So the universe has decided to give you all the features that would define you as a woman. You have wide hips created to mesmerise the opposite sex while you walk, a chest filled with mammary glands which give you the ability to produce milk, and last but by no means the least, a canal for the transport of a new generation into this world, the vagina. The vagina is seen as a source of power, pleasure and pain and is praised and cursed by many. However, for something that has been a part of history since the dawn of time, how well do we really know it?
Obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Kevin Henry, B.MedSci, MBBS, DM OBGYN, sat with Flair to give us the 411 on the life of the vagina. This 6 feet 5 inches walking encyclopaedia of the famed lady parts answered a few frequently asked questions that he gets from his patients.
So Doc, how should the vagina smell?
It may not have any smell at all and most times it should have a natural smell. In the same way you have your natural body scent, that is how the vagina generally will smell. If there is any other odour, like a fishy odour, raw scent or something that smells offensive, that would suggest that there is an additional problem. That would need to be checked out by a medical professional or a gynaecologist.
Are you supposed to pee before and after intercourse?
Yes, you should. When you pee before and after, it cleanses out your urethra – that’s the tube that carries the urine outside and that decreases the risk of you getting a urinary tract infection from having sex.
Should the vagina itch before or after your period?
No. You should not have any itching in the vagina at all. If there is an itch before or after your period, then that suggests that you might have a yeast infection which is commonly associated with the vagina. This usually happens around the time of the period because of the hormonal changes that occur with your period.
How do you know when it is not just a yeast infection?
Typically, for a yeast infection, the discharge is white or cream coloured. It’s very clumpy or lumpy looking. It tends to be heavy and look like cottage cheese and there is usually itching on the inside or the outside of the vagina. There is usually a rash outside of the vagina, which is because of the irritation from the discharge. If the discharge is any other colour from cream, if it is red, yellow, or looks like pus, it is possibly a sign of an infection.
Is the vagina self-cleaning or not?
Yes, it is one of the unique things about the vagina, that it cleans itself. The vagina has several organisms within it that allow it to maintain its natural pH and clean itself. It is recommended that women should wash/clean the outside of the vagina and between the labia. There is no need to clean deep inside the vagina because that will remove the normal organisms that help to keep the vagina healthy.
What are the things doctors do not recommend for the vagina?
Women should not use wipes, tissues, pad or liners with any fragrance because that also changes the pH, which can cause more infections.
Does the vagina lose tightness?
It varies from woman to woman. The vagina is a remarkable organ so the tissues inside the vagina are able to recoil and regroup very well. For the most part, the vagina will return eventually to its normal ‘tightness’ or level of elasticity.
Story by: Latara Boodie
Photo by: Ricardo Makyn