According to NBC, “get healthy” was the top New Year’s resolution for 2017. (The phrase was searched online over 62 million times!) It feels safe to say that 2018 is sure to be full of health-related resolutions, too.

While decreasing your caffeine intake or rolling out your yoga mat more often are great goals, don’t forget about your vaginal health. Here are three easy, research-backed ways to improve your vaginal health in 2018.

Boost your ‘good’ bacteria
Probiotics are naturally-occurring microorganisms in the genital tract that can help you fight and prevent yeast infections, urinary tract infections (UTIs), and bacterial vaginosis — all signs you have more “bad” than “good” bacteria in your vagina. Probiotics work to replenish the healthy bacteria in your vagina and fight off what’s harmful.

What’s an example of this beneficial bacteria? Lactobacillus, a common probiotic bacteria strain in the vagina, is responsible for producing lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide in the vagina. Hydrogen peroxide naturally cleans the vagina, the same way it’s able to disinfect open wounds or your kitchen. In other words, making sure your vagina has plenty of lactobacilli ensures it can keep up its self-cleaning capabilities. Promising data points to the benefits of taking probiotic supplements orally or vaginally. This is said to boost your vaginal flora (a fancy word for bacteria or microorganisms) and reduce yeast and pathogens that lead to infections.

Pay attention to pH

Speaking of lactobacillus, the only way it can exist in your vagina is if your vagina’s pH is acidic. The pH of your vagina naturally shifts as you go through puberty and your body begins to produce estrogen. But in order to keep the pH level for this helpful bacteria to thrive, you want to avoid using products that disrupt the acidic environment. Scented soaps, sprays, wipes, and douching can upset your pH balance and cause infections.

In 2018, try only washing your vagina with warm water and your hand. Seriously — the hydrogen peroxide-producing lactobacilli have the cleaning covered.

Say ‘yes’ to tampon transparency

As the age-old saying goes, “Information is power.” Over recent years, there’s been a positive shift towards ingredient transparency and understanding what’s in our food, skincare, makeup — even our clothes. When you flip your jar of peanut butter or body wash over, there’s something comforting and confidence-boosting about being able to access, comprehend, and pronounce the listed ingredients. In other words, it allows you to feel in control of your health.
Doesn’t your vagina deserves the same? In 2018, make it a point to check out the ingredients listed on the back of your tampon box — aim to do it for lube, too. Don’t be afraid to research or ask a trusted expert about an ingredient you don’t recognize. It’s empowering when you actually know and feel comfortable with what you’re putting in your body.

No matter your New Year’s resolution, keeping these simple strategies and swaps in mind will get you on your way to a healthier, happier vagina in 2018.

English Taylor is a San Francisco-based women’s health and wellness writer and birth doula. Her work has been featured in The Atlantic, Healthline, Refinery29, NYLON, and Modern Fertility. Follow English and her work at https://medium.com/@englishtaylor or on Instagram at @englishtaylor.