Sometimes a little voice inside you tells you something might be wrong with your vagina. It’s your vagina– you don’t really want to talk about it, ask about it, or stress about it. Depending on your parents’ style, you might not even have someone you can go to if you’re worried (I would rather poll my entire school before ever asking my mom about anything having to do with sex). Making sure that your body is healthy, though, should be a priority for you. Everyone is different, so your diet, personal hygiene, and sex practices may affect your vagina differently than it would your friends’.
I’m one of the lucky women who gets urinary tract infections on a regular basis (yay). In the beginning, I couldn’t talk to my mom about it, and my friends weren’t really much help. Learning to be open with my doctor about my “vaginal situation” was important for me to stop suffering from that awful UTI pain. If you’re sensing anything out of the ordinary down there, you’re probably experiencing some sort of infection that can be cured with antibiotics.
Wearing cotton underwear, taking probiotics, having safe sex, and only using mild soap are all ways that you can keep your vagina feeling good. But what if it isn’t feeling good? How do you know when it’s time to call a doctor? Here are some things to look out for if you’re worried that your vagina is unhealthy:
You Notice More Discharge Than NormalThe two sexually transmitted diseases connected to abnormal discharge are chlamydia and gonorrhea. Both of these STIs are easily cured with antibiotics but should be treated immediately. A change in discharge could also point to a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis (BV). Normal discharge should be clear, cloudy white, or yellowish. Source: iStock
Sex Is PainfulPain is your body's way of alerting you that something is wrong. While pain during sex could mean that you didn't have enough foreplay or didn't use lube (that's an easy fix!), it could also point to a condition called Endometriosis. That means that the tissue that usually lines the inside of your vagina grows outside. Genital herpes, trichomoniasis, and yeast infections could also make sex uncomfortable. Source: iStock
It's Difficult And/Or Painful To Put In A TamponWhile you might just be tensing up while inserting your tampon (you need to relax, girl!), pain during insertion could also be a symptom of vaginal cysts. However, don't panic. As long as it's not cancerous, it doesn't need to be removed unless it is causing severe symptoms. Source: iStock
You Are Very Dry Down ThereCalled "cotton vagina" on Urban Dictionary, a dry vagina is not healthy. Most women don't experience drying until menopause, but there are a few reasons it could be happening to you at a younger age. According to Dr. Julie Holland, allergy medicines and smoking weed prevent the mucus membranes from producing lubricants that make sex more comfortable. If you feel that your lower region is more parched than usual, talk to your gynecologist. Source: iStock
You Smell An Unfamiliar Odor From Your VaginaWashing in the shower should be enough to clean your vagina, so if you're still smelling yourself, it might be an imbalance of the bacteria. If it's smelly, don't use perfume, douches, or strong soaps because that will remove the good bacteria. Your vagina might be unhealthy if the odor doesn't go away and you've had unprotected sex. Source: iStock
You've Had Unprotected SexListen- it happens. If you've had unprotected sex, though, you should do the responsible thing and get tested. Source: iStock
Your Vagina ItchesAn itchy vagina is uncomfortable and NOT NORMAL. So many girls just ignore it because they don't know what's going on (I know that I usually just hope that the itching goes away on its own.) An itchy vagina could be a sign of a yeast infection or a byproduct using too large of a size of tampon. Try only using the size of tampon that you need for the amount of blood flow you're experiencing. Source: iStock
You Feel A Mass Or Bulge In Your VaginaSometimes you'll be feeling around down there and notice a lump in your vagina. It could just be an ingrown hair, but it might something more serious. I have a friend who has a cyst in her vagina that she has to get drained by her doctor to prevent discomfort during sex- not fun! Always tell your doctor if you find any masses in your vagina. Source: iStock
Do you have any advice for knowing if your vagina is unhealthy? Help us all out by letting us know in the comments below!