Most women are not aware that vaginal health is such an important part of their overall health. Problems with the vagina can lead to issues that can affect your sex life, fertility, and your relationship. These changes can then lead to stress, lower your self-confidence, affect your mood and much more. So what affects vaginal health?
Unprotected intercourse can increase your risk of sexually transmitted infections or STIs, that can affect fertility rates by damaging your fallopian tubes. Also, vaginal trauma from rough sex can cause bruising and lacerations that may lead to painful intercourse later. Painful intercourse, known as dyspareunia, can occur with penetration or thrusting. It is important to distinguish when this happens because the cause and treatment may be different.
Anxiety and depression can affect your libido and result in discomfort during sex. Sexual abuse or painful sexual experience also can lead to pain associated with sex. A woman can experience involuntary contractions of the vagina during penetration called vaginismus that can be treated with medication, behavioral, and physical therapy.
Endometriosis is a condition where the lining of the uterus called the endometrium is found in the uterus. This can cause chronic pelvic pain and scarring of the pelvic structures leading to pain during intercourse. Pelvic inflammatory disease and surgery can also lead to scarring and pain.
Birth Control and Feminine Hygiene Products
Birth control such as diaphragms, condoms, spermicide, and lubricants can cause vaginal irritation. The use of sprays, deodorants, or douching can also cause irritation or make it worse. It is essential to eliminate or simplify products used to identify the cause and modify the birth control or products used.
Changes in hormone levels can occur during menopause, and if you're breastfeeding. A decrease in estrogen levels can cause vaginal dryness, itching, burning, and thinning of the vaginal walls. The use of a water-based lubricant and foreplay can help with vaginal dryness and decrease painful intercourse. Menopausal women can also be treated with vaginal estrogen to help alleviate some of these problems.
It is essential to identify the problems that you are having and to discuss them with your doctor. Safe sex practices, regular well-woman check-ups, and knowing the effects of the medication you are taking has on your vagina are steps that you can take to protect your vaginal and overall health.
Take care down there and in turn, you will be taking care everywhere!