Everyday, women are bombarded will products guaranteed to help us remain fresh down below. It is enough to make any self-respecting woman feel more than a little self-conscious. Douching? Steaming? Special wipes? All of these items are advertised as necessary in order to keep one’s vagina fresh and clean. However, are they needed?
NO! You do not need any of these items for a healthy and clean vagina. It is actually a very efficient self-cleaning machine.
So, to clear up some confusion, here are some vagina dos and don’ts for increased health and safety.
DON’T Ever Douche
Douching commercials claim their products help to balance vaginal pH and that if you are experiencing an unpleasant odor, you should douche. This is all a lie. The vagina is full of good bacteria that keep it clean and safe. These bacteria are called lactobacilli, and they thrive in the naturally acidic pH of your vagina which falls between 3.5 and 4.5. (Source)
Disrupting this natural pH at all will harm the lactobacilli! We do not want that! They are the little bacteria workers that keep our vaginas clean! Also, douches can be incredibly dangerous!
She is not far off. Consistent douching can lead to vaginal irritation, bacterial vaginosis, STIs, and pelvic inflammatory disease. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends women neverdouche. (Source)
DO Clean the Vulva with Water
The vagina does not need to be cleaned, but the vulva does. This leads to a different list of don’ts. The vulva only needs to be cleaned with warm water and any soap, cream, or gel should be avoided.
According to Dr. Jackie:
“Just really clean the exterior of the [vulva] and in the crevices and folds. What I recommend is to make [your vulva] the first thing you clean when you get in the shower. Before you get the soap or the sponges out, just self- clean the [vulva] with your hand and water only. The [vulva] was never designed to smell like a flower or fruit. We’re really big on putting smell-goods in the [vulva]. It’s supposed to have a particular odor, but not an offensive odor, and as women, we really want it to smell like perfume. Don’t try to change the odor of the vagina; it is a God-given odor. Throughout the day yes we sweat, and you notice it more, but please don’t use perfumes and especially powder. Powder creates an increased risk of ovarian cancer. So keep the powders out of the vagina, too.”
Sounds easy enough! Also, the vulva only needs to be washed once a day. Over-washing can lead to irritation.
It is a common misconception that steaming will make the vulva and even the vagina and uterus clean. But this is just false!
Dr. Gunter states:
“It’s not based on any understanding of physiology. Steam isn’t going into your vagina, and if steam could get in there, it would be harmful. Your uterus doesn’t need to be cleaned.”
As we’ve already said, the vulva only needs to be cleaned with warm water and the vagina is perfectly able to take care of itself!
DO Take Care of Yourself
Keeping a balanced and nutritious diet will ensure that the bacteria in the vagina is working at the best possible levels. Cranberry juice and yogurt may be able to treat or prevent yeast infections. Last but certainly not least is water. Keeping properly hydrated is very important to not only the health of the vagina but also the entire body. (Source)
Practicing safe sex is also important. Use condoms to prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases and be sure to switch condoms when switching from oral or anal sex to vaginal sex. Keeping the vagina free of harmful bacteria is essential to keeping it healthy. (Source)