Day by day, the prevalence of diabetes is steadily rising, impacting women on a significant scale. In fact, signs of prediabetes are emerging in women at a very young age. Diabetes brings about numerous health challenges, including an increased risk of vaginal health complications. Unfortunately, many women remain unaware of the connection between diabetes and vaginal health. Thus, we aim to shed light on how diabetes can affect your vaginal health.
For insights into the link between diabetes and vaginal health, Health Shots spoke to Dr Astha Dayal, an Obstetrician and Gynecologist at CK Birla Hospital in Gurugram.
Common vaginal health problems in women with diabetes
Elevated blood sugar levels heighten vaginal sensitivity, increasing the risk of sexual infections. Additionally, diabetes often leads to reduced libido in women, diminishing their interest in sexual activity.
Vaginal yeast infections and other types of vaginal infections are more prevalent and severe in women with diabetes. The elevated blood sugar levels negatively impact blood circulation, reducing the body’s ability to combat infections effectively.
Frequent urination, a common symptom of diabetes, can lead to urine retention in the bladder, fostering bacterial growth and increasing the risk of vaginal infections. Vaginal dryness is another challenge women face with diabetes, making penetrative sex painful.
Hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle can also cause spikes in blood sugar levels. This can result in heavy periods and heightened food cravings, making diabetes management more challenging.
Tips to maintain vaginal health with diabetes
Here are 7 tips that will help you maintain vaginal health with diabetes:
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1. Regular checkup
Regular medical checkups are paramount for women with diabetes. Apart from your blood sugar test, make sure you discuss your vaginal health as well with your healthcare provider. Routine examinations can help detect any early signs of infections or other issues.
2. Take a probiotic
Probiotics are beneficial for promoting healthy bacteria in the body, including the vaginal microbiome. Incorporating probiotics (probiotic benefits) into your diet can help maintain a balanced vaginal environment, reducing the risk of infections.
3. Stay hydrated
Keep the body hydrated. Often, women avoid drinking enough water due to frequent urination caused by diabetes. It can have a negative effect on vaginal health as well as on the skin. Dr Dayal says, “Proper hydration is essential for overall health, and it can also benefit vaginal health. Drinking an adequate amount of water helps maintain the body’s natural lubrication, reducing the risk of vaginal dryness and discomfort.”
4. Maintain intimate hygiene
Always keep your vagina clean and dry. Bacteria and fungi love moisture, so a wet vagina can help them thrive. Use a mild, fragrance-free soap to clean the external genital area. Avoid harsh soaps or douches, as they can disrupt the natural pH balance of the vagina. Along with this, always use tissues to wipe your vagina after urinating to keep it dry.
5. Wear cotton underwear
Wear clean, breathable, cotton underwear that allows air to pass through the fabric. Cotton allows for better airflow and moisture absorption, reducing the risk of fungal or bacterial overgrowth. More importantly, avoid wearing the same underwear for more than sixteen hours. Change it before going to bed at night, or sleep without underwear. Apart from underwear, avoid wearing tight-fitting clothing, especially bottoms, which can block the air from passing.
6. Choose vaginal products wisely
Be cautious when using products in the vaginal area. Avoid harsh chemicals, fragrances, or douches, as they can irritate the delicate tissues and disrupt the vaginal flora. Opt for products specifically designed for intimate use and consult with a healthcare provider if you have concerns.
7. Use toilet paper properly
After urinating, wipe your vagina with toilet paper from front to back instead of the other way around. This reduces the risk of transmitting bacteria from the anal to the vaginal area. Wash your hands after cleaning your vagina. If you are using a public toilet, then take special care of your intimate hygiene because there is a high risk of getting an infection.
Keep these vaginal hygiene tips in mind and reduce your risk of getting an infection!