Vaginal cancer is rare but some 1,000 women are affected by it every year in the United States. There are ways to minimize your chances of becoming part of that figure.
Don’t have sex at a very young age. Delay your first sexual experience and limit the amount of sexual partners you have, preferably to only one. Choose a partner who has also limited his number of previous sexual partners. This is because some cases of vaginal cancer are caused by a type of HPV – a sexually transmitted virus.
Always use a condom unless you are trying to get pregnant, even if you have another form of contraception such as the pill. Condoms are the only form of contraception that protect against HPV and other sexually transmitted infections.
A higher proportion of women who smoke get vaginal cancer, compared with those who don’t smoke. If you already smoke, try to quit. There are support groups and medications that can help you quit smoking.
Have a Healthy Lifestyle
Women with immune system disorders and illnesses are more likely to get vaginal cancer. Eating a balanced diet that includes fresh fruit, vegetables and grains can help maintain a healthy body. Exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep and limiting or abstaining from alcohol all contribute to a better functioning immune system that is less likely to succumb to cancer.
Avoid Harsh Products on your Vagina
Don’t use soap on the vulva. The skin of the vulva is similar to that of the inside of the mouth and you wouldn’t put a bar of soap there. Soaps can interrupt the natural bacterial balance of the vagina and contribute to poor vaginal health. Simply washing daily in warm water is sufficient for cleansing.
Don’t use bubble baths or perfumes on the vagina and wash your underwear in natural detergents.
Don’t use tampons. These are made with rayon – a man-made fiber made of wood pulp and bleach. The bleach is a vaginal irritant and the rayon fibers can imbed into the vagina. These types of tampons can cause toxic shock in a few cases. Sea sponges or mooncups are a healthier alternative to regular tampons.
Know Your Vagina