First things first, 5 essential facts about Vaginas
* The external part of the female genitalia is called vulva. The vagina is the tubular muscle canal that connects the vulva to the cervix.
* Attention! Just like people, vaginas come in all shapes, sizes (depth) and colours. A normal vagina?! It is a misconception.
* The vagina is self-cleansing.
* Vagina smells? It is okay. This smell is due to the lactobacilli bacteria that maintain the vagina’s pH balance. Be alarmed if the smell intensifies or changes.
* Vaginal discharge is okay too. Be concerned if the discharge changes colour, smell or is accompanied by pain or inflammation.
What does Vaginal health mean in your 40s?
Maintaining the health of your vagina is an ongoing process, but that doesn’t mean it’s an open war so, don’t lose your mental peace. Regular self-examinations and care at home can be very effective. In case of any discomfort, always seek professional help; DIY experiments, not recommended!
The 40s also bring in perimenopause; your estrogen levels drop, resulting in drying and thinning of the vaginal lining, making intercourse painful. During perimenopause, you can also expect: irregular periods, change in cholesterol levels, mood swings, depression, loss of bone, low libido, hot flashes and/or night sweats, etc.
You can read more about the mentioned symptoms here- Intro-to-Menopause-by-Dr-Ameya-Kanakiya-Sr-Gynaecologist.
9 Best ways to care for your vagina in your 40s
A few good practices on a personal level can help you ease the strain and the risk of vaginal infection; here is how:
* Visit your gynaecologist regularly! Periodic check-ups or tests can keep any anomaly under good check. Like any relationship, difficult conversations should very much be part of your consultation. Do not hesitate from supplying accurate information.
* Educate yourself on the subject and clarify doubts with your specialist.
* Be aware, being in your 40s or perimenopausal does not mean that you can’t get pregnant. The use of condoms protects you from unwanted pregnancies and STIs.
* Use lubricants for penetrative sex and avoid rough sex practices; they may cause damage to an already thin and dry vaginal lining.
* Use vaginal moisturisers only under the guidance of your gynaecologist.
* Maintain vaginal hygiene,
- Always wash your vulva front to back and not the other way as it may transfer undesirable particles to the vulva and infect it.
- Don't forget to pat dry after washing, rubbing with a cloth can prove to be harsh and a damp genital area in an open invitation to fungal infections.
- Use warm water to clean the vulva, not every time though.
- Avoid soaps altogether.
- Remember not to put the soap into the vagina while bathing.
- Washing your vulva after urination is a must.
- Change of underwear is recommended, in case of frequent discharge, sweat or overflow.
- Keep the genital area as dry as possible to avoid fungal infection.
- Avoid douching, it cleans out the lactobacilli (good) bacteria leaving the genitalia vulnerable to fungi and other microbes.
* Eat right! If you are not sure, consult your dietician or reach out to Elda Health for expert-backed guidance.
* Exercise! Nothing boosts your immunity and stamina like a good exercise routine.
The 40s may bring some drastic changes. However, these changes are not the ultimatum to a life that is declining. What it signifies is, today is the right time to take charge of your wellbeing. So, take steps to improve vaginal health and continue enjoying a healthy and promising life well into your happily ever after.