For many people, the end of the year is a time when our thoughts turn to self-improvement and how we can make next year even better. After the last few years which we experienced a pandemic, quarantine, and at least some level of isolation, mental and physical health resolutions are natural options. Why not make some resolutions that can help both?
Resolution #1: Get to Know Your Baseline
Unfortunately, some women grew up with a sense of shame about their vagina, so they have never taken the opportunity to see what’s happening down there. This is not just unfortunate; it’s also a potential health risk! If you don’t know what your vagina looks like on a typical day, you’re unlikely to notice any changes. But, 2023 is the year to change all that. Grab a mirror and do a vaginal self-exam. Don’t use any topical creams or douches beforehand, and pick a day that doesn’t fall during your period, if you have them. To perform a basic vaginal self-exam, wash your hands, and then feel your external labia and internal areas to notice textures as well as consistency of discharge. To take your exams to the next level, familiarize yourself with the vaginal health index to better understand what doctors are looking for in a healthy vagina. Putting a vaginal exam on the calendar monthly (and then following through!) can help you detect STIs, fibroids, and certain types of cancers early, which can undoubtedly improve your vaginal health.
Resolution #2: Schedule Regular Checkups
Going to the gynecologist each year may seem like a hassle, especially for post-menopausal women who no longer need birth control or fertility-related care. Yet, pap smears are still important in order to improve your vaginal health. The most common guideline is that women need them every three years until they are sixty-five, or more often if they have elevated cancer risks or a history of abnormal pap smears. Sometimes, doctors recommend discontinuing pap smears after a hysterectomy, but you should check with your doctor before deciding to forego this potentially life-saving procedure. And, if you’re sexually active, a regular STI check is crucial to your continued health as well.
Resolution #3: Stop Douching
This resolution may be the easiest to follow since it involves saving yourself time and money. Douches have been widely panned as detrimental to vaginal health, yet they are still around in many drugstores. One in five women still douches, though it has been linked with increased risk for STIs and Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, throws off vaginal pH balance, and can lead to vaginal infections. Your vagina cleans itself via discharge, so most doctors don’t recommend douching.
Resolution #4: Remember to Use the Bathroom After Sex
You’ve probably heard it before, but if you haven’t made a habit of peeing after sex, now is the time. Sex-related urinary tract infections occur when bacteria gets trapped in the urethra. A quick trip to the restroom rinses your urethra, saving you the time and trouble of a painful, irritating UTI. The good news is, you don’t have to do it immediately, so you can find a convenient time.
Resolution #5: Don’t Ignore Your Vaginal Symptoms
If you have started doing regular vaginal self-exams, you’ll know when something is amiss. The best way to improve your vaginal health is to do something about any symptoms that arise and not decide that you have to suffer. Itching, burning, strange smells, and overall irritation are signs that something is going on. Painful sex can take a significant toll on your relationship and your mental health! Having sex is proven to relieve stress, alleviate pain, and even boost your immune system—so your mental health and vaginal health are inextricably linked.
If you have vaginal symptoms that are coming between you and your sex life, don’t ignore them. Natural, hormone-free, effective options are ready to help you feel better. Membrasin’s® 2-Step Starter Pack can help improve your vaginal health from the inside out. Pick up a pack today!