Feminine hygiene can be quite confusing. With so many products and accessories out there, making the right choices can be a challenge.
Gynecologists and dermatologists do agree that many of these creations are purely put together for commercial reasons. You don’t really need fancy washes and tens of ingredients to keep your vagina healthy. In fact, using too much stuff down there can lead to problems.
Good feminine hygiene practices have remained unchanged for decades and if you’d like to ensure optimal health and wellbeing, here are the things you’ll need to do on a regular.
Avoid Most Feminine Hygiene Products
According to Mayo Clinic, most feminine hygiene washes and deodorants are not a good choice.
These products can contain perfumes and the types of washing agents (surfactants) that are way too aggressive and drying. Potentially, such products can change the microflora and the very delicate pH of your vagina. As a result, you could experience issues like dryness and more frequent infections.
There are some specialized vaginal washes on the market that have mild ingredients and an optimal pH. If you want to use such a product, talk to your ob-gyn and get a professional recommendation. Having a good understanding of ingredients is also important. A general rule of thumb is that the fewer ingredients an intimate wash contain, the better.
And here’s one final thing that may come as a shock – you don’t need an intimate wash at all.
The vagina is self-cleaning. It lubricates itself and this discharge also helps get rid of bacteria or contaminants. A regular, healthy discharge isn’t smelly or gross. If you’re experiencing some unpleasant smell, an intimate wash is the last thing to try. Do see your gynecologist since you could be dealing with a nasty fungal infection.
Wash Your Intimate Region Correctly
If you need a few more recommendations on how to wash your genitals, here they are.
Avoid perfumes, soaps, and regular shower gels. When in the shower, use your hands to gently clean the region around the vulva. There’s no need to try douching or another kind of internal cleansing. This is unnecessary and even harmful.
When having your period, you can repeat the washing ritual a few times. You will feel cleaner and there will also be a reduced risk of irritation (especially if you prefer pads over tampons).
Don’t forget to clean the perineal and the anal regions, as well.
If you use panty liners on a daily basis or pads when you’re menstruating, make sure these are being changed often enough. Get a replacement every few hours, even more often during the first days of your period. A pad that remains close to your body for far too long will create the perfect conditions for bacterial overgrowth.
Feminine Hygiene and Sex
There’s another important aspect of feminine hygiene and it pertains to sexual practices.
Having a shower before sex could be a good idea to make you feel more comfortable and confident. The more important stuff, however, is the one that you do during and after sex.
You probably know already that it’s a good idea to get up and pee after having sex. That’s not a myth and such a simple practice can reduce the risk of having to deal with UTIs.
During and after sex, you have to stick to healthy practices. The same toys should not be used for anal and vaginal sex in the same session, without being washed. The rectum harbors bacteria that should never reach your vagina.
The very same rule applies to switching between anal and vaginal sex. If you do so, a change of condom will be required. Also, don’t forget to use condoms every single time. Oral contraceptives can prevent pregnancy but they’re not a good choice for warding off STIs.
Sex toys need to be cleaned properly after each use. Don’t postpone the procedure, even if it’s cumbersome. Uncleaned toys will harbor dust and bacteria that will be very difficult to get rid of a few days later. If you want to buy body-safe sex toys you can find them here.
A Few Additional Tips and Recommendations
As you can see, there isn’t an awful lot you need to do in order to maintain optimal feminine hygiene.
Sticking to common sense and a few good habits can help you keep your vagina perfectly healthy.
In that line, be careful about the underwear you wear on a daily basis.
Sexy lingerie can be a lot of fun for a hot night with a lover. Such panties, however, aren’t great for everyday wear unless they’re made of breathable fabrics.
Materials like cotton are optimal for everyday underwear. They allow the skin to breathe and prevent the accumulation of moisture. If moisture gets trapped too close to your genitals, there’s a risk of serious bacterial overgrowth. Many companies make high-quality cotton panties that are cute and sexy. You don’t need to settle for granny panties if you don’t feel like them.
As far as period hygiene goes, it’s really up to you to select the product that makes you feel most comfortable.
There’s currently a marketing push for the adoption of products like menstrual cups and period underwear. Some women really enjoy such sustainable products, others are not comfortable with them. Don’t feel pressured to make a switch if you feel comfortable with tampons.
Do give new feminine hygiene products a chance. They can help you save a lot of money. If the particular option doesn’t feel right, however, don’t feel obliged to stick with it.
Finally, make sure you’re getting regular gynecological screening to spot problems early enough. Good reproductive health and hygiene go hand in hand. Sometimes, however, issues will develop without signs and symptoms. This is when your gynecologist could step in and offer a solution.
Having at least one prophylactic exam per year is optimal. Not only will you get your PAP smear and cervical screening during such an exam, but your doctor will also check for other issues that could have gone undetected for some time.
Marketing campaigns are probably making you quite insecure about your feminine hygiene. You shouldn’t be. if you’re having a daily shower, you’re changing underwear often enough and you’re practicing safe sex, you’re good.
Some products for feminine hygiene are necessary but be very selective about your choices. If you’re doubtful about any product, chat to your ob-gyn about it. Such a consultation will give you peace of mind and confidence.