Take a probiotic: Probiotics help bolster the gut lining, Trubow says. Taking oral probiotics and eating probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kombucha, and sauerkraut can help keep the vaginal microbiome healthy, according to Fromberg. Look for a product that contains Lactobacillus, the genus of bacteria that keeps vaginas healthy and balanced, like the ones on this list of the year’s top nine best probiotics for women.
Avoid inflammatory foods: What you eat directly affects the health of all parts of your body, including the vagina, according to Trubow. She suggests avoiding foods and drinks that cause inflammation, such as processed foods and alcohol, and recommends seeing a functional medicine provider to test for food sensitivities and discover which foods irritate your gut. Fromberg suggests eating mostly whole foods, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates.
Avoid douching: Vaginas clean themselves. While cleaning the outside of your vagina is important, douching the inside can strip your vagina of both bad and good bacteria. “The vagina wasn’t designed to be washed out,” Trubow says.
Wear a condom: Sex can throw off a vagina’s pH, too. Semen leans on the basic side, so it can affect a vagina’s acidic pH, according to Fromberg. Using a condom, aside from being a healthy family planning practice, can help keep your vagina’s pH balanced.
Change out of moist fabrics: It’s a good rule of thumb to limit the amount of time you spend in wet, synthetic fabrics, such as swimsuits, underwear, and exercise clothing, Fromberg says, as they can create an environment that breeds bacteria.
As for how you’ll know that your efforts are working? “When you fix the gut, the vagina becomes invisible,” Trubow says. “Most people don’t think about their elbows. That’s how your vagina should be…you don’t notice it; it just does its job.”