It’s a delicate part of your body but you may not be taking as good care of it as you should be. Poor hygiene can cause a nasty infection when “bad” bacteria multiplies.

We ask three Singapore experts – clinical sexologist Dr Martha Lee, obstetrician and gynaecologists Dr Tan Yew Ghee and Dr Cindy Pang – on how to stay healthy down under.

1. CHECK YOUR UNDERWEAR WHEN YOU VISIT THE LOO
Get familiar with your vagina so that you’ll know when something’s wrong.

Some clear or slightly opaque and non-irritating vaginal discharge is normal. It signals a healthy self-cleansing process.

An itchy vagina and fishy-smelling, discoloured discharge – white, yellow or yellowish-green – are signs of an infection.

Note that the colour, smell and consistency varies due to your periods, oral contraceptive use, age and if you’re pregnant.        

2. EAT LESS REFINED SUGAR
It will help cut your risk of yeast infections. Yeast infection is caused by poor hygiene or a recent course of antibiotics.

Signs include white, curd-like discharge and a burning pain when you pee. Diabetics and pregnant women are at higher risk of getting it.

3. DRINK A GLASS OF CRANBERRY JUICE A DAY
It contains hippuric acid, which discourages bacteria from clinging to the lining of your urinary tract.

4. URINATE BEFORE AND AFTER SEX
This will help flush out bacteria and minimise the risk of urinary tract infection.

5. WEAR COTTON UNDERWEAR
Or ensure it has a cotton lining. This prevents moisture from getting trapped in the vaginal area.

6. CONSULT A DOCTOR IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE A VAGINAL INFECTION
Dr Cindy Pang warns that misdiagnosing yourself might lead to a delay in treatment and worsen the condition. Always see a doctor to confirm your suspicions. Image: Corbis    

Dr Cindy Pang is an associate consultant from the department of obstetrics and gynaecology at Singapore General Hospital. Visit the Singapore General Hospital website for more information on the clinic’s website: www.sgh.com.sg.

Dr Tan Yew Ghee is an obstetrician and gynaecologist of the Raffles Women’s Centre at the Raffles Hospital. For further enquiries, call the general enquiry hotline 6311 2222 or visit the hospital’s website at www.rafflesmedicalgroup.com.

Dr Martha Lee is a clinical sexologist and founder of Eros Coaching, a sexuality and intimacy coaching company. To find out more about the services offered by Eros Coaching, visit her website at www.eroscoaching.com or email her at drmarthalee@eroscoaching.com.

This article was originally published in SimplyHer October 2010.