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As the nights start to draw in and the heating gets cranked up, vaginal health might not be the first thing on your mind! However, the delicate balance in the intimate area is easily disturbed, and there are a number of factors which might cause vaginal discomfort during the winter.
Therefore, you may need to look after your vaginal health a little differently at this time. In the colder months, we tend to spend more time indoors with the heating on and this air carries very little moisture; combine this with thick winter tights or snug fitting jeans and leggings, plus heavier clothing, and long, hot, scented baths, and you create the perfect environment for a syndrome which has been labelled as ‘winter vagina’. What is this seasonal phenomenon? Well, in the same way that extreme temperatures and dry heating can cause dry, chapped lips and hands, some women notice their vagina becomes dryer too. They may also notice that their overall vaginal health is affected.
Vaginal dryness is typically associated with menopause and fluctuating hormones, so it’s always best to speak to your doctor first if you notice any dryness or irritation. However, wintertime can see this problem worsening for some women, who experience vaginal issues and soreness severe enough to have an impact on their sex lives. If you do suffer from vaginal dryness or irritation, then you may find that a natural, personal lubricant helps during these colder winter months.
The good news is that there are a variety of very simple diet and lifestyle tips which can help you to winter-proof your vagina:
These products can disrupt the pH balance of the vagina and affect vaginal health. We recommend using unscented natural bath products, but if you want to fill your senses during bath-time, light your favourite scented candle, or pop a few drops of organic lavender essential oil into your bath. It smells wonderful and is naturally antibacterial.
Heavy clothing, activewear and thick tights can have a negative effect on intimate health as they do not allow the vagina to breath2. Bad bacteria and yeasts love a warm moist environment, so opt for natural fabrics such as 100% cotton -this is one of the best options for supporting your vaginal health. Allow your vagina some natural ‘breathing space’ every day – try to go underwear free for at least a few hours, ideally overnight.
It’s not a nice thought but washing alone may not be removing bacteria and yeasts from your undies. A top tip is to iron the gusset of your underwear after washing, but if that feels like too much of a chore, pop them in the microwave for a minute or two3. Remember to check them for non-microwaveable metals and do a short fabric test first, as you don’t want them to melt or set on fire – this gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘hot pants’!
Studies show that regular alcohol consumption can play havoc with our intimate health4. If you think this is a factor for you but find it hard to cut out the winter toddies altogether, try drinking more mindfully: try savouring one glass of your favourite tipple all night, sip by sip, this may help you say no to more! If you have a party to attend and you know drinks will flow, then opt for lower sugar options like clear spirits or wine spritzers with sparkling water.
Try to cut back on sweets and chocolate as sugar can feed bad bacteria or yeasts. Instead, opt for darker chocolate that is 75% cocoa -this contains much less sugar compared to milk chocolate and is loaded with nutrients which may positively affect your health. As mentioned above, drinks contain lots of sugar too – check the sugar content in any sodas, mixers, and even fruit juices, that you drink.
If you suffer from winter vagina, keeping well-hydrated is vitally important, so ensure you’re drinking 6-8 glasses of fluids per day. If you’re not consuming enough water, your skin including your vaginal skin may be prone to dryness and this may lead to itching. Swap sugary lattes for drinks such as herbal teas and swap sodas for fizzy water – you can liven up your water intake by adding delicious lemon and lime slices5.
If you wish to take a supplement, then it’s best to choose a one which is specifically designed to support vaginal health. Optibac Probiotics For Women contains well-researched strains, Lactobacillus paracasei F-19®, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1® and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14®, which are proven to survive to reach the vagina alive. This high-quality supplement is specially formulated to support a balanced and healthy vaginal environment, by increasing levels of Lactobacilli naturally present in the vagina and supporting urinary tract and vaginal health*.
If you want to find out more about Lactobacillus bacteria, read What is Lactobacillus?
If you would like to read more content relating to vaginal health, please search our website using the word ‘vagina’.
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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Probiotic supplements are not drugs and therefore are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition.