1. Practice safe sex. Use a condom to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases/infections. Some STDs, like HIV, have no cure yet; others, like the human papillomavirus (HPV), can lead to more serious problems like cancer.
2. Use lube if you're not wet enough for sex. If you're not lubricated enough and you force yourself to have sex, the skin of your vagina and labia can get irritated and chafed—not to mention that sex when you're dry is painful! There are ways to solve your dryness for good if you know what's causing it. Otherwise, use lube. Don't be embarrassed if you need some help; the sex will feel good for you and your partner anyway. Make sure you use water-based lube with the condom so that you don't break the rubber or let it slip off.
3. Don't go from anal to vaginal sex without changing the condom. If you do, you'll expose your vagina to harmful bacteria that can give you infections.
4. Eat right for your vagina. Yogurt boosts the presence of good bacteria in your vagina, so it can prevent you from getting yeast infections. If you're suffering from vaginal dryness, you can eat some soy products like soy milk, tofu, and miso since these are natural estrogen replacements that can boost your hormones.
5. Don't douche. Your vagina already cleans itself, thanks to the good bacteria present. This means that you don't need to douche. Apart from not needing it, you're better off not doing it. There's actually very little scientific evidence that douching is even good for you. It can lead to vaginal infections, since it upsets the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina; it can cause an infection in your uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries, may result in pregnancy complications, and increase your chances of getting cervical cancer.
6. Wear cotton underwear. Your vagina needs to stay clean and dry to prevent bacteria overgrowth and infections. And you can do that by wearing cotton undies because those absorb moisture and are breathable.
7. Have good hygiene. Wipe from front to back after you take a dump. Change your sanitary pads or tampons regularly. Change out of your wet or damp workout clothes right away.
8. See your gynecologist every year or as often as needed. Your doctor will let you know if there's anything in your lifestyle that you might have to change or drop for good, and give you preventive measures you can take to avoid getting diseases or cancer.
9. Be careful with the soaping. Warm water is enough to clean your vagina; soap can dry the skin. But if you'd rather soap down there, use an unscented, plain soap, and make sure you rinse thoroughly.
Follow Stephanie on Twitter.