Debina Bonnerjee shares why you must ‘not ignore vaginal health’

While the importance of taking care of your skin, fitness, and overall well-being is regularly talked about, not enough emphasis is given to a woman’s vaginal health. If not taken proper care of, your vagina can become a breeding ground for infections. Highlighting the same, Debina Bonnerjee took to her YouTube channel – Debina Decodes – to share why you must ‘not ignore vaginal health’.

Alongside the video, the actor-vlogger wrote, “Vaginal health should always be a top priority for each one of us. How to maintain a healthy vagina and prevent infections and itching, maintain vaginal pH balance, why using an intimate wash is important, how to use it properly, what are the steps etc. It’s important to keep your intimate area clean and healthy and this video will answer all your questions about intimate hygiene!”

While many women are aware of the importance of focusing on their vaginal health, they often hesitate to discuss the same. Addressing the same, Debina said, “I know there are so many of us who feel a kind of hesitation to address the problem they have in their intimate area. What happens then is you have more problems and discomfort.”

She added that the stigma attached to the intimate area makes people not come forward and talk about the same. “People avoid it or keep it hidden. But, why not? When we bring a baby into the world through the vagina, then why don’t we talk about our intimate area health? What is so taboo about it?” she asked, adding that it’s very important to take care of intimate area hygiene.

However, before jumping onto the solution, she explained what exactly intimate hygiene is and why it’s important. “Our intimate area is very delicate and some bacteria live in it naturally. They are good bacteria and are called lactobacilli. These good bacteria survive between pH balance 3.5 and 4.5,” she explained.

This bacteria produces lactic acid which prevents our intimate area from bacteria, she added. But, what happens when this pH balance gets disturbed? Debina shared that it gets disturbed during pregnancy, post-delivery hormonal changes, periods, and excessive sweating. This leads to “itching, irritation, dryness, and even infections.”

While most women normally use water and soap to clean their intimate areas, the actor shared that since the soap’s pH is high, it disturbs the pH balance of the delicate vaginal area. “It is recommended by RCOG to use products that have lactic acid,” she said.

To maintain overall vaginal hygiene, she suggested avoiding alcohol-based cleansers, deodorants and polyester underwear. “It’s my suggestion to always keep it clean, free from hair so that there’s no scope for the bacteria to get multiplied,” Debina said.

Talking about the same, Dr Sushruta Mokadam, Senior Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Kharadi, Pune said that vaginal issues can have an impact on fertility, desire for sex, and capacity to achieve orgasm. “Persistent vaginal health difficulties can lead to stress, relationship troubles, and a loss of self-confidence,” she said.

Dr Mokadam suggested contacting your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

*A variation in the colour, odour, or quantity of vaginal discharge.
*Itching or redness in the vaginal area.
*Vaginal bleeding during menstruation, after intercourse, or after menopause.
*A lump or bulge in the vaginal region.
*Intercourse discomfort.

The expert said that the vagina is essentially a self-cleaning organ which an acidic pH value of about 4.5, maintained by the Lactobacillus species which breaks down glycogen in the tissues to release hydrogen peroxide. “This pH keeps opportunistic infections at bay. In case of antibiotic use and alkaline pH secondary to over-enthusiastic use of soap, the Lactobacillus needs to be readministered in the form of probiotics and lactic acid wash. Thus, you may take precautions to preserve your vaginal and general health,” Dr Mokadam said.