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Healthy Vaginas

A healthy vagina is as clean and pure as a carton of yoghurt...

Now there's a statement to combat some of the negative messages we have received about our nether regions. We are often taught that our vaginas are dirty and germ filled - generally not a nice place to go. But in fact as Dr Hillier from the Magee-Womans hospital in Pittsburgh states a "healthy vagina is as clean and pure as a carton of yoghurt". from Woman An Intimate Geography by Natalie Angier.

A healthy vagina is a self regulating system and is cleaner than our mouths and much much cleaner than our rectums. The vaginal ecosystem is a mutually advantageous relationship between the vagina itself and the micro-organisms that inhabit it.

Your vagina is full of life in the form of bacteria but these are good bacteria fighting the good battle to keep bad bacteria out of your reproductive system. These good bacteria are called lactobacilli which are the same organisms found in yoghurt. In a healthy vagina these lactobacilli maintain a acidic environment - around 3.8 - 4.5 pH ( a little bit more acidic than black coffee which has a pH of 5).

Vaginal mucus is "made up of the same things found in blood serum, the clear, thin, sticky liquid that remains behind when the solid components of blood, like clotting factors, are separated away. Vaginal discharge consists of water, albumin - the most abundant protein in the body - a few stray white blood cells, and mucin, the oily substance that gives the vagina and cervix their slippery sheen. Discharge is not dirt, certainly, and it is not a toxic waste product of the body in the sense of urine and faeces. No, no, no,. It is the same substance as what is inside the vagina, neither better nor worse, pulled down because we're bipedal and gravity exists, and because on occasion the cup runneth over."page 53 - 4 Woman, an intimate Geography by Natalie Angier

What about smell?? We have all heard the jokes that compare our private parts to fish. A healthy vagina has a slightly sweet pungent odour. If it smells anymore pungent than this or takes on a fishy odour then this is usually a sign that the delicate balance has been upset and the Lactobacilli (good bacteria) are losing the battle.

There are numerous things that can upset the balance in the vagina and lead to the smelly condition called bacterial vaginosis.

The basics of maintaining a healthy Vagina

 

Written by Nadia MacLeod