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Back in the day, talking about your, uh, flower was considered scandalous. Saying “vagina” would elicit gasps, giggles, or dropped jaws. Single women would even go as far as hiding the fact that they have an OB-GYN, because you know, only married women can have one. A lot of cray.

Because it is Women’s Month, allow the women of MB Life talk openly about our vajayjay by listing down ways we can love it, take care of it, and celebrate it.

1. Start with the right wash.  Unlike other countries, feminine wash is so mainstream and accessible in the Philippines, that no one blinks twice when you purchase it (not to mention, endorsed by popular artistas!). But there’s more to feminine wash than giving you that “clean” feeling.

Dr. Jennifer T. Co, OB-GYNE at the Fe del Mundo Medical Center, says, “It is essential to use it everyday, except during red days, because some of feminine washes can maintain the acidity of the genital area. Daily feminine wash is formulated differently from that of the antiseptic wash. The latter is not intended for everyday use.”

Dr. Grace Cayabyab, OB-GYNE at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center, suggests cleaning from front to back. “This is to avoid fecal material from contaminating the sterile vagina. Also, if you’re vagina is irritated, common culprits would be bleached tissue paper, or even excessive washing. Gentle skin care should be encouraged, with use of warm water and pat dry with undyed or unbleached tissue paper.”

2. Ventilate your vag. If you’re into the habit of wearing panty liners, Dr. Co says that you need to change every 4 to 6 hours to keep your genital area ventilated. “Make sure the panty liners are breathable, because the vaginal discharge can accumulate on the liner and cause infections, if left worn for too long.” Dr. Cayabyab says to even limit the use of pantyliners to just the latter part of your period, “because using it everyday may keep the moisture in.”

How about going commando? Dr. Co gives it a big, fat no. “It’s not healthy! There’s the risk of insect bites and contamination of the genital area.”

But, Dr. Lariza Bautista-Luna, OB-GYNE at the Roxas Maternity and Medical Clinic, says that it’s a-okay. “We live in a tropical country, and bacteria thrives and multiplies fast in a moist and warm environment.”

Our verdict? Opt to wear airy cotton undies instead.

3. Use tampons without fear or judgment. No, it won’t stretch your vag out, and it most definitely won’t de-virginize you, if that’s your fear. Dr. Cayabyab says, “Sanitary pads and tampons are equally effective in providing protection, but since most young women base their choice on their mother’s influence, pads are the more popular choice. But, we give tampon users the advice on how to use it properly, to avoid infections.”

4. Get rid of the hair down there—but with caution. While waxing doesn’t affect your ovaries, having a bit of pubic hair isn’t such a bad thing. That’s your body’s way of protecting your vagina. Dr. Co says, “There are tiny tears left behind in the hair follicles when the hair is ripped out with wax, and can cause infection, including Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), because it’s transferred thru skin-to- skin contact, and can go through the tears.”

The verdict? Dr. Co advises to simply trim, because it’s safer than shaving or waxing. But, if you’ve got to get that Brazilian or landing strip, we say to do it with caution, and trust only the experts with your vag.

5. Don’t slather it with yogurt, please. You may have overheard (and got a good laugh at) talk that slathering some yogurt down under will help promote or produce good bacteria. After the LOLs, you may have considered it for a millisecond because it kind of made sense, but Dr. Co begs to differ.

“There is no scientific evidence to show this. But, there are published literatures reporting the benefit of taking oral or intravaginal probiotics in cases of vaginal infections to restore depleted population of lactobacilli.”

6. Actually, just don’t let food get anywhere near it. Ice cubes from the mouth of Christian Grey might sound safe enough, but everything else, from whipped cream to whatever else you’ve read or seen, might cause an infection.

7. Masturbate away (don’t worry, your hand won’t fall off.) It’s worth repeating that there’s nothing—absolutely nothing—wrong with knowing how to pleasure yourself. And no, you won’t go blind, your hand won’t fall off, you won’t ruin your sex life, or whatever else people have told you to stop you from doing so. But, if you’ll be using more than your digits for some self-love, Dr. Co says to keep your sex toys clean, especially when you’re sharing it with your partner.

8. Keep sexathons to a good minimum. Dr. Co says that when semen is introduced to the vagina, it takes about six hours for your vag to restore its acidic pH back to how it was before. “Increase frequency of sex can put a woman at risk, because of the exposure to seminal fluid that is considered alkaline in nature. The semen alters the acid environment of the vagina.”

Dr. Bautista-Luna also adds that there’s something called “honeymoon cystitis,” which is like a Urinary Tract Infection, but the possibility of getting it is higher when you get a lot of action. She says, “Just practice good hygiene, and safe sex with a monogamous partner.”

9. Set your vagina free! You might think that your vag is some high maintenance partner that needs to be paid attention to 24/7, but just like you, your vag is fine and low key enough to take care of herself. Dr. Cayabyab says, “My advice is, less is more. The vagina and vulva are naturally equipped with the microorganisms and protective barriers. It is our duty as their owners to take care of it properly by not applying too much chemicals, and letting its natural protective mechanism do the work.”

Illustration: Madel Crudo

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