You know as well as I do that vaginas lead a life of their own. They know how to clean themselves, protect themselves, and self-heal. Most importantly, they can tell you crucial things about your health in subtle ways. Here are 7 things they’d whisper in your ear – if they could.

1. You Need To Change Your Diet

What we eat affects our microbiome. The vagina is the first organ to betray your diet of pizza, pasta, bagels, chocolate, and/or wine. Overdosing on sugar and white flour can damage more than your waistline. Your vagina’s yeast balance is delicate and gorging on your favorite fast food is a contributing factor to yeast infections, especially if your vaginal pH is off. If you find yourself in the throes of one, changing your diet to include more lean meat and vegetables might do you a world of good.

For example, asparagus releases a very specific smell when broken down that can make your urine smell off. Urine can linger near the opening of the vagina and contribute to an unnatural odor.

2. You’re Too Stressed Out

Stress can take a toll on our physical, mental, and emotional health. Bacteria play a key role in vaginal health and lack thereof. Lactobacillus is the dominant bacterium in the female genital tract, and it is crucial for creating a natural defense against harmful bacteria and for maintaining normal pH balance in the tract. That balance is lost when we’re under excessive stress. When the body struggles with a lack of balance, the good bacteria fail to prevent yeast (Candida genus) overgrowth, and the vagina begins to become irritated, may cause a cottage cheese like discharge and itching as a result.

3. You Should Choose Your Undies More Wisely

Thongs, synthetic fiber, and restrictive, uncomfortable underwear, in general, are best avoided. Thongs, in particular, are very inviting to bacteria and can facilitate quick overgrowth. If you have frequent infections, choose breathable cotton and other natural fabrics. Wear tight silk or lace undies only on special occasions and for a limited amount of time – you catch my drift.

4. You’re Infected

Whenever you have an infection or another condition, your vagina lets you know through either discharge or pain. You know as much. But why? Before menopause, vaginal skin is rich in glycogen, with the help of lactobacillus, transforms glucose into lactic acid. This causes the vaginal environment to be acidic, which in turns helps inhibit infections and maintain normal vaginal balance. Antibiotics, sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, foreign bodies, sexual activity, use of certain hygienic products, use of contraceptives, and even colds can compromise this delicate balance.

According to experts, yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and trichomoniasis are behind the vast majority of vagina infections, more specifically 95%. All of these conditions have certain signs and symptoms. A frothy discharge that smells like eggs is probably trichomoniasis. A gray, greenish, or yellowish fishy-smelling discharge is normally a sign of bacterial vaginosis, while vaginal itchiness accompanied by a discharge similar to cottage cheese is probably a yeast infection. All of these conditions are easy to treat with antibiotics or anti-fungals (for yeast). To find out what exact antibiotic you need, talk to a doctor. In the meantime, there are remedies to turn to if you want to minimize the smell, because the odor may take a bit longer to disappear.

5. You Should Have Used A (Different) Condom

If your vagina smells weird, you have discharge, burning, or inexplicable pain, but your doctor has ruled out infection, then what? Having sex without a condom could be to blame as sexual activity can bring such occurrences on. Sometimes, these sensations are accompanied by vaginal blisters and sores. Normally, vaginal discharge is transparent or white, thin or thick, and mostly odorless. It can be different based on various contraceptives, pregnancy, or the time of the month. On the other hand, vaginal discharge that causes cuts or ulcerations, itching, vaginal bleeding, burning sensations, pain, or swelling requires medical attention. While this is by no means a medical emergency, addressing the issue as soon as possible is recommended.

If you’re allergic to latex, condoms can cause a series of problems. It’s estimated that 6% of all women have this allergy and suffer from rashes, itching, and blistering in the vaginal area after using a condom. If you often have these issues following sexual intercourse, switch to latex-free condoms. You’ll feel relief from the painful side effects without compromising on protection.

6. That Time Of The Month Is Coming

Women experience vaginal discharge while they are ovulating and also right before their period. There is thicker discharge before your period while it is thinner during ovulation, which is typically two weeks before/after your period. It’s also when your chances of pregnancy are highest. The vagina is most sensitive and pain-prone before that time of the month. If your period is regular, this discharge likely doesn’t come as a surprise, but keep in mind not all women’s periods are. Sometimes, it will be a week early. Sometimes, it’ll be a week late. Increased sensitivity and discharge could be a sign it’s coming. With time, we learn what the signs are – later rather than sooner if we’re not good at listening to our vaginas.

7. You’re Aroused

Your vagina knows you’re aroused before your brain does. There is a tingling sensation as blood flow to the genitals increases. This is the essence of reaching and maintaining arousal. Sometimes, there is a warm sensation spreading to the lower abdomen. These feelings can come as a result of vaginal stimulation, but it’s not necessary. It could happen after you watched or listened to something arousing.

Our vaginas tell us many things beyond these seven, including that we’re pregnant before we start missing periods. It’s amazing how much there is to learn about them.