From changing tampons frequently to washing with warm water and nothing else, there are multiple ways to stay healthy down there.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on May 25, 2020. It has since been updated.
Feminine hygiene is an important topic that is barely spoken about. While marketers try to sell all kinds of chemicals-loaded products, on one hand, women are confused with too many options and little expert advice on the other. Keeping your genital region clean is not just important for your sexual health but also for your overall well-being. Problems in and around your vagina can affect fertility, desire for intercourse, and ability to reach orgasm, states MayoClinic. Chronic or ongoing issues can cause stress on relationships apart from affecting self-confidence.
Multiple things can affect the health of our genital region including barrier contraceptives, such as condoms, diaphragms, and associated spermicide. These can cause vaginal irritation and also allergic reactions. Other things that can cause irritation are sprays, deodorants, or douches. How does one keep the vaginal area clean? Do we need multiple products? Is water enough?
Here are six tips that answer these questions and help your genital area stay clean and healthy.
The vulva and the vagina are not the same. The vulva is the area of female sex organs that lie outside of the vagina. It includes the labia, the pubic area, the clitoris, and the openings of the vagina and urinary canal. To keep this area clean and dry, first, use warm water to wash, then use a clean towel to dry it. If the area is irritated, you can also use a blow dryer on cool mode. But you need to make sure your dryer is super clean and the fan inside is free of dust. The vagina is a self-cleaning organ, which cleanses itself through vaginal discharge, states Cleveland Clinic. It is recommended that we avoid douches unless prescribed by doctors since they can disturb the natural pH balance.
It is recommended that we wear only white, 100% cotton underwear instead of nylon, acetate, lace, silk, or manmade fabrics, especially if you have delicate skin or if you are prone to skin irritation, according to Cleveland Clinic. Thongs are a big no-no, especially when working out. They can whisk anal bacteria into the urethra as they are close-fitting and increases your risk for a UTI, states Bloom Obgyn. Colors used to bleach underwear can carry harmful chemicals unless you choose to go organic.
It is important to change period products at least 4-5 times a day and wash or wipe the genital area regularly during your period. However, avoid the scented versions of these products. It's important to know what ingredients go into these products, especially chemicals. For instance, some tampon brands use harmful chemicals called phthalates, known as "endocrine disruptors." When the tampons are bleached, the byproduct used, dioxins, can wreak havoc. Organic and unscented period products are the safest for us, quotes Cosmopolitan. Try to use products made of organic fabric like cotton even if that means you need to change them often as it lets your vaginal region breathe freely.
The skin in the vulvar region is more sensitive than the rest of the body, so while we may love our sweet-smelling intimate washes, it could be irritating the skin in and around your vagina. However, it's not just about soap or washes, but also heavily scented laundry detergents and fabric softeners that are bad news for feminine health. Also, avoid using products that claim to make the genital region smell like flowers as all the chemicals can cause infections in the long run.
We should wash our hands regularly, but it's very important to keep your hands extra clean before getting busy with your partner. Our hands touch a lot of things that are prone to germs, including doorknobs, products, handles, or keyboards. The bacteria in our hands can easily get transferred to our genital area during intercourse, which is why your partner, too, should wash his hands before you engage in intercourse. It's important to keep the nails short and clean, too.
Not wearing underwear while sleeping is a good way to allow the skin down there to breathe. As vaginal discharge and sweat can get settled in the underwear, skipping them can keep the area dry and moisture-free. Moisture makes the area prone to bacterial infections. If you are facing irritation in the genital area, it is best to seek out medical help rather than self-diagnose or use homemade methods.
Source: Getty Images | Photo by iliveinoctoberDisclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.