A post-coital high can temporarily make you forgo hygiene essentials, but there are certain things that you should NOT do after engaging in sexual intercourse, like douching or washing your private parts with soap.
Sexual health plays a vital role at every stage of life, irrespective of age. According to a study published in the Indian Journal of Clinical Practice based on women in their 40's and 50's, 28.57% reported being fully sexually active, while 57.14% reported they were partially sexually active. It's always a good practice to be aware of seemingly harmless habits that could have an ill-effect on our body.
Douching has its root in the French word "douche." It means to wash or soak. In this case, vaginal douching is a way to wash out the inside of the vagina with water or branded douches that contain antiseptics and fragrances. The point of douching, for most women, is that they can clean out any odors, wash away menstrual blood, flush out any bacteria from a sexually transmitted disease or even prevent pregnancy after intercourse.
So many women, after engaging in sexual intercourse, choose to use this method to keep themselves safe. Women's Health states that in the United States, nearly 1 out of 5 women in the age range of 15 to 44, do some form of douching.
However, as good or clean as it may make you feel, doctors actually recommend that we don't do it. This is because douching can disrupt the necessary balance of healthy bacteria (vaginal flora) and natural acidity of your vagina. A good balance of the bacteria and acidity can protect your vagina from infections or irritations, but douching can open it up to harmful bacteria. It can lead to yeast infections or push existing infection to other parts of your reproductive system, which can then lead to more severe health conditions. In some cases, it can even lead to a higher risk of ovarian cancer, according to a study published in the journal Epidemiology, shared by NCBI.
During sexual intercourse, since germs from both you and your partner are forced into your urethra and vagina, letting it sit can cause the germs to spread. It also increases your risk of contracting a urinary tract infection (UTI). "This can result in post-intercourse bladder infections," says Dr. Robert Wool, ob-gyn, "You can have some snuggle time, just empty your bladder within an hour of sex."
By peeing after sex, you are flushing out any germs from your system and it can ensure that the natural environment of the vagina is maintained.
It is suggested that once you pee, it is important to wipe yourself from front to back in order to avoid transferring the bacteria around your anus to your sensitive vagina. "Due to swelling and micro-abrasions that can occur during intercourse, your vulva and vaginal skin is particularly tender and prone to infection," says Kansas-based gynecologist Leslie E. F. Page.
A warm bath after sex might sound extremely heavenly and romantic. However, Page tells Women's Health Magazine, "When your vulva swells in response to sexual stimulation, it reveals the opening of the vagina, which means you have a greater chance of infection," which is the kind of stimulation that a warm bath will give. So if you and your partner are sitting in together in the warm water, there is a higher risk that you may contract something from the bacteria on his skin and anus, which can enter your vagina and cause reproductive health concerns. In addition to that, Page states that "extensive water exposure reduces the efficiency of your skin’s antimicrobial barrier."
You might feel the need to "freshen up" in your "downtown" but Page warns against it. She speaks to Women's Health Magazine and says that soap can irritate your private parts and even trigger some allergic reactions. "When the vaginal tissues have been lubricated, swollen, and rubbed against during intercourse, it changes how that tissue reacts to the environment," she says. "Primarily, you run a much greater risk of infection. The vagina is a self-cleaning organ, and needs to be treated very, very gently - if you wouldn't put it in your mouth, you shouldn't put it in or around your vagina," Leslie added.
Cleaning up after sex might be made easy by wet wipes but they can do more harm than good for you. Considering how sensitive your vagina is post-coitus, the chemicals from the wet wipes will irritate the skin and maybe even cause rashes. It can increase itchiness and may lead to other health complications. However, there are other methods of cleaning up and Page shares one of them.
"If you're set on cleaning up with something other than good ol' toilet paper, try DIY'ing your own wipe with warm water and vinegar," says Page. She continues to explain, "Mix one teaspoon of vinegar with a quart of water, pour some on to a washcloth and wipe your vulva over the toilet, and then pat dry. The vinegar is mildly cleansing and helps maintain the skin's natural acidity."
Even doing a simple rinse-down can keep your vagina healthy.
If you do notice any continuing itchiness or redness around your vagina, it is important to visit a gynecologist and discuss the possible causes.