The medical dictionary describes vagina as a muscular canal extending from the cervix to the outside of the body. The Oxford dictionary defines vagina as a passage leading from a woman’s external genitals to the womb. The word ‘vagina’ is a Latin word meaning a scabbard into which one might slide. The vaginal opening is called the vestibule of the vagina. It is a space or cavity at the entrance to a canal or a channel.
The vagina is also called Yoni in Sanskrit which means womb, source, abode, and represents the Mother Goddess in Hinduism. That was the time when we did not feel ashamed or embarrassed of this organ. This organ was celebrated and cherished as it represented life and divine power.
But now we feel awkward to talk about it and keep it covered in drapes. Why do we feel so embarrassed and uncomfortable talking about it when it needs to be cared and protected just like any other organ. The vagina is an essential female reproductive organ and requires a lot of care and protection.
Vagina serves as the passage for menstrual flow, helps penis in sexual intercourse, serves as a birth canal for the delivery of the baby and helps prevention of bacteria from entering the body.
The common vaginal problems are related to itching, yeast infection, vaginal discharge, dryness, lost tampon, or injury or pain during sexual intercourse. But women are not comfortable to talk or discuss with each other forget about seeing a doctor. I am not saying you should make it your next Facebook update. What I mean is you should familiarize yourself with vagina and vulva and seek appropriate and preventive medical help at the right time if needed.
You should know what ‘normal’ vaginal discharge is and what should be the color of your release.
The vagina is a dynamic organ and will change throughout your life cycle. You may have different vaginal problems at various stages of life such as the beginning of menstruation, sexual intercourse, and menopause.
You should understand the medical side effects of using tampons, sanitary napkins, various hair removal products. Though inside of vaginas are self-cleaning, you should know how to keep the outside vagina clean by using water and soap.
I think we all know the importance of healthy diet and regular exercise as walking, running and common floor exercises for a healthy vagina.
We should know what happens inside our reproductive organs when we have sex and how unsafe sex impacts our vaginal health.
In case you face a vaginal problem, talk to your close friend or a relative and seek suggestions for a good vaginal specialist. You can surf the web and read about it yourself but don’t believe everything that’s written on the internet. Keep track of the symptoms and share it with your doctor. Don’t be embarrassed to talk to your doctor about your symptoms and pointing out the exact area of pain (if any). Keep a list of questions ready before you meet your doctor.
The doctor will do a regular pelvic examination based on your symptoms. The standard tests done to determine the health of the vagina are:
- Acid-base balance test to check the acidic level of the vagina.
- The Whiff test to check the proteins present in the vagina.
- The Wet prep to check the yeast infections
- Vulvar biopsy to find out about lumps or ulcers.
- PAP test to check the presence of the cancerous condition. This is an essential test, every sexually active woman should undergo this test.
Ask your doctor openly and what tests she recommends and why.
Every woman should have clear and jargon-free information about her vaginal health. Though the vagina is a private part, the health and medical information about it should be readily accessible and not be kept secret.