Even when chatting among other girls, there is a lot of shame that is associated with girls being open about the things that affect them, and infections is one of those topics. The shame is caused by the prevalent “slutshaming” of young women in particular if they have any type of infection.
There are a lot of uneducated opinions on infections and there is also too little education available for girls to understand their bodies better. When I was 16, a family friend got infected with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) from her first boyfriend. I remember most the shame she experienced, and for a long time I viewed infections in particular as something shameful and something that would not happen to me if I didn’t sleep with boys. But that’s also the type of thinking that is dangerous, especially for women, since they are not only infected sexually but can even get an infection because of the kind of soaps they use.
According to Healthline you do need to wash your vulva. But before we get into that let’s start with basic anatomy. The vagina is the inner canal inside your body.
The term “vulva” refers to the outer parts around the vagina, such as the:
inner and outer labia (vaginal lips)
You shouldn’t wash inside your vagina but Healthline recommends washing your vulva, which is the outside area.
The vagina is a self-cleaning organ; it doesn’t need all these perfumed products that ads sell to us. All the fluids that it releases are being released for a reason; they are natural – even the smell is normal. According to Medical News Today a healthy vagina naturally has a slight odour. You should not use perfumed products to counteract this smell, and these products may even make the fluids and odour worse.
The most important thing to remember is, it shouldn’t be painful to pee. If there is a discomfort, then something is most likely wrong.
Infection symptoms that should concern you:
Vaginal itching and burning
Vaginal soreness and discomfort
Inflamed, flushed, or swollen skin around your vagina and vulva
A change in the color of vaginal discharge
These are some of the symptoms, but not all of them, so if you experience something different then do your research and go see a doctor if you still feel uncomfortable.
Safe ways to avoid infections:
Using a condom to avoid pregnancy and STIs
Vaginal area must always be dry. Change underwear if it becomes wet with sweat, menstrual blood, or other fluids
Urinating after having sex, to avoid developing a urinary tract infection (UTI)
Wiping from front to back after urinating
Just use warm water and gently wipe the outside area. If you feel that isn’t clean enough for you then use a mild, unscented soap.
What can cause infections:
Soaps containing perfume
There are different types of vaginal infections, caused by different things. So always assess what the cause could be and then change your behavior. Below we listed the big three that most infections fall under depending on the cause:
Yeast infections – develops because of fungus overgrowth in your vagina. The most common symptom of a yeast infection is vaginal itchiness. It’s often accompanied by increased vaginal discharge that’s thick and white in color.
Bacterial vaginosis – There are naturally occurring bacteria in your vagina. If a particular type starts to grow too much, it upsets the balance and you might develop a bacterial infection known as bacterial vaginosis. It is often caused by having several sex partners or a new partner, but can also affect women who are not sexually active. Vaginal discharge may appear grey or yellow due to a bacterial infection. Sometimes women notice a fishy odour after sex.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) – The most common STI is trichomoniasis, which can mimic the symptoms of other vaginal infections. It is transmitted through unprotected sex with someone who has an STI. If you have unprotected sex with someone who has an STI, you can also contract that condition.
You have nothing to be ashamed about when it comes to taking care of your health, there is a lot of judgement in local clinics from people who might know you and even the nurses. But always remember those are based on biases. It’s easier said than done, but try to ignore the judgement and go because your health is of utmost importance.
Find out what Premenstrual Syndrome is here
Tell us: What have you learned from this article that you did not know before?