Essentials for a Healthy Vagina: Before, during, and after sex

Alright, it’s time we talk about the essentials for a healthy vagina, more particularly before, during, and after sex. This area of our bodies is extremely sensitive and, quite honestly, very moody. Friction, bacteria, and even the wrong lubricant can cause vaginal irritations, sometimes leading to further and more serious infections. 

As well, knowing how to care for your vagina both before and after sex can help make the experience more comfortable, pleasurable, and safe. 

It can be easy to forget when you’re in the heat of the moment (literally), but vaginal health is so important. Here are 8 things you should be doing before, during, and after sex in order to have and maintain the healthiest and happiest of vaginas.

Before Sex

Washing 

Very recently, celebrities like Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Charlize Theron publicly stated that they take infrequent showers, often waiting till they see dirt or “ waiting for the stink” as Kristen Bell so eloquently put it. While infrequent showers may be the norm for many people (hey, I promise we aren’t here to judge!), you may still want to think about giving this area of your body a little cleanse even if you aren’t in the mood to jump in the shower and bathe your entire body. Studies have shown that washing your vulva daily with non-allergenic, plain soaps will help keep bacteria from being transferred from the vulva or anus to your vagina during sex. 

Stay hydrated!

Don’t skip your fluids! It’s important to drink water and stay hydrated for a myriad of reasons, including maintaining a healthy and happy vagina. Drinking water doesn’t only keep your external genital skin hydrated, but it can also help you maintain a lubricated vagina. When the skin both inside and outside the vagina is dehydrated, this can lead to itching or infection. 

Use lubrication

Many couples choose to use a lubricant to help with friction during penetrative sex. Lubrication reduces friction which can make penetrative sex more enjoyable, as well as help you avoid UTIs.

While you can easily find lubricants in many shops, such as your local pharmacy or grocery store, it’s important to always look at the ingredients because some might not always agree with you and your body. One ingredient known to cause problems is glycerin, an additive that gives lube its long-lasting moist feeling. Glycerin can affect the balance of bacteria in the vagina (vaginal flora) and increase the risk of infections such as Yeast infection and Bacterial vaginosis. As well, be sure to keep away from products that contain petroleum as these can affect the vagina’s natural PH level.

Please don’t skip checking the ingredients of your lubricant! Opt for a lube with more natural, body-safe ingredients that are less likely to cause irritation.

Condoms

We all know the importance of practicing safe sex, and often that means using a condom, however, we still get caught up in the moment and skip this very important step. Whether your concern is contracting an STI (Sexually transmitted Infection) or an unplanned pregnancy, using a condom is the only way to prevent both. While using alternative methods of birth control may help to avoid pregnancy, they cannot protect you from STIs. This applies to both oral or penetrative sex. 

Don’t skip this important step! And most importantly, don’t be afraid to have “the talk” with your partner about sexual history and discussing condoms so that you can ensure that not only your vagina will remain healthy, but to also protect your partner. 

During Sex

Moving from the anus to vagina

Lots of prep work goes into getting ready for sex, but it doesn’t stop there.

If you're moving between the anus and vagina during sex, whether you’re with a partner or flying solo, you need to be vigilant about spreading bacteria. Germs can be transferred from your anus to your vagina with fingers, sex toys, or penises. These germs can cause uncomfortable, and sometimes serious, infections such as UTIs and Yeast Infections.

Be sure to wash anything that is being put into your butt before it comes into contact with your vagina (or use a new condom over it). 

After Sex

Use the restroom

We’ve made it to the end, but we’re not quite done yet. It may be tempting to lay around and bask in the glory of your orgasm after sex, whether with yourself or a partner, but you’d be wise to actually get up and head straight to the restroom. Within 30 minutes of having sex, make sure to use the bathroom so that you can flush out any bacteria that may be making its way up through your urethra or hiding in your vagina.

Washing (again!)

Likewise, washing your vulva after sex (just like before sex) can help remove bacteria. It’s important to clean the vulva after sex because the mouth, sex toys, fingers, and the penis can introduce bacteria into the vagina, potentially leading to UTIs or other vaginal infections.

Skip. The. Douche.

People have historically used douches to flush water into their vagina, clear out vaginal secretions, and to “clean” the vagina, but we know now that using a douche can actually disrupt the normal vaginal bacteria. According to the NHS, there’s “no evidence that douching protects against STIs or vaginal infections, and it may even increase the risk”.

Perifit: strengthen your pelvic floor with games and take the guesswork out of Kegels

Practicing specialized pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegels, can help minimize symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction and can improve your intimate wellbeing. It’s hard to tell, on your own, if your exercises are making a difference!

Perifit guides you in your pelvic floor training, gives stats and feedback about your program and progress and helps you keep track of your goals by using the probe and mobile app. This device uses an app, which can be accessed through your smartphone, to provide pelvic floor training to all users regardless of age or pelvic floor condition. Perifit offers a fun and engaging way to practice your Kegels and gives you the confidence to lead your life without the fear of any potentially embarrassing moments.

 

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