If you stop and think about all of the miraculous things your vagina does for you, you might realize how much ought to take care of it. In other words, your vagina cleans itself each day, gives you pleasure during sex, and will help you deliver a baby—it needs some TLC. Read on to learn about what doesn’t make your vagina happy.
Not changing after a workout.
Just think about how gross it gets when you lounge around in your sweaty exercise gear for too long. You’re letting bacteria breed like there’s no tomorrow. If the bacteria enter your vaginal canal, they can upset the balance of the microbes that typically live there and you can end up with a yeast infection, according to Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., clinical associate professor of OB GYN at Yale School of Medicine. So, make sure to take off your sweaty workout gear as soon as possible and take a shower.
Sitting on a bike seat that doesn’t have padding.
If you’ve ever had your labia go numb or even hurt while cycling, it means that the way you’re sitting is compressing blood vessels and nerves in the crotch area, which can reduce genital sensation over time.
If you’re considering getting a tattoo below the belt, consider how it might affect your genitals. Anywhere you get a tattoo can trigger inflammation and redness in the area. But your vagina has the most sensitive skin of your entire body, says Minkin. In other words you’re practically asking for irritation in that area if you decide to get it inked. The cheap dye that is used on a temporary tattoo can have the same effect, so consider getting any body art somewhere else.
Putting whipped cream on it.
Or any sugary foods, for that matter. If sugar manages to make its way into your vagina, it can interfere with pH levels and lead to a yeast infection or another kind of infection.
Using baby oil for lubrication.
Lubricants that are oil-based are more thick and don’t wash off very simply. They can become trapped in the vaginal canal and keep bacteria there, too, which can result in infection. Try water-based or silicone-based lubricant instead, as they wash out easily.
Using too much soap down there.
“Even a soap that calls itself gentle can be irritating to your labia,” says Minkin. “The less you use, the better.” She suggests using a soap made with no fragrances or dyes, which can cause itching and burning. She also advises against using bath salts: “I always see a slight increase in patients complaining of vaginal irritation after Christmas because they use those salts during their bath without realizing how harsh the chemicals that give them their scent and color can be,” says Minkin.