A woman’s reproductive tract goes through a lot of things—menstruation, pregnancy, and childbirth—that it’s a must to keep it clean and healthy. But contrary to what others think, “less is more” when it comes to proper vulva and vaginal care.
But before diving into the basics of vaginal hygiene, let’s get the terminologies straight. The vulva comprises the external genitalia, which protects the opening to the vagina and the rest of the reproductive tract. Meanwhile, the vagina is the canal that connects the vulva to the cervix.
Now that that’s out of the way, read on to learn more about promoting optimal health and hygiene “down there.”
1. Keep It Clean
Contrary to popular belief, women don’t need to apply too many products to keep their vulvovaginal area clean. Follow these science-backed tips:
- Wash with warm water using your hands. Putting soap is optional; experts advise using a mild soap if preferred. Scented soaps and special scrubs will only throw off the vagina’s pH balance.
- Avoid washing the inside of the vagina. This will disrupt the genitalia’s delicate natural pH levels, which can then cause irritation and infection. Vaginal discharges are a sign that the vagina is cleaning itself.
- After using the toilet, wipe from front to back—or clean to dirty—to avoid contaminating the urethra.
2. Practice Clean Sex
The vulva is the main center for pleasure, so it’s important to protect it from bacteria and chemicals during sex. Here are some tips to consider before, during, and after intercourse:
- Avoid lubricants and condoms that contain unhealthy ingredients, which include glycerin, parabens, scents, and petroleum products.
- Use a separate condom for vaginal and anal sex. The anus can carry bacterial strains that can infect the vagina and vice versa.
- After sex, it’s advisable to urinate to flush out any bacteria that may have been transferred to the urethra. Clean the vulva with water and dry the area thoroughly.
3. Bush or No Bush
Women may need to think twice before shaving all their pubic hair off. Hair down there helps protect the vulva from harmful bacteria and viruses. It also cushions the sensitive skin from friction during sex.
While keeping pubic hair does not pose any danger to one’s health, some women may feel the need to remove it due to unpleasant odor and moisture buildup. There are different ways to groom it, including shaving, waxing, or trimming; the choice is completely up to women.
However, those who prefer shaving may experience razor burns, itching once the hair grows back, and inflammation from ingrown hairs.
4. Consider Natural Treatments
Without proper vaginal hygiene, women can experience uncomfortable symptoms, such as abnormal vaginal discharge.
If the discharge is thick, white, and odorless—or if they see a white coating in and around the vagina—that may be a sign of a yeast infection.
Meanwhile, if the discharge looks like gray foam and smells fishy, this may be a sign of bacterial vaginosis (BV). However, it’s best to visit a gynecologist to confirm the diagnosis since it’s also common for BV not to have symptoms.
In such cases, women may consider natural boric acid treatment for BV and yeast infections. Consult your healthcare provider before trying suppositories or remedies to ensure they don’t have adverse effects.
5. Wear the Right Underwear
The vulvovaginal area also needs breathing room, which is why choosing the right type of underwear is important. Wearing too tight-fitting undies can cause moisture buildup, leading to yeast infection.
Other important tips to consider include:
- Wear cotton underwear instead of polyester or silk to ensure breathability.
- Avoid tight-fitting underwear, including thongs, which may collect fecal matter and transfer it to the vagina.
- Change your underwear daily, especially after a sweaty workout or heavy discharges.
- Change into dry clothes after a swim.
6. Visit Your OB-GYN Regularly
Routine care is important to keep reproductive health at its peak.
Women should see their gynecologist for a well-woman exam starting at the ages of 18 to 21 or when they start becoming sexually active. Of course, it’s advisable to schedule an exam sooner when gynaecological symptoms arise, such as the following:
- Irregularities in menstruation
- Severe vaginal or pelvic pain
- Unusual vaginal discharge or bleeding
- Breast swelling, lumps, tenderness, or itching
7. Go for the Holistic Approach
Staying fit and healthy also contributes to the health of a woman’s sexual organs. In fact, chronic conditions, like diabetes, can put the reproductive organs at risk for yeast infection and urinary tract infections (UTI).
To maintain good vaginal health, women must eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly. And, as they say, the rest will follow.
Stay On Top of Your Vaginal Health
The female genitalia may not need much maintenance, but it requires a lot of lovin’. Women must give it gentle care to keep it clean, fresh, and healthy. Most of all, it’s important to constantly be on the lookout for potential symptoms down there and get them treated before they get worse.