Vaginal Health - How to Keep Your Vagina Happy
To listen to our podcast episode on Vaginal Ecology, tune in here!
A happy vagina means a happy life, right?
Did you know that the health of your vagina (I prefer to call her *yoni) has its own unique microbiome? In fact, your overall health impacts your vaginal ecology and vice versa, which creates a very important internal ecosystem. Vaginal health is so vital that it is considered a sixth vital sign - Yes, you read that right! When it comes to our health, everything is interrelated. Just like your gut, your yoni microbiome contains various groups of bacteria to help maintain balance. *Lactobacillus is an important group of bacteria that produces lactic acid and, therefore, keeps the vaginal pH low. Within each group of bacteria, there are different species that further promote vaginal health by supporting mucus production, which acts as a protective barrier against harmful bacteria, yeast, and viruses. In fact, your yoni is cleaner than your own mouth! To learn more about this, read the work of Sharon Hillier, PHD, click here.
The Symptoms of a Disrupted Vaginal Microbiome:
- You experience chronic pelvic pain and infection, UTIs, vaginal itching and irritation, yeast, Gardnerella, Group B Strep infections, vulvovaginitis (overall inflammation and irritation of the vagina, the vulva, or both), or vaginal dryness.
- Painful sex.
- You have used antibiotics, singularly or chronically.
- Infertility issues (conception difficulties, implantation issues, and miscarriages).
- You have PCOS - Elevated androgens are closely related to vaginal dysbiosis.
- You did / currently have an IUD.
- You have HIV - which arises from the trauma to your vaginal wall due to irritation, inflammation, and an increase in bacteria that makes the vaginal tissue more susceptible to the HIV virus which is then transmitted into your bloodstream.
If your vaginal flora is disrupted, then inflammatory markers will take over and a cascade of negative health impacts will follow, including vaginal infections, such as yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis.
Disruptions in your gut microbiome and vaginal microbiome, because they are interrelated, lead to unwanted bacterial infections of the vagina. To prevent vaginal infections from occurring, and/or to understand why you may be experiencing repeat offenders, read more or listen to our podcast on this here.
1. Hormonal Birth Control Pills
Medications in general, but especially the HBC pills, have a direct and negative impact on both our gut and vaginal microbiomes. Antibiotics are another incredibly used and source of vaginal flora disruptions leading to bacterial overgrowths.
What to do: I recommend avoiding all medications, both topical and oral, if possible. If you do have to use antibiotics, then I recommend supplementing with a probiotic, eating gut-healthy foods, and using all-natural lubes and condoms.
2. Poor gut health
Gut health is vital for great, overall health. Supporting our gut health will allow our vaginal health to thrive, which means no more vaginal infections! To learn how to re-balance to your gut, make sure to subscribe to our emails and texts, as we will be sending out FREE copies of our Gut Health eBook.
What to do: Support your gut health via:
- Nutrition - eat your 7-9 servings of organic fruits and vegetables daily! Listen to my podcast episode here on nutrition for hormone health. Fiber, resistant starches, and lacto-fermented foods are daily must-includes.
- Reducing stress - stress is one of the most potent hormone disruptors. Learn more on how to keep stress at bay.
- Reduce inflammation - via nutrition, staying away from processed foods, limiting alcohol consumption to zero, move your body, rebound, sauna, detoxification support (check out my Bitter formula for this support).
- Supplementation: My organic Bitters herbal remedy will support gut health and liver health + detoxification. Supplementing with a probiotic that contains Lactobacillus reuteri and Lactobacillus rhamnosus, since these are known to be beneficial for vaginal health.
3. Poor Hygiene
What to do:
- Don’t douche.
- Wear non-thong underwear and wash regularly.
- Use protection when engaging in intimate, sexual play.
- New sexual partners, toxic tubes and condoms, etc., can all impact your vaginal flora.
- Wipe front to back when you go poop.
More Tips For Optimal Vaginal Health:
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to get in enough phytonutrients which have many benefits, one of which is keeping your vaginal tissue healthy.
- Support your vaginal microbiome with lacto-fermented foods and fruits/vegetables.
- Balance your blood sugar. Listen to my episode on the top hormone disruptors, and how an imbalanced blood sugar wreaks havoc on your hormones.
- Reduce alcohol intake to the bare minimum.
- Reduce processed sugar to the bare minimum.
- Optimize hormone health, as low estrogen is associated with vaginal dryness, irritation, painful sex, and frequent vaginal and urinary infections.
- Don’t douche. It is best to wash your vulva with water only, and a gentle soap if wanted.
- Wipe front to back when you poop.
- Don’t wear thongs. Opt for boy shorts, briefs, bikinis, or commando.
- Use non-toxic period products.
- Skip the pill / IUD as both are linked to vaginal infections.
- Use non-toxic condoms.
- Don’t use spermicides.
- Rinse after oral sex. Take a few weeks off if symptomatic.
- Our vaginal mucosa loves fiber, probiotics, and vitamins A, C, E, and zinc. Since most of us are lacking in these nutrients, supplementation with a high-quality multi-vitamin can be incredibly helpful.
- Soothe - my herbal supplement for hormone health, as hormone changes are a big contributing factor to the health of the vaginal microbiome. The PH of our vagina naturally fluctuates throughout our cycle. To keep these fluctuations in a health range, I recommend all of the above and my organic herbal remedy for hormone health.
- I love this homeopathic formula.
- Use my formula, Bitters, for liver detoxification and gut support.
- Homemade vaginal suppository by Dr. Aviva Romm:
- 1 cup cocoa butter
- ½ cup coconut oil
- 3 tbsp. Calendula oil
- ⅛ tsp. Thyme essential oil
- ⅛ tsp. Lavender essential oil
- ⅛ tsp. Tea tree oil
- Include a probiotic, for 6-24 weeks, that includes Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus crispatus, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus. Duration depends on the severity of your current infection.
*Yoni is the Sanskrit word that reflects a sacred view of a woman's genitalia. It is symbolized as an inverted triangle.
*Lactobacillus is present in many, but not all, women. This is because the vaginal microbiome of a woman varies by ethnicity. So, some women do have lactobacillus present, but it’s not dominant, and some women don’t have this specific bacteria group present at all. Cool, right?
- What about Solosec? This drug, prescribed for the treatment of Bacterial vaginosis (BV), gets a thumbs down from me for a few reasons: it was only studied on 333 women; it can cause vaginal yeast infections that will also require a medication (the vicious cycle); the FDA labeled it a carcinogen, causing tumors in study mice, and they aren’t sure whether this would happen in humans after a single dose or via chronic usage. Sketchy. To be safe, don’t use a drug unless it has been on the market for at least 3 years. We aren’t guinea pigs!