We as ‘vulva owners’ are very particular about how our face looks, the makeup, our OOTDs, and what not but let’s be honest, do we really give importance to our intimate hygiene?
Well if you say yes, then KUDOS to you!
But I know many of you deep down know that you don’t pay much attention to your lady garden down there.
And I am sure many of you without knowing are practising certain habits that are not good for intimate hygiene and health.
In this article, I am going to tell you 11 tips to maintain your intimate hygiene that all vulva owners must know.
And guys I’m not exaggerating, never ever try to mess or overlook your intimate hygiene, because vaginal infections are very severe and they can directly affect your fertility.
If you are a teenager, start to take care of your intimate hygiene right from now.
Read more: Feminine hygiene tips for teenagers.
And if you are the mother of a daughter, first practice it yourself then teach your girl the same.
Let us begin.
OK before beginning I quickly want to make a thing clear that you are not supposed to clean your vagina, it is your birth canal that is not even seen from outside.
She’s already a queen and she knows how to clean herself.
You need to clean only the outer part which is known as the vulva.
The super awesome thing about the vagina is that they are self-cleaning like magic with the help of good bacteria it maintains a pH level of 3.5 – 4.5
TIPS TO MAINTAIN INTIMATE HYGIENE
1. STOP VAGINAL DOUCHING
I know the word douching may sound unfamiliar to you but don’t worry let me explain.
Douching means forcing a spray of water or any liquid in the vagina to clean it.
This spraying action can ruin the necessary balance of the vagina by eliminating the good bacteria. It can also cause an overgrowth of harmful bacteria that can lead to yeast infections.
As said earlier vagina is a queen and it has a self-cleaning mechanism.
Vaginal discharge is a part of this cleaning mechanism and it’s perfectly normal.
So now that you have understood what vaginal douching means, if you are doing anything of that sort, please stop it right away. Let your body do the work.
You are not supposed to put anything in your vagina to clean it
2. WEAR CLEAN AND DRY COTTON PANTIES
Do cotton panties seem boring to you??
Well of course it may be boring in front of all those stylish satin and lacy stuff, but let’s accept it, the truth is that it is very harmful to our genital health.
Cotton is a breathable material that means your genital skin can breathe while wearing a cotton panty.
Especially if you are someone who has a long day in the office or college, make sure to wear nice comfortable right-sized cotton panties.
Sure you can also wear other material stuff sometimes for a few hours but if you have a long day planned make sure you go with the cotton one.
Also after washing make sure to dry them under the sun.
Sun is a natural sanitiser, it kills the bacterias present on the cloth and keeps them fresh and clean.
3. CHANGE PADS FREQUENTLY
Although every company swears by their product that their sanitary pads can be used up to 12 hours and no doubt it is designed to work for 12 hours but according to the doctor’s advice you should change it every 4-6 hours.
I know this way sometimes pads get wasted because on the 4th-5th day the flow becomes scanty so in that case, you can use panty liners.
If you do not change the pad frequently, there are high chances of you getting a reproductive tract infection because while you wear a pad, the blood is getting collected outside the body which will react with the atmospheric oxygen and will disturb the pH down there. There’s also a chance of getting bad pad rashes which are painful
Further, you may have heard of this technology where the liquid gets converted into gel so this advancement involves the use of a lot of chemicals.
Nowadays menstrual cups can be a great alternative to pads.
When using a menstrual cup, make sure to wash your hands before inserting it.
[Suggested Reading- Period mistakes you might be doing]
4. AVOID USING SCENTED SOAPS
You don’t need to wash your genitals with fragranced soaps or shampoos because it disturbs the normal pH level.
Also please don’t trust everything blindly that you see on the internet, don’t fall into that trap.
Never use any kind of DIY scrubs and lightning tactics where you are asked to put your kitchen items and eatables (turmeric powder, coffee powder, yoghurt, lemon juice, sugar, etc) on your genital skin because that area of the body is very sensitive. Those false promises of people will only harm you.
It’s absolutely ridiculous and misleading.
Be responsible and think logically.
So what you can use?
See practically you don’t need anything extra. Washing with simple normal water is enough.
Having said that, if you want you can use a mild soap like baby soap or vaginal wash.
There are so many vaginal washes available in the market, however, you don’t need to use them daily but of course, during menstruation, you can use them.
5. SAY NO TO SCENTED FEMININE PRODUCTS
Scented products do nothing but irritate your skin and vagina. Using such products changes the natural pH which is likely to lead to infections.
Products such as
- Scented pads, tampons
- Hair removal creams
- Skin lightening and brightening serums
While all these products seem interesting and promising in advertisements, in reality, they can harm you. So be careful while using any of these products.
Ask yourself why do you want to use these scented products?
You should know that a healthy vagina has a very mild musky smell which is not at all unpleasant.
Any strong or foul smell is a sign that something is not right and going out of balance.
