health

From UTIs to cervical screening: All the ways we can look after our lady bits.

Kolorex
Thanks to our brand partner, Kolorex

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.            

Thankfully, I’ve become better at playing with my vagina over the years. Taking care of it, on the other hand, is a whole other can of worms. 

I consider myself a little bit of a lady bits health activist. I am 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. 

I wasn’t always this empowered, I used to be quite embarrassed about “down there” which isn’t uncommon. Thirty-four per cent per cent of women are too embarrassed to talk about their lady bits. 

But then something went wrong, and my perspective shifted. 

When you need to take care of a problem, you are forced to be more practical about it. Sure, I’d like to not to discuss my vulva or vagina, but it itches, so please help me. 

I’m one of those women that easily gets urinary tract infections (UTIs), and often, by proxy, I end up with thrush. Glamorous, right? 

However, being more prone to these downstairs ailments has made me the lady bits queen. Not a doctor. A queen! So take my advice with a grain of salt, or a handful if you want your meal to taste good. 

Around 50 to 60 per cent of women will experience a UTI in their lifetime. Sadly for us women UTIs are the absolute devil.

They sting, and you feel so uncomfortable. Women get UTIs more than men because we have a shorter urethra, so it absolutely isn’t our fault. To quote Lady Gaga, “Baby, I was born this way.”

One in 5 women experience recurrent UTIs. Being one of these recurrent gals, I’ve 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. 

Make sure you aren’t using anything that is irritating the area. Fancy smelling soaps can be a no go, the vagina is self-cleaning so you don’t need to fiddle with it too much. 

If I feel like I need some extra care down there, I’ve previously used a scentless soap from the supermarket to wash around the area, but lately I’ve been testing out the Kolorex Vaginal Care products. And I’m quite liking it (as do the lady bits). 

First I tried their Kolorex Vaginal Care Wash, and went back and got their Kolorex Vaginal Care Cream (both just for external use only).

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Being herbal based and dermatologically approved, I made sure they were pH balanced which is important because your lady bits are sensitive. 

Image: Supplied.

But what interested me was the combo of ingredients in them both: Horopito (which I hadn’t heard of before), Aloe Vera, Tea Tree Oil and Vit E – all handy ingredients for irritations near those bits like chafing, itchiness, redness and shaving rash.

I found them both super gentle and calming the skin around the vagina, so it gets the tick from the lady bits. 

Horopito, I was happy to know, is a native New Zealand herb long prized by the Indigenous Māori community for its powerful benefits. With extracts of it used in body and skincare, it leaves any skin type feeling calmed, cleansed and refreshed. Love that for us all.

So I can vouch that these did help for me. 

And importantly: please make sure you are consistently drinking plenty of water. 

This is excellent advice in general, so even if you don’t get UTIs, drink water! Also, water is free (if we just ignore your water bill for just a moment). 

But if you do find yourself struck down with a UTI, there is one thing I insist you do not do. 

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Do not go online and read that cranberry juice will flush it out. Yes, some parts of the internet will say that cranberry supplements or extracts can help (or maybe the juice is just delicious and sugary, so it distracts you from the pain). 

But the truth is untreated UTIs can become kidney infections pretty quickly. You need to head to the doctor, confirm you have a UTI and get some antibiotics. 

Trust me. Home remedies can be helpful accompanied with a doctor’s confirmation and advice, but they also can be dangerous if you solely rely on them. 

The only downside to taking antibiotics (not to stop you from taking them FYI) is you usually get thrush afterwards. 

Antibiotics can cause thrush because it can kill off helpful bacteria that prevents an overgrowth of yeast in the vagina. 

You guessed it, I’m also someone that is prone to thrush. 

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. 

Kolorex's recent survey found 49.9 per cent of women suffering from vaginal thrush also experience difficulty sleeping, with 48.8 per cent suffering anxiety and 43.6 per cent suffering fatigue. Heck.

If you think you have thrush, again head to the doctor for treatment (“Hi, it’s me again”). Even consider getting an STI test to rule out any sexually transmitted infections. 

(I also endorse having an STI test every six months, even if you have been with the same partner during that time. It can’t hurt to check right? And it can hurt to NOT check).

If you were wondering like I was: thrush is super common. In a study of women that had suffered Vaginal Thrush in their lifetime, nearly a third of women Kolorex surveyed (32.7 per cent) had experienced vaginal thrush once or more every year, with 23 per cent having an episode 2-3 times or more per year. 

Of these women surveyed, 47 per cent said it made them feel miserable, and 43 per cent said they felt frustrated and unable to control it.

This makes me really sad. Group hug please everyone.

About 75 per cent of women generally will get thrush in their lifetime, 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). 

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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. 

This is where the Kolorex Vaginal Care Cream helps I’ve found, just to soothe my lady bits after I’ve 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 would definitely recommend.

Finally, one of the best ways you can look after your lady bits is to get your cervical screening ticked off the list. Hands up if you’ve been putting this off? Queens, please get it booked!

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Over 50 per cent of Australian women do get their regular cervical screenings but that’s not nearly enough. I know they 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.

Women between the ages of 25-74 years are recommended to get cervical screenings. 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 is incredibly common, which is why it is so important to get tested. 

If your results do come back with HPV, you do not need to panic. This just means you’ll have more cervical screening in a year to monitor changes in your system. 

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.

Ultimately, we can’t forget that vaginal health is just as important as any other kind of health. 

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. 

For example, if you have a tickle in your throat, you’ll buy throat lozenges or a syrup and head to the doctors if it gets worse. The same thing applies downstairs; a little tickle that persists needs to be investigated. 

Tell yourself, statistically speaking, it’s probably thrush. And get yourself to the doctor to put your mind at rest, and a treatment option in place. Remember 75 per cent of women experience this at some time in their lives. 

Taking care of all parts of our bodies, even the bits that may make us feel a bit embarrassed sometimes – our vaginas, ladies (yes, we can shout it out loud) – is a kindness we know we all deserve.

With Kolorex, you can take control – and care for your vagina and vulva proactively. Find the Kolorex Vaginal Care Wash, Vaginal Care Cream and more here.

Feature Image: Supplied.

Kolorex
Welcome to a new world of vaginal care with Kolorex. We’ll help you care for – and love – your lady bits. It’s our mission to tackle the taboo around vaginal health – by offering products that give women’s intimate areas the care they so rightly deserve. Our range of creams and washes utilise the benefit of herbal Horopito with the combined power of Aloe and Tea Tree. Allowing you to find peace from life’s little irritations. Our products are pH balanced, dermatologically approved, and formulated for those sensitive lady bits - helping restore a sense of calm to your intimate care routine.