How to wash and groom your vagina and vulva

Do you really need to wash your vagina?

No, but you do need to wash your vulva.

Let us recap some basic anatomy. The vagina is the inner canal inside your body.

The term “vulva” refers to the outer parts around the vagina, such as the:

While you should not wash inside your vagina, it’s a good idea to wash your vulva.

Washing the vagina can lead to many problems. You might have heard that the vagina is like a self-cleaning oven — a pretty accurate metaphor.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists points out that your vagina cleans itself and keeps itself healthy by maintaining the correct pH balance and cleaning itself with natural secretions.

Your vagina contains a lot of “good” bacteria. These bacteria maintain the ideal pH balance in your vagina, which is slightly acidic.

The acidic pH makes it hard for “bad” bacteria to infect your vagina.

When you use soaps, sprays, or gels and yes, even water to wash inside your vagina, you disrupt the bacterial balance. This can result in bacterial vaginosisyeast infection, and other irritation.

Washing your vagina can also affect your vagina’s ability to clean itself.

So, if you want a clean vagina, leave it alone to clean itself!

How do you wash your vulva?

You should wash your vulva with warm water. If you would like, you can use Essence of Nature ph. balanced “WET” that won’t irritate the skin.

Spread your lips apart and gently cleanse around the folds, using a clean washcloth or your hands.  In addition to washing your vulva, it is a good idea to wash the anus and the area between your vulva and anus every day.  It is best to wash “front to back;” in other words, wash your vulva first and then your anus. Otherwise, bacteria from the anus can spread to your vagina, which can cause infections.

Wait!  So, you don’t need to use soap?

Nope! You don’t have to use bar soap to wash your vulva, according to Mayo Clinic. If you want to use soap, choose a mild, and colorless liquid soap.  Stay away from synthetic fragranced soaps that can irritate the sensitive skin in and around the vulva.

But there is an odor!  Will everyone be able to smell it?

Probably not. Your vagina might smell distinctly like a vagina, and that’s OK.

It’s unlikely that someone else will be able to smell it unless they’re very close to your vagina — so your sexual partner will probably smell it.

But that is perfectly normal, and it’s not something to worry about.

No vagina is odorless, nor should they be. Vaginas have many possible smells, from coppery to sweet. The smell of your vagina might change depending on your diet and menstrual cycle. If the smell is pungent and unpleasant, contact a doctor or other healthcare provider. Certain conditions, such as bacterial vaginosis, can cause your vagina to smell strongly. Your provider can advise you on any next steps.

What if I have a lot of discharge? Is that normal?

Vaginal discharge is totally normal. If you’re concerned about your discharge, take a look at the color.

More often than not, clear and white discharge is the natural lubrication that your vagina produces to keep the tissues moist and healthy.

Clear discharge could also be a result of ovulation. This is just a sign that your vagina is doing its job.

Your discharge might also appear reddish-brown around your period, as it will be colored by your blood.

You might need to chat with a doctor if your discharge is gray, green, or yellow in color, or if it’s accompanied by itching, pain, or any other unusual symptoms.

What if I’m on my period?  Do I need to do anything different?

You can wash your vulva in the same way while menstruating. If you’re concerned about potential odor, you may consider washing your vulva more than once a day.

What happens if you wash your vulva with something other than mild soap and water?

Some people use fragranced soap to wash their vulvas without any problems, but it’s still not a good idea. Fragranced, harsh soaps can irritate the sensitive skin around the vulva.

What about douching?

Vaginal douching involves squirting a solution into the vagina, usually with the intention of cleaning the vagina. This does not work and isn’t safe.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends against using douches. There are several complications related to douches, from STI susceptibility to problems with pregnancy.

One 2008 study on vaginal health looked at 2,561 participants. It found that those who douched frequently before pregnancy were more likely to give birth to a premature baby.

One 2016 study found that participants who douched often were more likely to contract human papilloma virus (HPV).

In short, douching does not make for a healthy reproductive system. Like fragranced feminine washes, they’re unnecessary and harmful.

