Fri | Sep 21, 2018

How food impacts the vagina

Published:Wednesday | May 13, 2015 | 12:00 AM

It is important that women pay close attention to the foods they eat because what they consume can actually affect their vagina. And there are telltale signs. Ever notice that your urine has a different scent after consuming certain things? Or that you are having recurring yeast infection?

Healthy vaginas have a naturally acidic pH, as well as a host of healthy bacteria that ward off infections and keep this important part of the female body in proper working order. But according to expert gynaecologists, the foods women eat can influence the pH, changing the way the vagina smells and even tastes.

Foods such as spices, onions, coffee, garlic, red meat, dairy products, asparagus, broccoli, alcohol and sugar can all affect the natural balance of the vagina. Meanwhile, fruits and fruit juices may actually turn things especially sweet, noted Mary Rosser, MD, PhD, ob-gyn at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, United States.

The effects of these foods on the vagina, she said, can last for two to three days after they are consumed.




Interestingly, sugar tends to be the worst culprit for the vagina, experts are saying, as the substance can contribute to candida overgrowth. Candida is a genus of yeasts and is the most common cause of fungal infections, such as yeast infection that women commonly experience. Antibiotics and a high sugar diet are the two most common causes of candida.

In fact, experts are saying the modern diet is like a feast for candida, since it is a yeast that needs sugar to thrive and multiply. That includes sugar itself, foods containing sugar and anything that converts to sugar. Refined carbohydrates like processed food made with white flour, other refined grains and alcohol can all contribute to candida growth.

Women with uncontrolled, high blood sugar due to diabetes may be at an increased risk for yeast infections, Rosser also noted.

"Yeast is a fungus that lives in warm, moist, dark environments. The vagina is such a place. This fungus, which is always present in the vagina in small amounts, is fed by sugar (glucose) so when a woman's blood sugar is elevated, her vagina is a perfect environment for the yeast to live, be fed and grow. Symptoms include itching, burning or pain during urination or intercourse," said the expert.

The best advise for a healthy vagina: women must watch what they eat; drastically cut down on sugar intake; stay away from high-sugar products; and consume plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and an adequate amount of water.

"If you like Greek yogurt, all the better. Yogurt with live and active cultures are probiotics and may be involved in helping the vagina maintain a healthy acidic pH and balance," Rosser stated.