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Tips on how you should take care of your private parts

By Faeza
27 June 2016

TALKING to other people, including your doctor, about your private part may not be

your favourite thing to do – it might make you feel rather uncomfortable or embarrassed – but looking after its wellbeing should be a priority for any woman.

IT’S A SELF-CLEANSING ORGAN

There is no need to use harsh soaps or cleaning products to keep your private part fresh and clean. All that’s required is a good rinse with clear, warm water during your bath or shower. Soap and body-wash can dry out the sensitive skin around the vulva. Your private part has everything it needs to stay in good shape. It also hosts a wide variety of beneficial bacteria which work hard to produce natural infection-fighting antibiotics and outnumber any invading bad bacteria, and help to keep things well lubricated. The private part secretes small quantities of a clear or white, mucuslike discharge to cleanse itself. The

nature and amount of this discharge may vary somewhat through your menstrual cycle, typically becoming thicker and more stretchy as you approach ovulation.

DRESS COMFORTABLY

Make sure that your private part stays dry and clean throughout the day by wearing comfortably fitting cotton underwear and avoiding thongs.

Also keep things loose and well ventilated by not wearing tight-fitting clothes and choosing breathable fabrics instead of ones that will raise the temperature and

moisture levels, like polyester.

PRACTISE SAFER SEX

Protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV, gonorrhoea, chlamydia, genital wards, syphilis and genital herpes by using condoms during sex.

Research has shown that condom use also helps to keep your private part’s pH levels healthy. In addition, it prevents harmful bacteria from entering the body during intercourse.

TREAT INFECTIONS

There are some vaginal infections which may cause symptoms such as irritation, itching and abnormal discharges. They should be treated as soon as they are spotted. If you don’t do this, you are exposing yourself to the risk of unpleasant and painful side effects, and may even be faced with more serious reproductive health problems in the long run. Speak to your doctor whenever you suspect that you have contracted an infection

HEALTHY FOOD

It may sound a little strange, but some foods are thought to contribute to vaginal health.

Cranberry juice and Greek yoghurt may help in preventing and treating yeast infections.

Soy products, plenty of water, apples and avocados may counter dryness and stimulate natural lubrication. Sweet potatoes, almonds, garlic and pumpkin seeds are also believed to be beneficial.

LUBE UP

When a woman is sexually aroused, her private part lubricates itself naturally. In some instances, however, the process is insufficient and certain medicines, such as antidepressants, birth control pills and antihistamines, may also reduce its effectiveness. To overcome this problem and prevent the skin of the private part from becoming chafed or irritated during sex, and to make the experience more pleasurable,

use plenty of vaginal lubricant. Don’t use petroleum jelly or similar oil-based products as they can lead to infection and cause the rubber in condoms to break.

BEWARE OF ANTIBIOTICS

Antibiotic drugs are a vital part of modern medicine, but you should only use them under advice from your doctor. Whenever you take antibiotics, be sure to eat plenty of probiotic yoghurt to help counter any negative effects.

USE COMMON SENSE

Following a good hygiene routine will go a long way to ensuring a healthy private part. During your period, change tampons and sanitary pads regularly.

WHY AND WHEN YOU SHOULD VISIT A GYNAECOLOGIST

A gynaecologist is a doctor who specialises in the health of the female reproductive system as well as the breasts. Ideally, girls should make their first appointment to visit a gynaecologist between the ages of 13 and 15, and certainly once they become sexually active. From then on, annual checkups are crucial to maintaining reproductive health.

You should definitely visit your gynaecologist if:

¦ You’re experiencing problems with your period, including heavier and longer bleeding than usual or a lot of pain;

¦ You have stomach or pelvic pain, fever and a strong-smelling yellow, grey or green vaginal discharge;

¦ It’s been three months or more since your last period;

¦ You experience pain during sex;

¦ Or you’ve had unprotected sex with a new partner.