When we googled the word "vagina", we found more than 1000 euphemisms. Beaver, clam, ladygarden, cock-sock (really?) and muff are a few. Being the forward females that we are, we quite like pussy and the dreaded c-word too, but we realise those words aren't for everyone so we'll stick with vagina.
Keeping your vagina happy & healthy is essential - an itchy muffkin is no joking matter. Any woman who has ever had thrush knows what we're talking about: thrush is a yeast infection, causing itching and soreness around the vaginal opening, alongside the dreaded cottage cheese-like discharge. It's easily treatable, but it's an absolute bugger if you are unfortunate enough to experience a bout.
A healthy vagina will produce around 700ml of mucus each month. The mucus will change throughout your cycle, and this is perfectly normal. Your mucus will be transparent and stringy during ovulation, which is a useful hint if you are trying for a baby.
The vagina has a slight odour, but it's not unpleasant. Diet, sexual arousal or ovulation can change the smell slightly, but it should still smell fresh. A strong-smelling vagina could indicate an infection and should be investigated.
The vagina produces healthy bacteria called lactobaccili. Good bacteria inside the vagina should flourish and outweigh any bad bacteria. For this reason, you should not douche the vagina, or wash with strongly scented soaps. It may seem as if you're giving yourself a "deeper clean" but in actual fact, you're upsetting the natural pH and you're likelier to end up with a vaginal infection.
The vagina is self-cleansing, which means you needn't scrub it out. Washing the labia folds with gentle soap and water is enough - the inside takes care of itself. The vagina is clever like that.
Every so often we meet women who say they have developed an vaginal infection for no apparent reason. When we ask for more details, we can often help pin point what has caused the bout of Bacterial Vaginosis (BV).
Very hot baths, or bubble baths, are lovely to sink into, but they don't do vaginas any favours. The hot water and scented bubbles will dry out the delicate vaginal membranes, and too many of these lovely baths will cause an imbalance in vaginal pH, and before you know it, you'll find yourself with a sour-smelling, watery discharge that needs seeing to. Strong washing powers may also cause BV, as can douching (flushing out the vagina with water). Showers are more vagina-friendly, plus that shower head is always fun...
If you suspect you have BV or any other vaginal infection, it's time to book an appointment with your GP.