Know the vagina like the back of your hand, doctors urge

At their activation "The Vagina Shop" held at both Wits and Johannesburg universities recently, healthcare company Adcock Ingram revealed that young men and women know very little about the vagina.

Adcock featured its GynaGuard feminine hygiene products at its workshop to teach students about the importance of taking care of their lady parts.

"For too long, feminine hygiene has been limited to focusing on periods, sex education, and maybe one or two other elements. However, very little attention has been placed on things like ensuring the optimum vaginal pH, using products designed for everyday usage, and not using generic soap for vaginal healthcare," said Tebatso Tebeila, a medical doctor at Adcock Ingram.

Also, young women feel uncomfortable when it comes to requesting information for intimate feminine matters.

Speaking to Sunday World, both genders at Wits admitted that speaking about the vagina, especially to your partner, is not "comfortable". Third-year electrical engineering student Amos Molefyane said he feels like he does not have a say on his girlfriend's vagina.

"I do not know much about it ... sometimes [after sex] she tells me she feels a burning sensation. We usually go for tests for sexually transmitted diseases because we were taught that a vagina only 'burns' when there are STIs," he said.

Sonjia Roothman, a communications student, said she does not feel free to discuss her vagina with people. "Not even my mother. I know she taught me what I need to do when I experience thrush but often, I do what I read on Google.

"If I notice that my discharge is yellow, I go to Google before I head to the doctor," she said.

Tebeila said the kind of food women eat and the underwear they use all impacts on their health. She said one of the easy ways to keep the vagina healthy is by drinking tons of water.

"Water helps with a healthy pH level," Tebeila said.

She encouraged women to know factors that contribute to the itch, burns and unpleasant odour and to explain these to their boyfriends. "A vagina is supposed to have a discharge, some of the bacteria contained in the discharge keeps the vagina healthy," she said.

Also, if you love being all sexy in lacey lingerie, it may be detrimental to your nether regions. Tebeila said it's time to swap sexy for less racy by wearing only cotton undies to keep bacteria and sweat at bay.

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