Remember the “good” bacteria mentioned earlier? Douches, like soaps, can irritate and kill off that good bacteria, leaving your vagina more vulnerable to infection.

What about vaginal steaming?

It involves steeping certain herbs in hot water and sitting over the water so that the steam enters your vagina. It’s said to ease cramps, bloating, and other conditions.

Vaginal steaming is an age-old natural remedy said to cleanse the vagina and uterus, regulate menstruation, and ease period cramps and bloating. There is no hard evidence. 

But other than offering a soothing warmth down below, does it work? And is it even safe?  Keep reading to find out.

Personal opinion:  It feels good as long as the water is not steaming hot where it will burn. The water is supposed to be at a simmer, not boiling. It is like having a vaginal facial.

Is there anything else that I should know?

There are several things you can do to keep your vagina and vulva healthy.

Wipe from front to back

When using the toilet, do not wipe from back to front, as this can spread bacteria from your anus to your vagina.

This can cause several infections. Instead, always wipe from front to back.

The same goes for any sexual activity.

The “front to back” rule does not just apply to wiping.

Nothing that goes in or near your anus should go in or near your vagina afterwards unless you clean it first.

This is especially important when it comes to sex and masturbation — toys, fingers, tongues, penises, and anything else that might go near your anus should be washed before it goes into your vagina.

Always pee after sex.

Pee after sex to push any germs outside of your urinary tract.

During sex, germs can come into contact with your urinary tract, a small hole just above your vagina. Peeing after sex helps flush those germs out.

If you don’t pee after sex, you could get a urinary tract infection (UTI)  an easily treatable, but painful condition.

Choose your products wisely

If anything goes into your vagina, be sure to check out the ingredients before you use it. Fragrant lube, condoms, and tampons should be avoided.

Wear cotton underwear

Cotton underwear is both gentle and comfortable on your sensitive pubic area and it’s breathable, which lets the moisture “air out” instead of building up.

Nylon and other synthetic fabrics can irritate the sensitive skin around your vulva.

Change out of sweaty or wet clothes ASAP

Damp, warm conditions are ideal for breeding bad bacteria. To prevent these bacteria from overgrowing and infecting your vagina, change out of your wet swimsuit or sweaty gym pants as soon as you can.

Is there anything that I should see a doctor about?

See a doctor or other healthcare provider if you experience:

  • pain when you urinate, have sex, or masturbate.
  • a pungent and unpleasant smell coming from your vagina.
  • blisters, sores, or warts around your genitals.
  • green, yellow, or gray discharge.
  • thick discharge that looks like cottage cheese.
  • persistent vaginal itching.
  • unexplained vaginal bleeding.

It is also a good idea to see a doctor about your vaginal health if you have any other questions and concerns, as well as for a regular Pap smear to screen for cervical cancer.

Reference:
Amiri FN, et al. (‎2009)‎. Hygiene practices and sexual activity associated with urinary tract infection in pregnant women. DOI:
10665/117613
Bui T, et al. (2016). Association between vaginal douching and genital human papillomavirus infection among women in the United States. DOI:
10.1093/infdis/jiw388
Keeping your vagina clean and healthy. (2018). 
nhs.uk/live-well/sexual-health/keeping-your-vagina-clean-and-healthy/
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2016). You don‘t need fancy products for good feminine hygiene.
mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/you-dont-need-fancy-products-for-good-feminine-hygiene
Thorp J, et al. (2008). Alteration in vaginal microflora, douching prior to pregnancy, and preterm birth. DOI:
10.1111/j.1365-3016.2008.00970.x
Vandenburg T, et al. (2016). ‘Basically, it’s sorcery for your vagina’: unpacking Western representations of vaginal steaming. DOI:
10.1080/13691058.2016.1237674
Vulvovaginal health. (2015).  
acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Vulvovaginal-Health
https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-clean-your-vagina#see-a-doctor
https://www.healthline.com/medical-team
https://www.healthline.com/authors/sian-ferguson
Photo Credit: Ava Sol

Indsend en kommentar