Q: What can a girl do to care for herself if she is susceptible to urinary tract infections and yeast infections? My dad didn’t teach me much about this growing up but now that I’m married I’d like to be more informed when I look for things to purchase for my partner.
A: What a considerate partner! As a person with semi-sensitive skin and vagina, I experience bacterial vaginosis a couple of times a year, usually when the weather changes, my stress increases, or I introduce a new toy or sex partner to my body. Some people experience vaginal irritation very regularly, other folks claim they’ve never had a problem, but most of us with a vagina will encounter a flare-up of sorts that has nothing to do with sexual transmission, but more about self-care.
Unscented laundry detergent, hygiene wipes/baby wipes, cotton underwear, sleeping without underwear, wiping front-to-back (from vulva to anus) after a bowel movement or in general, peeing after sexual interaction of any kind; these are all things that I include in my daily life in order to avoid vaginal irritation. Drinking lots of water and avoiding processed foods and excess sugar can help maintain a healthy pH balance in your body. A person with chronic infections should go to an OB/GYN for a urinalysis test, just to make sure that a person isn’t actually showing symptoms of an STI like chlamydia, which can feel like a UTI or yeastie.
Avoid anything oil based, silicone lube, scented or flavored lotions, and as a rule, if it says “lotion” on it, do NOT put it in your vagina or near your vulva. If you’ve ever visited a Spencer’s Gifts novelty store in the mall you might have noticed their sex section; they sell those warming edible condiments to buyers ages sixteen and up, without telling the purchasers that those goofy products are better for blowjobs and not ideal or body-safe for vulvas or sensitive skin. Buyer beware!
Avoid polyester thongs and g-strings and bikinis, or if you have to wear one for work or play, make sure your vulva gets lots of fresh air and a quick shower rinse with water. Despite the fact that stores also sell things like “RepHresh”, it’s quite bad to douche your vagina with anything besides water, and most doctors will tell you this. These products exist because 100 years ago men in advertising discovered they could capitalize off of shame, and the free market hasn’t pulled these useless products from shelves yet. Please don’t douche your vagina with anything scented.
I recommend these holistic methods for dealing with bacterial vaginosis, yeasties, or general chafing from clothes or sex or hot weather: I use tea tree oil suppositories by the half or the full dose when I begin to feel a little ‘sting’ down there due to vaginal imbalance. I also just discovered MomotaroApotheca’s vaginal wellness salve and it’s already saved my vulva from some irritation a couple of times. Happy purchasing, lovely partner!
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