If she could speak to you, your vagina would be pretty proud to be yours. Though they come in all shapes and sizes, and no one is more attractive than another, vaginas still need our attention and TLC. Though this is true 365 days a year, it’s especially important in the hottest, stickiest days of summer. Since so many factors play into the health and balance of our most intimate areas; including wet bathing suits, sand, and sugary-drinks. When the sun is out, you want to be comfortable and breezy, without having to worry about any messiness or pain downstairs. Here, vagina experts (yep, that’s a thing) give their best advice on how to be the best BFF to your lady bits:
You might notice a change in scent
Certified sex coach, sexologist and author, Gigi Engle says our vaginas are great at self-cleaning, so they don’t exactly change in the summer. Most of the time, she will work her own magic to balance pH and bacteria, no matter the forecast outside. That being said, like any part of the human body, Engle says our downstairs may shift in scent as the heat rises. “Vaginas are not scentless,” she continues. “There are two big camps with sexual wellness companies: embrace the pussy smell or use deodorizers to ‘freshen it.’ No matter what though, remember vaginas and vulvas smell, especially in sweaty, warm climates.”
If you’re anxious about your own aroma, Engle recommend 100-percent lavender (or whatever scent you like) essential oil to create a nicer smell. You should only apply this on the outside of your vulva, and she urges folks to check the ingredients in case there are any harmful ingredients. “Keep in mind it’s a natural antibacterial agent, so contact with the vaginal flora could be a detriment to your health,” she adds.
You might be more prone to infection
Any type of diagnosis on your vagina isn’t just uncomfortable to digest but the symptoms can be painful. Sarah Bedell, a TopLink MD, OB-GYN says one of the biggest culprits of vaginal mayhem in the summer is heat. Not only are women more prone to sweating than men are, but we tend to perspire everywhere—including the skin around the vulva. “Excess sweat in that area can harbor bacteria and yeast, thereby making it easier to have a bothersome vaginal infection like a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis,” she explains. When you consider sweat that’s been hanging out all day as you sightsee in Europe or sweat from an outdoor run that’s now dried as you wander the farmer’s market—there are many activities when you’re at risk.
You might want to wear cotton undies
To protect yourself from sweat, grime, or water getting lodged in areas where it shouldn’t, Dr. Bedell suggests taking a hard look at your undies drawer. While silk and satin may be soft-to-the-touch, cotton is your best defense against summer vagina issues. Not only is this the best way to protect yourself, but you can decrease the likelihood of any tricky symptoms by picking white or a lightly-colored pair of underwear. How come? She says they’re faster to dry and keep you cool. Though you should always feel empowered to wear whatever-the-hell you want, a little wind does your lady bit some good, so a skirt every-now-and-then is recommended by Dr. Bedell.
You might want to wash with warm water
Repeat after Engle: Do not douche or shoot water up your vagina. Even if you’re anxious about a lingering smell, when you do this, she says you disrupt the natural, good yeast and bacteria that protects you from infections—whether yeast or bacterial. And we hate to break the news to you, but that sort of diagnosis will only make any smell more intense. “If you want to freshen up a sweaty vagina, take regular showers,” she recommends. “And I mean, really get in there and rinse the entire folds of the labia, pubic hair and clitoral glands.”
You might need to drink more water.
Happy hour cocktails on the rooftop, a bucket of beer on the beach, white wine at BBQs—these are all fun ways to booze the season away. But, these drinks are also dehydrating and full of sugar. For the health of your girl downstairs, try your best to hydrate as much as possible. And if you can skip a second serving of french fries, do it. As board-certified medical doctor Janette Nesheiwat, MD explains, hydration is essential to maintain moisture, and what we eat impacts our pH balance. The same is true if you are putting stress on your body with sickness or worry over travel plans or being out of the office. “If you just completed a course of antibiotics, this can alter the normal vaginal flora resulting in a yeast infection. Sometimes, sexual activity, stress or a poor diet can lead to a common condition called bacterial vaginosis,” she warns.
Functional medicine and nurse practitioner Maggie Berghoff also suggests decreasing your sugar and simple carb intake during the summer, too. “These items can cause inflammation and overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut and vaginal lining,” she notes.
You might want to get naked, fast
Ready for an afternoon delight with a cutie or your SO? Sure, if that floats your boat. But for the health of your vagina, Engle says it’s smart to change out of sticky workout pants or bathing suits ASAP. This will lower your risk for any issues—and you’ll definitely be more comfortable when you’ve washed off the sweat, salt, or chlorine. “Don’t wear spandex workout pants or bathing suits for too long. This will hold moisture around the vulva and vagina, throwing off the pH and causing a yeast infection … and a funky odor,” she shares.
You might need a probiotic
As another team player going to bat for your vagina, probiotics can be a solid way to keep yourself healthy, according to Berghoff. She says to look for one with 250 billion CFUs (colonating factor units) for maintenance and one with multiple strains. “You will know if it has multiple strains by looking at the ingredient label and being sure it consists of at least five different types of probiotics in the supplement,” she explains. This is important because our vaginal health is directly related to our digestive tract—so when your tummy is happy and functioning properly, so is your gal.