Plus other easy post-sex moves that’ll keep your vagina healthy—so you can drift off to sleep happy.
We’ve all heard it a million times: always pee after sex—to avoid a urinary tract infection (UTI), gynecologists say. Okay, but what else should you do as you bask in the afterglow, and how exactly do these moves keep your vagina in top shape? We posed the question to Sara Twogood, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine. Turns out there’s more reasons to hop out of bed before you fall asleep than you’d think.
Hit the toilet
Even if your bladder isn’t full, try to pee anyway—your urine stream will help flush out bacteria from your urethra, the short tube that carries pee out of your body, says Dr. Twogood. UTIs happen when bacteria that normally live in the vagina or colon get inadvertently pushed into the urethra during sexual activity.
Peeing post-sex is especially important if you’re prone to UTIs, as many women are. But if you’re lucky enough to have dealt with this common infection, do yourself a favor and hit the toilet following your sex session. Lowering your odds of crazy-painful UTI symptoms such as pain and blood in your urine will be well worth the two-minute hike to the bathroom.
Towel off down below
Sex is supposed to be wet and messy; semen, sweat, lubricant, and vaginal fluids can all leave your lady bits damp after a romp between the sheets. But it’s a smart idea to grab a towel or wad up toilet paper and wipe away the excess moisture. Bacteria and yeast thrive in moist conditions, and not drying off can increase your odds of developing a yeast infection, says Dr. Twogood.
“Moisture is something we want to avoid, especially to women who are prone to yeast infections,” Dr. Twogood says. No need to wipe hard or towel off vigorously; blotting your vagina dry will do the trick. If you feel like you need a more intense wipe-down, wash with plain water and unscented soap, and dry thoroughly, she advises.
Just don’t use fragrant or scented soaps or go overboard lathering up. “The vagina, with its natural secretions and acidic environment,” Dr. Twogood says, will cleanse itself. “You don’t need to do anything after sex to ‘clean’ it out,'” she adds.
If you don’t want to sleep in the buff, pull on a nightgown or loose, breathable pajama bottoms. Just keep the clingy panties off until morning, or you might set you up for an infection. “Don’t slip on underwear,” warns Dr. Twogood. Going commando helps air out your vagina and let it breathe—which decreases the risk of a yeast infection or another itchy condition.
If your vagina feels weird, pay attention
No need to shine a flashlight on your lady parts and give yourself an exam. But listen to your body after sex, and take note of any discomfort, itching, pain, or bleeding. Depending on how long the symptoms lasts or if have a reason to be worried—say you forgot to use a condom and are concerned about STDs—touch base with your ob-gyn the next day and tell her what you’re experiencing.
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