6. PRACTICE SAFE INTERCOURSE
- Avoid multiple partners
- Always use a protection
- Clean yourself after the intercourse
- Go to pee before and after sex
If you are indulging sexually with someone who you don’t know make sure to enquire about their sexual health and never go for unprotected sex. This will ensure that you don’t get sexually transmitted infections. Having multiple partners increases the risk of getting an STI.
It’s better to be safe than sorry perfectly fits here.
The next most important thing that can save you from getting an infection is cleaning yourself after intercourse.
Ensure to pass urine before and after sex.
Not peeing before you have sex can push the bacterias up your vagina and this can lead to UTI (urinary tract infection), so emptying your bladder will make sure that the bacteria is driven out through your urethra. Now all you have to do is find a way to incorporate this bathroom habit before things get going in the bedroom.
Once you’re done you should again go to pee and then wipe yourself, which brings me to the next point
7. ARE YOU WIPING THE RIGHT WAY?
Whenever you are wiping make sure to start from front to back and not from back to front.
So here is the thing, the butt may consist of some bacterias that are not healthy for the vagina.
When you wipe from back to front which means from the butt towards the vulva, you are inviting bacteria to enter your vagina and cause several infections.
8. RIGHT WAY TO USE PUBLIC WASHROOMS
Using a public washroom increases the chance of getting an infection.
From a personal point of view, I avoid going to the public washrooms as much as I can and I would advise you to do the same.
But in any case, if you are using a public washroom ensure proper hygiene.
For that use toilet seat covers which are easily available in the market and online as well.
Just spread the sheet while sitting on the seat and once done you can throw it in a dustbin.
The next saviour product is a pee cone, this is not very usual but it does a great job.
So it looks something like this-
It comes both in reusable and use and throw forms. It’s totally up to you which one you wish to buy.
9. AVOID TIGHT CLOTHES
Tight clothes restrict your skin from breathing and did you know this is the main reason why over time the genital skin becomes darker in colour.
Avoid wearing tight-fitting jeans or leggings or even undergarments for a long duration.
It is advised not to wear undergarments while sleeping and just let your skin breathe comfortably. It reduces your chances of developing yeast and vaginal infection.
If that is something that is possible and comfortable for you, awesome! and if it’s not, just try to wear something very loose. The whole point is to just let your skin breathe for some hours.
10. PUBIC HAIR
See there’s a reason why pubic hair is there. It prevents dirt and microscopic organisms from entering the vagina and shields it from skin damage.
Having said that, I feel that it is your personal choice to keep or remove pubic hair.
Some women don’t like pubic hair while some are okay with it.
Both are totally fine.
You can also choose a middle option which is to just trim and make the length shorter.
There are many ways to remove pubic hair. However, you must know all the pros and cons before going to shave or wax. The best way is to go for a laser treatment but it is quite expensive.
So choose what you want for yourself and what works best for you.
11. DON’T IGNORE SIGNS AND TRY SELF MEDICATIONS
A lot of women are very negligent when it comes to their genital health. And I think it’s because they don’t even know about their body.
The body is so smart and sensitive that it responds even to the slightest change. The body starts giving us signs.
So how would you know that you have a problem?
Anything that gives you discomfort down there is a sign which includes:-
- Burning sensation especially when you go to pee
- Bad odor
- Excessive or colored discharge
- Painful intercourse
- Swelling, soreness
When you start seeing these signs, it’s an alarm for you to fix if anything is going wrong and visit a gynaecologist.
Now after you have identified that there is some problem don’t hit the internet for solutions and self-care.
It is important to know the cause and then treat it.
It is advised to get a regular pap smear test. This rules out the possibility of cervical cancer which is common in Indian women
Good genital health ensures good overall health and should be part of one’s everyday hygiene rituals.
This is still a taboo subject in India.
Thanks to the unhealthy mix of patriarchy and bad sex education curriculums.
Many women still refrain from talking about it.
As a woman, I feel the importance to normalize topics related to women’s health and hygiene
If you also want that change, let that change start from you, and let’s talk more openly about topics that are wrapped under layers of orthodox thinking.
How can you do that?
It’s just that simple. Share it with your friends and family and make the community strong.
[Read this article in Hindi – Intimate hygiene tips for women in hindi]
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
Is it safe to use intimate wash every day?
First of all, you don’t need to use an intimate wash every day. Normal water with a mild chemical-free soap is enough. However, if you have suffered from yeast infection or any other infection your gynaecologist may suggest using an intimate wash. So in that case you should do whatever your doctor suggests.
Is it safe for a teenager to use an intimate wash?
Whether you are a teenager or a middle-aged woman, you don’t need any kind of a vaginal wash.
Having said that, it is completely safe to use any intimate wash once in a while and on your period days.
How can I ensure good intimate hygiene?
To have good intimate hygiene follow these 11 tips.
1. Avoid douching
2. Wear clean cotton panty
3. Change pads frequently
4. Avoid using scented soaps
5. Say NO to scented feminine products
6. Practice safe intercourse
7. Wipe the right way
8. Use public washroom safely
9. Avoid tight clothes
10. Pubic hair
11. Don’t ignore signs and try self medications.