Healthy Living

Healthy Vagina Tips: What’s Normal And What’s Not When It Comes To Your Vagina?

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Could subtle changes down there be indicative of an overall health condition? Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Vaginas. Although women have them, the majority of us don’t ever take an occasional peak just to see how things are going down there. This is unfortunate because, aside from, you know, the whole giving life to basically every human being on earth, vaginas are pretty good at telling you what’s going on with your overall health. So what could your lady parts be trying to tell you?

'Hey, There’s Something Going On With Your Hormones!'

Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers. They travel in your bloodstream to tissues and organs and can affect biological processes such as growth, metabolism, reproduction, and even mood, according to Medline Plus. Oftentimes, a hormone imbalance causes noticeable changes to the vagina such as abnormal bleeding and vaginal dryness.

These symptoms are almost guaranteed when women experience the sudden withdrawal of estrogen caused by menopause. If you are around the average age for menopause, which according to the National Institute on Aging is 51, then you shouldn’t worry too much about these symptoms. They are normal, but you still might want to speak with your doctor about ways to alleviate the symptoms. If you are nowhere near the average age for menopause, then you should definitely go to the doctor to see what’s going on. It may be an early onset of menopause, or the hormone imbalance may be indicative of another health issue.

'Um... I Think You Might Have An Infection'

Vaginas are naturally a bit acidic. It’s nature’s way of keeping the bad bacteria and germs at bay. Still, infections do happen, and often when the vagina becomes infected, a change in natural discharge may be one of the first signs. Vaginal discharge is inevitable, natural, and a much more pleasant option than the alternative of a dry vagina.

Discharge is triggered by estrogen levels in your body and will change in consistency through a woman’s cycle. It is usually clear and watery, or creamy and egg-white resembling, depending on the individual and where in her cycle she is. Vaginitis is an overall term used to describe a number of infections that may target a woman’s reproductive organ.

A yeast infection is one of the most common of these vaginal infections. It is characterized by not only a thick, white, and cottage cheese-resembling discharge, but also a burning or itching sensation. It is, of course, completely curable, but you are advised to seek medical help if you experience these symptoms, especially if it is your first yeast infection or if you’re not completely sure if what you’re experiencing is a yeast infection.

'It May Be Time To Change Your Medication'

Certain types of medication, whether it be antibiotics or birth control pills, can negatively affect the natural vaginal environment. Certain types of birth control pills are linked to vaginal dryness due to their hormonal effect on the body. This can cause sex to be painful, but the problem is usually corrected by switching medication. The wrong type of birth control pills with “increased estrogens levels can increase a woman’s susceptibility to vaginal yeast,” Dr. Saul Weinreb, a gynecologist at MedStar Franklin Square Hospital in Baltimore, told EveryDayHealth.

Some medicines also have the rather uncomfortable side effect of a yeast infection. This is because medication can “reduce your body’s natural bacterial flora, which has antifungal properties, giving more space for fungi like candida to grow,” Weinreb explained. The doctor suggests that if you suspect that either your birth control or medication is giving you a yeast infection to tell your doctor who will most likely be able to prescribe “an equally effective alternative.”

'Don’t Freak Out, But You Should See A Doctor ASAP'

Cervical cancer is a cancer that forms in the tissue of the cervix. Each year, there are about 12,000 new cases, and of those, about a third pass from the devastating illness. A PAP smear or an HPV test are the most popular and most effective ways to spot the cancer in its early stages, but sometimes your vagina can give certain signs that things aren’t quite right down below. Unfortunately, these visible symptoms of cervical cancer usually do not appear until after the pre-cancer stage, and it then becomes invasive, but it’s still never too late to seek medical help. Common signs of cervical cancer may be abnormal bleeding, such as bleeding after sex, in between periods, or much longer and heavier periods, unusual discharge that may be bloody, and pain during sex.

If you experience any of these symptoms, don’t panic. They could be caused by other conditions, such as an infection. Still, it’s important to see a doctor right away if you experience any of these problems. 

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