Every woman, after striking puberty, should take feminine hygiene seriously. Failing this, you may have to go through the ordeals of infection and foul smell—something that’s best done without!
You may be taking care of your overall health but paying close attention to your vagina is equally important. Otherwise, rest assured, it’s going to DEMAND your attention with some pretty inconvenient signs – pain, dryness, odor, and other woes you can imagine!
17 Things to Keep in Mind about Vaginal Hygiene
When it comes to maintaining vaginal health, a spray of water and soap isn’t really going to do the trick. Everything ‘down there’ is sensitive and delicate, and requires all the special care it can get. To be honest, there’s not a lot you actually should do to the area itself – the vagina has a self-cleansing and balancing mechanism in place. It’s more about what you can do to ensure that the mechanism stays put…and here’s how!
1. Are your Undies Squeaky Clean?
You must wash your underwear regularly with mild detergent. Before use, do check whether the detergent has been rinsed off your panties thoroughly and are completely dry. Wearing wet panties might give rise to bad odor and infections. So, as much as it is essential to wash your underwear, it’s equally necessary to dry them well too.
2. Cotton Shall Lead The Way!
Try avoiding panties made of synthetic fabric, however sexy they may make you feel every day (indulgence once in a while is alright, of course!). Instead, opt for cotton underwear for daily use and for long wear. The fabric allows for breath-ability and will leave your vagina clean, preventing infections.
3. Let it Breathe!
Changing your underwear at night is a good idea, but you know what’s a better one? Going commando! That’s right – spare the area for a few hours and let it experience comfort without being tightly covered all the time. What’s exceptionally important is to do this after a workout as well. Don’t sit around in stinky, sweaty workout clothes once you’re done; get into a shower and wash away the potential for a bacterial breeding ground!
4. There’s One Part Down There That Still Needs Cleaning
The vulva isn’t as self-driven as the vagina and does require efforts when it comes to cleaning. But not too much, again! Use a mild soap without fragrances, and don’t really give it a bubble bath. Just wash it gently, pat it dry, and if absolutely required to remove dampness, use a hairdryer set on very low temperature and give the area a gooood dry!
5. Trim Time
Don’t let your pubic hair grow too much. Overgrowth will trap sweat and cause odor in the private area. So, it’s best to trim extras off or shave them completely. If you plan to shave, use a shaving gel or conditioner to avoid cuts and rashes. You could also go for a Brazilian wax if you want that long lasting smooth and fresh feel. It might be a little painful, but the fresh feeling afterwards is absolutely worth it. And it’s not just you; your partner may love it too!
6. Take Care with Ingrown Hair
If you see ingrown hairs, resist the urge to pull and pop and prick it, because it’s just going to make the area susceptible to infections. Try getting rid of them by using a warm compress that can soften the skin in the area without being too harsh, and gentle exfoliation. Seek medical help if the issue lasts for too long and is causing too much irritation.
7. Wash and Wipe
One of the most important tips for a healthy vagina is to wash it off every time you pee, at the time of taking your shower, and also after you’ve had sex. Remember to wipe your private areas properly; dampness might cause sores, infections or bad smell. Ensure to wipe from front to back, because you don’t wanna bring back the germs and gross stuff from the anus to the vagina right after you’re done cleaning it, right?
8. Products to Use
It is very tempting to buy personal hygiene products flooding store racks, but such products might contain strong agents or scents that may cause an allergy. So, it’s best to ask your gynaecologist before you buy the intimate wash gel you’ve been considering. Alternatively, you could always use a mild soap for washing your private parts.
9. Change your Pads often!
Even if you aren’t bleeding that heavily, always change your pads or tampons within 5 hours. Otherwise, be prepared for an unpleasant scene ‘down there’ very soon. Knowing how to make your private parts smell good really works wonders especially during periods, so go for it! Don’t forget that these products are infused with chemicals that could have drastic effects on your health if not disposed of frequently. So unless it’s a menstrual cup that you’ve inserted in your vagina, 5 hours should be the cut-off time for any product to stay in there!
10. Unless Absolutely Necessary, Skip Antibiotics
Some women experience irritation or get affected by yeast infection when they use antibiotics. This happens because antibiotics can kill all bacteria, good or bad, that live in the vagina naturally. Skipping it altogether is not required, but just make sure it’s absolutely necessary to go through with the prescription.
11. Cyclists, Listen Up!
If you’re not padded up enough while pursuing your favourite cycling class or on your regular ride out in the park, you may have experienced numbness or pain in your genitals. i.e. not good signs! Make sure your bicycle seat has enough padding and your cycling shorts are thick enough to handle a really long time on the seat as well.
12. Speaking of Exercises…
Squeezing and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles – that’s basically what Kegel exercises are. They strengthen the muscles and solve problems like urinary incontinence, improve bladder and bowel functions, and can contribute wonderfully to a better sex life!
13. Develop Healthy Sex Habits
That’s including changing condoms if you’re moving from oral or anal to vaginal sex, or rather, using condoms in the first place! Married or unmarried, you are still at risk of developing sexually transmitted diseases, which is why keeping it clean ‘down there’ is super important!
Similarly, urinating after sex is another habit to develop. It’s a way of flushing out and keeping away any harmful germs that may have found their way into the vagina during intercourse.
14. Please Use the Lube!
No, seriously ladies! Help your vagina out a bit when it comes to sex. Sure it’s self-lubricating but a good lube (and lots of it) helps reduce the strain and pressure on it when it’s time for ‘dirty business’! There are a lot of varieties available over-the-counter, but talk to your gynecologist to figure out which one’s the best for pleasure and vaginal health. But do yourself a favor and stay away from using petroleum jelly or baby oil as lubrication; all you’re doing is making your vagina angry and have it retaliate by inviting infections!
15. Your Vagina is Supposed to Smell Like a Vagina
Fishy or absolutely suspicious odors side, your vagina’s natural smell reflects its health. So douching (which means rinsing it out by spraying solutions or liquids into the vagina) or using scented soaps or perfumes down there should be a total no-no! It can upset the acidic balance of the vagina leading to all sorts of infectious trouble.
16. A Vagina-Friendly Diet Exists!
Food plays a role just as important as any external measures you take in keeping your vagina healthy. Cranberries keep UTI (Urinary Tract Infections) at bay; probiotic-rich food like yoghurt help in balancing pH levels; and apples can actually be good for your sex life too, by helping with lubrication and better orgasms! Apart from these, soy, leafy greens, and plant-based fats also promote good vaginal health.
17. Make Gynecologist Appointments a Priority!
Meeting your OB/GYN may not pop into your mind as a fun activity to wind up with at the end of the day, but try to catch up on them at least once a year. The rule-of-thumb is to go through check-ups like a Pap Smear or pelvic exams every three years, but meeting with the gynecologist can also be to discuss health issues.
Learn how to keep your private parts clean as much as you take care of any other part of your body. A clean vagina will not only make you feel great, but will boost your confidence and keep you fuss-free.