Our bodies are complex, hyper-intelligent, and communicate regularly if we are attuned enough to listen. But sometimes when it comes to our vaginal health, we associate shame with signals our body sends us. An easy shift in perspective to take the judgment out of your intimate health is to recognize that these symptoms are merely messages from your body. They are one of the endless ways your body is talking to you, giving a status update or alerting you to a problem.
When you contract an infection, for example, you will quickly see signs that your body is fighting back. Your immune system might raise your temperature resulting in a fever. Or it may sap you of energy, forcing you to a standstill so it can focus its energy on the immune response.
Common Signals Your Body Sends You
- Scratchy throat
- Growling stomach
- Itchy skin
- Watery eyes
- Painful muscles
- Digestive upset
- Loss of taste and smell
These are all ways your body is communicating with you – whether you’re tired, anxious, hungry, fighting an infection, allergic to something in your environment, etc. When it comes to our intimate health, we believe it’s worth being just as open-minded and non-judgmental as you are with signals in the rest of your body. Instead of placing blame, take a moment to appreciate how smart your body is to tell you when something is wrong. Learning how to listen to your body protects you.
Common Signals Your Vagina Sends You
- Cramping pain
- Discharge (from normal to abnormal)
- Abnormal or fishy odor
- Pain with sex
- Burning sensation
It is normal for these symptoms to come and go, and the better you are at listening, the better you’ll get at supporting your vaginal health.
Tips for Listening to Your Body
Know What's Normal for You
The more you get to know your body in its healthy state, the better you’ll be at detecting when the system is out of balance. Whether you keep track of your menstrual cycle, your vaginal discharge (which changes throughout your cycle), or other signs like your baseline energy level, all of these can inform the way you detect when a signal feels out of the ordinary.
Check-In with Yourself
We evaluate many things in life by taking a routine audit, such as monthly breast check or annual exams with your OB/GYN. You may find it helpful to take a quick head-to-toe review each day – for example, when you're getting ready in the morning. How do you feel? Do you see or sense anything different? What's your mood? Not only is this helpful in listening to your body, but you can better set expectations for the day when you have a sense of where you're at and what kind of energy you're bringing.
Try Mindfulness Meditation
One of my favorite ways to amplify my inner voice is to eliminate the noise and distractions through meditation or other self-care ritual. You can start with a simple guided meditation or sign up for a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course online or in-person. Almost every community offers a program which is a great way to get started. Most programs run for eight weeks.
Follow along next month for the third installment in our series where we'll delve into actionable ways you can perform a regular vaginal health self-check. Also, be sure to follow us on social media for additional resources on this topic with more in-depth looks into the ways your body sends you signals and more.