LIFESTYLE

The V Word: We Need To Talk About Intimate Health

15/04/2014 12:04 BST | Updated 15/04/2014 12:59 BST
Mark Lewis via Getty Images

Vagina: There, we’ve said it. And it really wasn’t that difficult. Yet, according to a survey, 42% of women (100% of whom we assume have a vagina) feel uncomfortable even saying the word in daily conversation. In fact, almost a quarter admitted they had never even looked properly at their own vagina.

This perhaps explains why more than half of the 1,000 British women polled said they would be embarrassed to talk to someone if they had an intimate health concern – and by that we mean a health concern with their vagina (yes, we’ve said it again).

But such concerns are not uncommon: The study found that a quarter of women have experienced a health problem with their vagina at some point in their life, while one in five have either had or currently have concerns about the health of their vagina.

Vagisil, the intimate health experts behind the survey, are on a mission to break the taboo that shrouds women and their ‘private parts’ by opening the discussion and normalising intimate health problems and concerns.

Most of us take care of our face and body using cleansers, washes and creams but according to Vagisil, our intimate skin benefits from special attention, too. From maintaining a healthy pH balance to treating and preventing uncomfortable itching and chafing, the Vagisil range has been designed to cleanse, protect and maintain a healthy vagina.

A balancing act

The vagina contains healthy bacteria, called lactobacilli, which help to maintain its naturally low pH level. But there are a number of factors – such as the menstrual cycle, the menopause, certain body washes and even having sex – that can disrupt this balance.

If the pH increases, becoming less acidic, the quality of the vagina’s healthy bacteria can fall, allowing other harmful bacteria to multiply, which can lead to bacterial vaginosis or thrush.

But the unique pH level of the vagina, which is between 4.5 and 5.0, is different to water and regular body washes. For this reason, Vagisil has created Vagisil pH Balance Intimate Wash, £5.50 RRP (250ml). This specialised wash contains LactoPrebiotic™ to help support a healthy vaginal pH as well as a skin soothing botanical blend of Aloe, Calendula and Chamomile.

The comfort factor

Itching down below is at best uncomfortable, at worst painful – not to mention pretty awkward when you’re standing in the supermarket checkout queue. But it’s also very common. As many as 69% of women who admitted to health concerns about their vagina said they had experienced itching. But while 38% of those would automatically assume the culprit was thrush, there are in fact over 60 causes of vaginal itching, including periods, perspiration and even too-tight clothes.

Whatever the reason, Vagisil Medicated Anti-Itch Crème, £4.50 (30g) offers instant soothing relief from intimate itching, burning and irritation. Or to help keep itching at bay in the long term, Vagisil Dual Action Intimate Wipes, RRP £4.50 (for pack of 12), are pH balanced and contain naturally anti-bacterial Tea Tree Oil and a blend of Chamomile and Calendula to soothe irritating discomfort while gently cleansing.

Freshen up

There are more sweat glands in the vagina than under the arms, so not surprisingly the area can be prone to excessive moisture, which can in turn lead to discomfort and chafing. But unlike our underarms where it is considered the norm to halt perspiration in its tracks with anti-perspirant deodorant, our vagina requires a more gentle approach.

Vagisil Moisure Shield Intimate Powder, £5.00 (100g), absorbs moisture and helps prevent odour when applied daily after a bath or shower or sprinkled on knickers or panty liners for extra protection. Its unique formula soothes and freshens the skin as well as helping to stop irritation and chafing.

Addressing your intimate health issues is essential: and now there's no more need to feel discomfort down below than there is to feel discomfort saying vagina.