Women have a lot going on, and we’re not just talking busy schedules - our bodies are in a constant cycle set by our hormones. Understanding the ebb and flow of your body, can help you better monitor your health.
Here are five things about female health you need to know:
Discharge is normal.
Every woman has discharge. It’s just how our bodies work.
If you’re in good health, you’ll have clear to milky white discharge. Depending on where you are in your cycle, you could have more or less. During times when you can get pregnant, you’ll have more. During your infertile times, you’ll likely have none. Pregnancy and breastfeeding will also affect how much discharge you have.
Each woman has a healthy discharge that increases and decreases based on where she is in her cycle. Being aware of what is normal for your body gives you clues about when you should be concerned. If you notice a major change, talk with your doctor.
Every vagina is different.
There is no such thing as the right size for a vagina or other female genitalia.
Take the clitoris for instance. According to medical research, clitoral length can vary from 5-35 mm and vaginal length can vary from 6.5-12.5 mm.
Vaginas come in all shapes and sizes as well, and even your own vagina doesn’t stay the same size all the time. It grows and shrinks based on things like having sex, giving birth, and even wearing tampons.
Your lady parts clean themselves.
Odor. We all deal with it at some point in time. But rest assured, it’s part of being a female. Genetics, hormones, and even diet affect your scent.
Even though there are plenty of products to help with odor, the best method is to wash once per day with basic soap and water. Your lady parts are set up to clean themselves, and they do a pretty darn good job of it, too.
Feminine soaps may seem like a promising solution to strong odor, but beware. They can really mess with your vagina’s PH level. Douching may also seem logical, but it washes out the healthy bacteria that you need and opens you up to other smelly problems like yeast infections.
But what about during your period? It’s natural to want to wash more often during this time, but especially during your period, washing more than once a day can mess with your body’s natural cleaning processes.
What you eat can change how you smell.
While a simple, daily washing routine is all you really need, your diet can affect vaginal odor to some extent. If there’s a noticeable change in odor, consider your recent diet.
Foods like onions, garlic, coffee, and strong spices are often the culprit. But other foods eaten in excess can cause odor changes as well. Take, for instance, too much meat, dairy, or alcohol. A diet of vegetables, fruits, and grains can help to stabilize any odor caused by diet.
Having a baby won’t change your vagina as much as you think
By its very nature pregnancy causes big changes for your body, and that’s a good thing. At the end of pregnancy, childbirth causes even more changes. But how long do these effects last?
The most common effects of childbirth are stretching, bruising, and tearing. While these happen to different extents based on the woman and the birthing situation, they don’t normally last long term.
The good news is that in most pregnancies the vagina will return to be very close to its pre-pregnancy size. You probably won’t even be able to tell the difference!
Needing a way to track your body’s natural cycles? Check out the Dot app!
Downey, Lillian. "Foods That Cause Vaginal Odor." Livestrong (blog), August 14, 2017. Accessed April 4, 2018. https://www.livestrong.com/article/466660-foods-that-cause-vaginal-odor/.
"Keeping Your Vagina Clean and Healthy." NHS Choices(blog), January 12, 2015. Accessed April 4, 2018. https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/vagina-health/Pages/keep-vagina-clean.aspx.
Lloyd, Jillian, Naomi S. Crouch, Catherine L. Minto, Lih-Mei Liao, and Sarah M. Creighton. "Female Genital Appearance: ‘normality’ Unfolds." BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 112, no. 5 (January 12, 2005): 643-46. Accessed April 4, 2018. https://obgyn.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1471-0528.2004.00517.x.
Murkoff, Heidi. "What Really Happens to Your Vagina After Birth." What to Expect(blog), January 18, 2018. Accessed April 4, 2018. https://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/vagina-after-birth/.
Vaginal Discharge: What’s Abnormal?" WebMD (blog), February 25, 2018. Accessed April 4, 2018. https://www.webmd.com/women/guide/vaginal-discharge-whats-abnormal#2.
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