10 Ways to be Kind to Your Vagina
Vajayjay, coochie, honey pot, hoo haw… whatever you may call it, here are some ways to keep your vagina and vulva (the area around your vagina) healthy and happy.
- Know your parts.
It can be confusing to try to understand an area of your body that is so tough to see! You can get a better look if you use a hand-held mirror. Here’s a guide:
This is a drawing of the outside area around your vagina (called the vulva). The urethra is above the vagina, and is the small opening where urine or pee comes out. The anus is below the vagina, and is where bowel movements or poop leaves the body. Your vagina is right there in the middle. It’s important to know that not all vulvas look alike—check out The Vulva Gallery.
- Be careful using soap.
The skin around your vagina including your outer labia (labia majora) and inner labia (labia minora) is super sensitive and can get dry and irritated if you use strong soap. You actually don’t need more than warm water to wash the area around your vagina. If you feel you must use soap, choose a soap that is unscented because the chemicals used for scents can be especially irritating. And save the soap for areas with hair. If there’s no hair, it’s an area that’s probably too delicate for soap!
- Choose loose-fitting clothes.
You may love those skin-tight jeans, but your vagina doesn’t. Tight clothing traps moisture and heat, which can be irritating to your vagina and makes it more likely that you’ll get a yeast infection. Try to spend most of your time in looser fitting clothes that let some air in. Consider “going commando” (not wearing underwear) while sleeping.
- Appreciate your normal discharge.
Have you ever wondered about the fluid that comes out of your vagina? It’s called “discharge” and it’s what your vagina does to stay healthy. So it’s a good thing! Normal discharge is clear, white, or light yellow. If you notice a change in the color or smell of your discharge, or if it feels itchy or painful, your vagina may be telling you that you have an infection or another problem, so ask your primary care provider about it.
- Get your HPV vaccine.
HPV—which stands for Human Papilloma Virus—is a virus that can cause cancer of your cervix (the end of your vagina that connects to your uterus) and genital warts. HPV is common and contagious and is spread by sexual contact. The good news is that you can lower your risk of getting HPV by getting vaccinated by your primary care provider.
- Ditch douching.
Think you need to clean up down there? You don’t! Your vagina is self-cleaning. Douching is a way of washing out the vagina using a mix of water and chemicals but douching isn’t necessary and it actually makes you MORE likely to get infections.
Be smart about sex.
There are different ways to have sex and not all of them involve your vagina. If you decide to have sex using your vagina, here are some ways to make sure you treat it right:
- Use condoms! Whether you are putting the condom on a penis or a sex toy or using a female condom, it is an important way to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections including HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, and syphilis. You can also use a dental dam to help protect you when you are receiving oral sex or giving oral sex to someone else’s vagina.
- Wash your hands. If you/your partner(s) are using your hands for sex, make sure to wash your hands before and after sex. And don’t forget to trim those fingernails!
- Lube, lube, lube. When your vagina is dry, sex can be painful and could even cause tiny tears in your vagina. Yikes! Lubricant can make sex safer and more enjoyable.
- Ask your primary care provider your vagina questions.
It’s always a good idea to talk to your primary care provider or gynecologist and ask whatever questions you have about your body, particularly your vagina. Have you noticed a change in the way your vagina smells? Or in the color or amount of discharge (the fluid that comes out of your vagina)? Are you having pain or itchiness? Or maybe you’re wondering if the shape or color of your vulva is normal? When it comes to your vagina, there are no silly questions. Just ask your primary care provider or gynecologist!