5 Foods You Should Be Eating to Maintain Vaginal Health
When you think about eating, the last thing you're probably thinking about is how your food impacts your vagina. Your energy levels? Sure. Metabolism? That's likely, too. But vagina? Well, it turns out there are more and more experts coming forward these days to talk about the incredible connection between diet and vaginal health.
Before we get into it, though, let's start with what does it mean to have a healthy vagina? It's all about having a balanced pH level. Dr. Mary Rosser, a gynecologist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, told Women's Health magazine that a balanced pH level also means the vaginal environment is a little acidic, which contributes to healthy bacteria that chases away infections. A healthy vagina will also produce a healthy amount of good discharge, which naturally cleans out all the stuff that shouldn't stay in your body.
So, how can you make sure you're doing your part in maintaining optimal vaginal health? Well, it all starts with making the right lifestyle choices. If you eat the right foods and clean yourself the right way (no douching, ever!), you're off to a good start. According to California-based gynecologist and founder of LaMaria Dr. Manuela Vazquez, there isn't robust scientific studies proving that certain foods or supplements directly help with vaginal health, but there is promising research that shows how certain foods impact the vagina. For example, some foods can help reduce the likelihood of infections, painful period symptoms, and imbalanced pH levels. Here are five foods that will contribute to a healthy vagina.
What foods should you eat for a healthy vagina?
1. Greek yogurt
There is promising research that probiotic-specific strains of lactobacillus may help to maintain a balanced vaginal ecosystem, says Dr. Vazquez. Greek yogurt is full of live and active cultures, which are probiotics that will keep the pH levels in your vagina at a good place. Just make sure you look at the label and see that it does, in fact, include those cultures you're looking for.
Not into yogurt, or just can't eat it? That's okay. You can try other probiotic-rich foods, like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and miso. "It may also be easier to take a probiotic supplement to ensure you are getting enough of and the right strains that have been shown to be beneficial," says Dr. Vazquez.
Have you ever been told to drink cranberry juice when you had a UTI? That's because there is some evidence that cranberry juice may decrease the number of UTIs over a 12-month period only for women with recurrent UTIs. Some believe that's due to the high acidity in cranberries that help fight bacteria. However, drinking cranberry juice shouldn't be your only remedy and you should always consult with a doctor if you're experiencing a potential infection.
Studies have shown that those who have used vitamin E suppositories helped relieve symptoms associated with vaginal atrophy, which is the thinning, drying, and inflammation of the vaginal walls during menopause. One avocado contains up to 20% of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin E, which can help prevent vaginal dryness in the long run.
4. Sweet potatoes
I was surprised to hear my favorite kind of potato made the cut, but apparently, they're rich in vitamin A, which helps decrease the potential risk for bacterial vaginosis. Additionally, sweet potatoes are said to strengthen your vaginal and uterine walls, which are needed for proper embryo and fetus development.
5. Dark leafy vegetables
Veggies like kale and spinach are rich in vitamin K that keep the blood circulating and prevent blood clots, making your menstrual cycle a bit easier to endure. Dr. Rosser recommends stocking up on this kind of produce as often as possible.
What foods should you avoid?
According to Dr. Vazquez, there aren't robust scientific studies on what foods disrupt a healthy vagina, but there is a link between women who consume diets high in fat and vaginal infections. Dr. Rosser also says it's important to avoid refined sugars as they can throw off your pH balance down there and make your period symptoms more severe because it causes your blood sugar to rise or helps certain fungus to grow.
Ultimately, Dr. Vazquez says, "optimizing your overall general health is the best way to maintain your vaginal health."