It turns out your vagina can clean itself - and 9 other facts you should know

·Features and Health Editor
·3-min read

It sparked a slightly awkward conversation between Carrie Bickmore and Rachel Corbett on The Project recently, and plenty of discussion on social media.

Should we be cleaning our vaginas? There are plenty of products available marketed towards taking care of our lady bits, but it turns out soap isn't something we should be using, and definitely not on the inside as the vagina actually cleans itself.

Studio shot of a row of fruit against a pink background
There are so many things you might not know about vaginas. Photo: Getty

As Chloe Chivers, Naturopath at Kolorex, explains to Yahoo Lifestyle, if we start messing about with the natural order of things down there we could completely throw it out of whack.

"It’s important that we don’t wash inside the vagina as it may disrupt the bacterial balance and its ability to clean itself," Chloe tells us.

"But we can wash our vulva (the area on the outside of the body), using a gentle pH balanced wash that’s soap free and formulated to cleanse, freshen and soothe intimate areas."

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If that's new information to you then there are potentially a bunch of other important things you may not know about vaginas. And don't worry, you're probably not alone either. 34 per cent of women are actually too embarrassed to talk about vaginal health conditions, even with their mum.

Here Chloe shares nine more facts we should be aware of:

Your vagina needs to breathe

"The vagina needs to breath and be comfortable; and tight, synthetic underwear made of polyester and nylon can create extra humidity and stickiness. 

Cotton and bamboo fibres are better options as they are breathable and can absorb excess sweat, leaving you feeling fresh and dry for much longer.

What you eat can affect your vaginal health

Our diet impacts microbial growth in the gut and the vagina, and we can cultivate a healthy ecosystem through what we choose to eat. 

The main bacteria in your vagina that keep everything healthy & balanced are the amazing lactobacilli. Including a daily source of fermented foods that are naturally rich in lactobacilli like kimchi, yoghurt and sauerkraut may help support optimal vaginal health & pH balance.

woman eating
What you eat can affect down there. Photo: Getty

Your vagina and vulva are not the same thing

The vulva refers to the part of your genitals on the outside of your body, including the labia, the clitoris, the vaginal opening and the opening to your urethra. 

The word vagina actually refers to the muscular tube that runs from the vulva to the cervix connecting your uterus (womb) to the outside world.

Your vagina will change throughout your life

It’s incredibly adaptable and intelligent, constantly changing size, shape and structure. Your vagina changes during sex, during pregnancy and labour, and in the different hormonal phases of the menstrual cycle like ovulation, menstruation and during menopause.

Your vagina is actually acidic

When the vagina is healthy, the pH fluctuates between 3.6-4.5 (an acidic environment) with variation over the menstrual cycle phases being normal. 

An acidic environment protects the vagina from infection of opportunistic bacteria and yeast.

Your vagina is full of good bacteria

A healthy vagina contains a rich network of friendly lactobacilli bacteria that help maintain an acidic pH by producing lactic acid which in turn helps to keep pathogenic organisms like candida from thriving.

It’s normal for your vagina to have a slight smell 

The smell is often described as naturally mild and musky and not unpleasant. The vagina isn’t meant to smell like flowers or perfume!

Your vagina is talking to you 

Vaginas speak through discharge, odour, aches and pains, menstrual blood and more. This feedback of our vaginas can give us indications of our health and wellbeing! I encourage you to begin tracking your vaginal symptoms, so you know what’s normal and healthy for you.

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