of vaginal muscles.
2. Painful Menstruation
Medically known as dysmenorrhoea, painful periods can be either primary or secondary. The former refers to pain that occurs during normal menstruation while the latter is caused by certain reproductive disorders. The woman may also suffer from pain in the lower abdomen and blood clots are passed in the menstrual blood. This is a condition that requires medical consultation rather than self-remedy.
3. Vaginal Odour
Vaginal odour is usually a minor problem, and is caused by lack of personal hygiene or an imbalance of the vaginal flora. Some suggestions are: (a) stop wearing excessively tight panty and panty hose to avoid vaginal sweating. (b) wash your vagina daily at least trice daily with warm water and plain soap, (c) take products containing lactobacillus acidophilus to maintain the vagina’s floral balance, and (d) wash your vagina with a mixture of water and a few drops of tea tree oil.
4. Vaginal Discharge
Vaginal discharge is caused by glands inside the vagina and cervix that secrete small amounts of fluid which flows out. It is usually normal. If there are changes in the amount and odour of the discharge, accompanied by irritation or itchiness around your vagina, it can be a sign of some other underlying disease.
5. Vaginal Itch
This is a distressing problem and is usually non-serious. Stress and a decrease in estrogen during menopause can cause vaginal itching. But so can infections. Also, the vagina may be sensitive to chemicals in feminine sprays, creams, douches and contraceptive foams or jellies. Therefore, avoid using feminine hygiene sprays and douches, keep the genital area dry and clean, and use condoms to prevent STDs.
6. Inflammation of Vagina
Inflammation of the vagina can cause discharge, odour and irritation. The source of infection can either be sexual activity or yeast infections. Consult your doctor.
7. Urinary Incontinence
Urinary incontinence simply means urine leakage due to poor bladder control.
Possible causes are irritation or infection of the bladder, a weak pelvic floor muscle or the taking of medications such as muscle relaxants.