Don't ignore these symptoms.
An unhealthy vagina is a vagina that isn't given the attention it deserves. The vagina needs to be given the same hygienic attention as any other part of your body.
"Between urine, sweat and being so close to the anus, cleaning the vagina regularly is critical to prevent dirty bacterial buildup and to avoid the offensive odors that develop throughout the day... Debris build-up in the labia grooves from not washing the vagina well can be called 'smegma.' The point is. women get it as easily as men," says Sheryl A. Ross, M.D.
"An unhealthy vagina does not visit the gynecologist to get the appropriate check up yearly or have sexually transmitted infection testing between partners. An unhealthy vagina does not get the HPV vaccine before becoming sexually active or a pap smear when turning 21 years old," Dr. Sherry says.
Astroglide's resident sexologist Dr. Jess, PhD, says if you notice a change in the color or odor of your regular discharge, see sores or blisters on your vulva, experience pain or itchiness in your pelvic region, or penetration is painful even with adequate arousal and lubrication, you should absolutely see a doctor.
So ladies, if you're experiencing any of these problems, you may have an unhealthy vagina and should seek medical attention.
1. Vaginal dryness or irritation.
Vaginal dryness and irritation can be a signs of an unhealthy vagina especially due to menopause, says gynecologist Ronald D. Blatt, M.D. Menopause can create these symptoms, both inside and outside of the vagina, which may involve skin flaking and irritation associated with mature skin. This can lead to uncomfortable intercourse as well.
2. A fishy odor.
A healthy vagina will have its own fragrance, but how can you tell if the smell is healthy or not?
"A fishy odor with extra clear discharge can be a sign of BV, bacterial vaginosis, that is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria and an imbalance of the pH balance of the vagina. BV is very common and easily treatable with antibiotics from your gynecologist. Natural remedies include apple cider vinegar douche and changes in diet. A strong odor with green discharge can be a sign of an STD, trichomoniasis, so you should get tested immediately," says Psalm Isadora, a sex and relationship expert.
3. Itching or irregular discharge.
If you have discharge that looks like cottage cheese and has a yellow or white consistency, you may have a yeast infection.
"This is caused by a fungal infection and overgrowth of yeast, and can be caused by taking antibiotics, unbalanced pH, wearing tight non-breathable underwear or clothing, douching, or an unhealthy diet too high in sugars. You can get over-the-counter creams, pills and suppositories, but recurring yeast infections mean you will have to make changes in your diet and cut back on sugars and alcohol," says Isadora.
Drinking water and eating yogurt are natural remedies to help prevent and treat yeast infections.
4. Burning sensations when urinating.
This can be a sign of UTI (urinary tract infection) and is often caused by sex. These are also readily treatable with antibiotics.
5. Inability to insert tampons.
"Painful sex is usually a psychological issue, but in rare cases it's an imperforate hymen — women born with extra tissue around the opening of the vagina," says Isadora. This can be diagnosed by a gynecologist and treated with surgery.
6. Painful blisters.
This is usually a sign of the sexually transmitted disease, Herpes. You should immediately get tested.
7. You have irregular bleeding.
Bleeding or spotting that occurs when you're not menstruating can be a hormonal imbalance often caused by birth control methods or stress, says Isadora. It can also be a sign of pregnancy. Bleeding after sex can be a sign of cervical cancer, and you should see your gynecologist right away.
8. Continual vaginal infections.
If your vagina seems angry and you're getting frequent yeast infections, bacterial infections or UTIs, you might need to give your vagina a break.
"Sometimes she is trying to tell you that she is unhappy with the way you are treating her. Maybe you are in an unhealthy relationship, or your partner might be having other partners and bringing problems back to you. Take a pause and give her a break; try and eat healthy, and have less stress," says Isadora.
Your vagina will get back in balance in no time and will thank you for it.