Diet and Vaginal Health
With so much conflicting information about vaginal health, it can be difficult to know what's true. While your vagina is self-cleaning, it's extremely sensitive to the slightest changes in pH levels and, unfortunately, it's easy to mess up your body's pH. Having unprotected sex, for example, can alter pH levels, as can having sex with a new partner, using certain kinds of lubricant and even washing with fragrant soaps.
It may not seem quite so obvious a connection, but a good way to keep your vagina as healthy as possible is to think twice about the food you're consuming.
Here are four foods you can incorporate into your regular diet that will boost your vagina's overall health and ward off infections:
Cranberries and cranberry juice have long been promoted for bladder and vaginal health. In fact, some research concludes cranberries can actually ward off urinary tract infections (UTIs), particularly in women with recurring cases. Cranberries are also great for fighting bad bacteria and boosting your immunity with antioxidants and vitamins C and E.
When you're selecting a juice product, be sure to purchase sugar-free cranberry juice rather than the many sugary products that look the right color but don't really help at all and might just promote yeast production. The best option, of course, is to stick with fresh cranberries and add them to your own juice drinks.
2. Fermented foods
Probiotics are well-known for helping to naturally balance pH levels and prevent infections, and fermented foods are bursting with both pre- and probiotics.
Examples of fermented foods include yogurt and kimchi—a staple of every Korean kitchen, a traditional dish of salted and fermented cabbage and radish—which have live cultures of good bacteria that fight off bad bacteria. In fact, many women who have recurrent bacterial vaginosis (BV) or yeast infections often find that probiotic-enriched foods help treat infections.
Again, it's important here to stress that fermented foods with little to no sugar are preferable to get the benefits.
3. Omega-3 fatty acids
If you're looking to boost your sex drive, promote vaginal circulation and eliminate dryness, you may want to boost your omega-3 fatty acids intake.
Studies indicate that plant foods rich in omega-3s—such as flax seeds, hemp seeds, sea buckthorn oil and walnuts—can improve blood circulation to your vagina, which in turn can eliminate dryness and increase your desire for sex.
4. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes have a high amount of vitamin A, which plays an important role in strengthening muscle tissue. Incorporating more sweet potatoes into your diet can improve the strength of your vaginal walls, which is particularly important for people who are pregnant or trying to conceive.
The bottom line
You don't have to completely change the way you eat to benefit your vaginal health; just try incorporating a few more of these foods into your diet and experience the difference.
And if you're prone to yeast infections, try reducing your sugar intake (for a short time) and add some probiotic-rich foods to your diet to prevent new infections from forming.