When it comes to vaginal health, there is so much contradictory information floating around the internet. Some of it is marketing from companies that want you to buy their products, but they are not necessarily healthy or necessary to use in your intimate area. Some of the other bad information is due to advice that is counterintuitive (e.g. cleaning or douching vaginas seems necessary but is actually bad).
Here we break down the top tips to keep your intimate area healthy, and other information you may not have known.
Do Not Douche
Believe it or not, the vagina is a self-cleaning organ. It doesn’t need extra cleaning, particularly with cleansing products that have potentially harmful ingredients. Douching is not only unnecessary, but it can also do more harm than good.
The vagina maintains a delicate pH thanks to ‘good’ bacteria living there. The good bacteria that’s already living here keep external bacterial infections in check. They compete with harmful bacteria and prevent their distribution. When you douche, you take away the good bacteria, paving the way for more harmful bacteria from the environment to take over. If you do need to clean, ensure that you limit it to the external part of the vagina (the vulva).
Change Sanitary Pads and Tampons After a Few Hours
This may come as a no-brainer for some women, but it is a point that should be reiterated. Ideally, you should aim to change sanitary pads after 4-6 hours. For tampons, change them every six hours. Not only will it start to smell really bad, but they can also lead to infections. Ensure you clean the area thoroughly before inserting another sanitary pad or tampon.
Clean the Vaginal Area After Intercourse
It is really important that you clean the vagina after sex. Otherwise chemicals from condoms and other products, as well as bacteria can linger around to cause infections. Often times, women feel the need to pee after sex and this is natural. It helps to wash away any harmful bacteria that could have accumulated due to sex.
Keep Your Underwear Dry
You should aim to keep your underwear as dry as possible. Otherwise, the warm and moist conditions are the perfect breeding ground for harmful bacteria. It is also better to use underwear made from breathable materials like cotton rather than synthetics.
Avoid Scented Products and Harsh Detergents
Some scented products can have harsh chemicals that cause irritation or affect the delicate pH balance of the vagina. Detergents with harsh cleaning agents (like some soaps) can also take away the ‘good’ bacteria of the vagina, leaving you more prone to infections.
If you do decide to use things like essential oils (that can have antibacterial properties), ensure you limit the use to the area around the vagina (inner thighs, lower abs). Never put them inside the vaginal canal or near the labia.