It’s time to give your lady bits a little love.
Here’s where to start.
If you find yourself feeling self-conscious when talking about your intimate areas, you’re not alone. Thirty four percent of women are too embarrassed to talk about their vagina and vulva.
And Mamamia contributor cum lifestyle influencer Mary Rose Madigan used to part of that statistic.
But not anymore.
She now has a healthy relationship with her vagina, dubbing herself the ‘Lady Bits Queen’.
Here Mary Rose shares her journey to empowerment. And imparts her tips on caring for your vagina: from managing UTIs to understanding cervical screening.
A well overdue friendship with her vagina
Mary Rose’s journey to loving her vagina was quite the rocky road – and not the delicious marshmallow and chocolate kind.
“I think my relationship with my lady bits began when I was a toddler. I sometimes tried to shove soap inside of my vagina, only to burst into tears when it stung,” Mary Rose says.
But, as she shared in her featured Mamamia blog article, she has become better playmates with her vagina over the years.
“I’m one of those women that easily gets urinary tract infections (UTIs). And often, by proxy, I end up with thrush. Glamorous, right?” she jokes.
Being prone to these downstairs ailments led to her becoming more open when it came to talking about her vulva and vagina.
“When you need to take care of a problem, you are forced to be more practical about it. Sure, I’d like to not discuss my vulva or vagina, but it itches, so please help me.”
And now? She’s become quite a lady bits health activist, and self-proclaimed queen of vaginal care.
“I’m the friend you text when your vagina burns after sex, and you want to know if you should go see a doctor. (The answer is always yes).”
Dealing with the UTI devil
On average, about 50 to 60 percent of women will experience a UTI in their lifetime. Women get UTIs more than men because we have a shorter urethra.
“Sadly, for us women UTIs are the absolute devil. They sting, and you feel so uncomfortable,” Mary Rose says.
What’s more, one in five women experience recurrent UTIs. And Mary Rose is one of those recurrent gals.
But because of that, she’s learned some tricks on how to avoid them:
- Make sure you pee after sex. (I know the bed is warm and snuggly but get up, girl.)
- Don’t use anything that would irritate the area. (Fancy smelling soaps are a no-go.)
“Being herbal based and dermatologically approved, I made sure they were pH balanced, which is important as your lady bits are sensitive.
“But what interested me was the combo of ingredients in them both: Horopito, Aloe Vera, Tea Tree Oil and Vit E – all handy ingredients for irritations near those bits like chafing, itchiness, redness and shaving rash.”
The verdict? The Lady Bits Queen approves.
“I found them both super gentle and calming to the skin around the vagina, so it gets the tick from the lady bits.”
But if you do find yourself struck down with a UTI, you need to seek medical treatment.
“Untreated UTIs can become kidney infections pretty quickly,” she said. “You need to head to the doctor, confirm you have a UTI and get some antibiotics.”
Don’t stay hushed about thrush
Thrush is another uncomfortable yet common condition that affects women.
It’s caused by an overgrowth of yeast in the vagina – and taking a course of antibiotics is a common way to find yourself with thrush. Which is often why UTIs and thrush go hand in hand.
Mary Rose says, “Thrush can look different for everyone, but the most common symptoms are burning, itching, a thick white discharge, a yeasty smell, redness, swelling and burning during or after sex.”
Nearly a third of the women who responded to our Kolorex Vaginal Thrush survey had experienced vaginal thrush once or more every year – and 23 percent have an episode two-three times or more per year.
More than just discomfort, almost half of those who suffer from vaginal thrush also experience anxiety, fatigue and difficulty sleeping.
“About 75 percent of women will get thrush in their lifetime,” Mary Rose said. “So if you ever feel embarrassed or sad about it, just remember most women you know have dealt with it. Even really good-looking celebrities (if it helps).
“So let’s normalise just recognising it, talking about it, and seeking professional advice to get it treated. Sorted.
“Thrush is super treatable; you can take a tablet or use creams. I prefer a mixture of both because I like to hit it from all angles. You can get all these things over the counter at your local chemist, but once again, I recommend seeing a doctor. It can never hurt to double check,” she says.
Mary Rose also finds the Kolorex Care Cream helpful to soothe her lady bits after she’s been battling UTIs or thrush.
“Horopito has been around for 65 million years, quite incredibly. I’m comfortable knowing this cream, as well as the Vaginal Care Wash, are natural products using Horopito extract. I’ve found the cream really beneficial so far, so I would definitely recommend.”
Cervical screenings – they’re really not that bad
Mary Rose reminds us that one of the best ways to look after your vagina is to get your cervical screening ticked off the list.
“Hands up if you’ve been putting this off? Queens, please get it booked!”
“I know cervical screenings sound a little bit daunting, but the procedure to me feels like someone getting a tampon out for you: slightly uncomfortable but okay.
“Sure, it can be slightly awkward or uncomfortable in the moment. But the pay-off sure does give peace of mind, so it’s worth the few minutes of sacrifice.”
The Cervical Screening Test replaced the pap smear in 2017, with the old test having looked for changes in the cervix.
But the new test looks for HPV too, a common infection spread through sexual activity. Some strains of HPV can lead to cells changing.
Up to 80 per cent of people in Australia have HPV, so it’s incredibly common, which is why it’s so important to get tested.
“The good news is once you get re-tested and get the all-clear, you may not need to get tested again for another five years. Stunning,” she says.
The takeaway? Let’s destigmatise vaginal health
Ultimately, vaginal health is just as important as any other kind of health. And there’s nothing wrong with being practical about it.
“I’ve learned over the years you need to treat your lady parts just like any other part of your body. We can’t be shy or embarrassed.
“Taking care of all parts of our bodies, even the bits that may make us feel a bit embarrassed sometimes, is a kindness we know we all deserve.”
With Kolorex, you can take control – and care for your vagina and vulva proactively. Learn more about our Kolorex Vaginal Care range.