You won’t be surprised to know that the most common new year resolution is ‘getting healthier’ and all the different variations that come with it (losing weight, eating better, doing more exercise etc). In fact, in 2018 a YouGov poll showed that the most common resolutions for last year were:
And we suspect, most new years resolutions for 2019 will be similar.
If you’re like us and are ready to make 2019 a healthier one, there are a few exercise and nutrition tips for maintaining a healthy vagina worth knowing.
Nutrition tips for better vaginal health
Nutrition has a huge impact on your overall health, even that of your vagina. Below are a few foods you should include in your diet to support a balanced PH.
Why is this important? A balanced vaginal pH needs to stay in the range of 3.8 to 4.5 and if it stays out of balance for too long, bacteria have a chance to thrive and cause discomfort and various infections.
Cranberry: Fresh cranberries or 100% cranberry juice (not the sweetened stuff) are full of antioxidants and acidic compounds, which can help fight infections and stop bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall.
Studies show (1) that cranberries can be especially beneficial in preventing urinary tract infections (UTIs) in women with chronic UTIs or recent UTI issues.
Probiotics: Probiotic-rich food, such as fermented foods like kimchi and yoghurt, are good for more than just your gut, they have the same bacteria to help maintain your vaginal PH balanced and ward off infections.
Moreover, calcium (greatly present in yoghurt) has been shown to help with PMS symptoms (4).
Sources of probiotics include:
Sweet potatoes: Contain high amounts of vitamin A which contributes to healthy vaginal and uterine walls and helps us produce the hormones we need to stay vibrant and energized.
Sweet potatoes are especially good for women trying to get pregnant as studies have shown that beta-carotene and vitamin A in sweet potatoes have positive effects on fertility and reproduction (2) in both men and women, as well as healthy fetal development (3).
Avocados: High in healthy fats, vitamin B-6, and potassium, Avocadoes have positive effects on your libido as well as enhance lubrication and estrogen levels, strengthen vaginal walls, and may even increase IVF success due to its unsaturated fats.
Omega-3 fatty acids: Similarly to Avocados, omega-3 fatty acids help with circulation and blood flow which results in a higher sex drive. Moreover, these essential fatty acids, as well as others found in sea buckthorn oil, like palmitoleic, linoleic, oleic, and palmitic, were shown (5) to help with vaginal dryness in postmenopausal women.
Hot chillies: They contain capsaicin, which improves blood circulation and stimulates nerve endings which is good for arousal.
Dark chocolate: The high-flavonoid kind (70% cocoa) is a great source of antioxidants and women who eat at least a square a day report increased desire and better overall sexual function. Chocolate is also rich in magnesium (which soothes nerves), methylxanthines (boosts libido) and phenylalanine, an amino acid that produces dopamine (the feel-good chemical).
Track changes in your menstrual cycle
As you increase activity, you’re likely to experience some abnormalities with your menstrual cycle. Don’t worry. This is completely normal and your body needs time to adjust.
There are many factors that can affect your menstrual cycle, stress (mental and physical) being one of the most popular.
The stress that intense physical activity places on your body can affect the hormones responsible for your periods, especially if you suddenly start exercising and working out. Losing too much body fat through intense exercise can also stop you ovulating.
It’s worth noting that a menstrual period is considered late if it hasn’t started 5 or more days after the day you expected it to start.
Tracking your menstrual cycle for a few months will help you understand if everything is normal or if you should see your doctor.
Be mindful of your post-workout routine:
Choose the right underwear for your workout
Pretty undergarments are usually made of materials that can cause irritation when exercising.
According to Alyssa Dweck, M.D., author of “The Complete A to Z for Your V”, the best underwear for workouts will be made of either cotton or a moisture-wicking synthetic (6).
Also, pay attention to the size of your underwear. “The tighter it is, the more it’s going to uphold against your vulva and potentially trap moisture, bacteria, and sweat that can lead to infection.
A good way of knowing if your underwear is too tight is to check for indentation lines on your skin. Also, if you put on undies and instantly feel restricted—rather than supported— they’re probably too small.
Wash (and dry) off after exercise and change clothes
While some people can hit the gym hard and stay in their workout clothes all day with no problem, in general, it’s always best to get out of your wet, sweaty gym clothes as soon as possible, especially if you’re prone to yeast infections or vaginal irritation.
Try to wash and dry your vulva (the outside part of your vagina) as microbes thrive in moist environments.
If you can’t shower directly at the gym or shortly after, at least change into dry clothes and try to rinse off once you get home. Avoid antibacterial soap or anything with perfume as they can disrupt the pH of your vagina.
Give your vagina a chance to breathe in a dry, clean place.
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that everyone is different and some will need to take more care than others. If you have sensitive skin or tend to get infections, following these guidelines could help prevent future problems.