Tips And Advice On Feminine Hygiene & Care From Dr. Tlale

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Having been a qualified and practicing specialist Obstetrician and Gynecologists for over 10 years, Dr. K.J. Tlale holds a lot of insights and knowledge on women’s health issues and feminine care.

She shares her tips on how women can take care of their feminine hygiene and what to look out for to help prevent infections and illnesses. She debunks the myths around using particular products that promote better hygiene in the female parts.

On the use of feminine washes, vaginal steaming and pearls

Most women are cautious of their hygiene. They will use anything that is said to be good for vaginal hygiene. Most of the washes do not solve the problem permanently. They are usually fragranced, and that good smell lasts for a short while, but does not remove the main problem. It is important for women to know the vagina takes care of its day to day problems and cleanses itself. Only when the problem is serious then does one need to seek help to deal with the actual cause.

When it comes to the Yoni steaming and pearls, looking at what they are claimed to help with is unfortunately not true for problems inside the body like fibroids, endometriosis, and cysts. On the outside, they can relieve symptoms of inflammation (redness and swelling), bad smell and itchiness temporarily.

Remember most ingredients used are herbs which mostly have an effect as natural remedies, for example lavender, tea tree, turmeric, oregano, and garlic are natural antiseptics.

As a gynecologist and woman, the tips I would give to women to ensure their lady parts are clean and healthy are:
  • Wash with non-fragranced soaps, avoid foam baths and bath salts because in most cases they are the ones that cause fungal infection (candida)
  • Avoid underwear made from synthetic material like nylon, polyester and spandex because the materials trap heat and moisture which is where fungi is likely to grow.
  • Stop putting fingers up the vagina. Most women have the tendency to stick their fingers in the vagina to wash it. That act is unnecessary except when there is an irritation/ itchiness only to see if there any discharge clogged up in the vagina and not showing on the panty. In this way knowing when to get the discharge treated.
  • Avoid eating lots of sugary foods as this becomes a source of fungal infection.
  • Good hygiene during menstrual periods is key. Washing of hands before and after changing sanitary wear is mandatory.
  • Eating plain yoghurt twice or three times a week or any form f probiotic containing food assists in putting fungal infection at bay.
  • When it comes to bacterial infections, the use of condoms protects from a lot of sexually transmitted infections, married or not married. If there is a previous infection and suspicion of unfaithfulness from the partner, usage must be insisted on, supported by interaction with one partner.
  • Be aware the vagina cleanses itself of minor problems especially after intimacy but if the smell or irritation continues for more than three to five days, then one must seek medical attention.
The risk of using some creams, sprays and washes

However good some of these natural products may be, they pose some risks, especially if used in large quantities. For example, garlic increases the risk of bleeding whereas others cause interaction with some drugs (medicines). On the other hand, the washes take away the “good” microorganisms in and around the vagina and give organisms like fungi (candida) an opportunity to flourish when used frequently. I always advise the ladies to use a wash occasionally, say when one has a date and is feeling uneasy with their vaginal odour.

Natural foods that help with feminine and vaginal health

There is a saying that goes “you are what you eat”. There are some foods that can help maintain vaginal health and hygiene. One of the common problem’s women face is vaginal thrush/ fungal infection as addressed above. The best way to deal with it is to try preventing it from starting. This can be achieved by eating prebiotics, which are foods that make probiotics.

These include leeks, onion, garlic, oats, bananas and soybeans plus fermented food or beverages. These can be aided by ingestion of the good bacteria that is called lactobacilli found in fermented food, for example, yoghurt, kombucha, pickles and other prepared lactobacilli forms. All these helps maintain the vaginal pH normal.

For the feel-good benefits, talking about vaginal lubrication and increased libido in general, the ingredients that are essential to include in one’s diet are vitamins, usually sourced from fruits, vegetables, and fish.   When looking at vitamins, we have vitamin A, C and E found in all the bright or colorful fruits like oranges, pineapple, pawpaw.

We also have, carrots, garlic, olives and can move to salmon and oysters, plus Greek yoghurt. The vitamins help with circulation and increase one’s ability to orgasm. So, ladies, let’s start playing our part and work towards happy relationships. It is our call.

Debunking common myths about the vagina

Women have a lot they think about the vagina and how they should be caring for it. The desperation to keep their partners happy makes them listen and believe everything that has to do with improving their performance during intimacy. For example, there is a belief that to tighten the vaginal muscles they should wash with certain soaps and use Coca Cola. These do not improve anything at all. The main thing that works is strengthening the vaginal (perineal) muscles.

This is achieved by doing Kegel exercises as often as possible, not forgetting to also pull them in during intimacy. Adequate vaginal lubrication during intimacy also helps to enjoy the activity. For those having vaginal dryness problems, medical help can be sought, or simple usage of water based lubricating substances may be of assistance.

Symptoms and signs of infection

It is important to know that the vagina has the ability to care for itself and to cleanse itself of minor problems that come up. The mild, white, non-offensive vaginal discharge that most women experience, especially just before or after their menstruation or after bouts of intimacy comes from the self-cleansing.

The discharge can have a smell occasionally and this lasts for less than 5 days. Anything beyond this timeframe or a change in color to yellowish, greenish or brownish; if it is in copious amount and itchy should be for medical attention.

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