Cleaning the Vagina: Am I doing it right?
Updated: Sep 12, 2022
You have had your vagina all these years and Yes, It’s healthy. There’s nothing wrong with it. So why should you be reading this anyway! If you take a moment and think about it, really think deep and hard, would you say you have been cleaning your vagina the right way?
This part of your body is one of the most sensitive parts and any slight change can affect the balance. When it comes to cleaning the vagina there is quite some questionable advice and advertisements that could make you feel like you need some special soaps, washes and treatments. The real question is, what kind of effects do these soaps and treatments have on your vagina, are they the best solution? Let’s get right into it and find out!
Do I really need to clean my vagina?
Well, no but you definitely need to wash your vulva. Vulva? Where’s that? If you are not sure about the difference between the two check out The Graceful Guide To Female Pleasure to learn more. Washing the vagina can lead to numerous problems. Have you ever heard that the vagina is self-cleaning? This is true! Your vagina contains good bacteria that help maintain the ideal pH balance which may be slightly acidic. The acidity makes it hard for bad bacteria to infect your vagina. So the next time you think of cleaning the vagina, don’t! It’s already doing all the work for you.
How should I wash my vulva?
Okay, so now you know that you can’t wash the vagina then how should you wash the vulva instead? Here’s what you need to do:
Gather what you need - A washcloth- your fingers work just fine too, some warm water and a dry towel. Notice how soap is not one of the requirements.
Rinse with warm water - Doing this under a shower/running water is much easier.
Spread the lips - Using either your clean washcloth or fingers spread the labia to get to all the folds.
Clean the back too - This is the part between your vaginal opening and your anus. Remember not to accidentally wipe your anus then wipe your vulva again.
Pat yourself dry - Use the dry towel to pat yourself dry. Yeast infections love humidity!
So I don’t need soap?
No, you don’t have to use soap to wash your vulva. However, if you must, choose one that is unscented and mild and that will not irritate the area. It might be a little hard to find one and even harder to know in advance which one will not cause irritation and this is why it is advised to just avoid soap as much as possible.
But what if there’s a smell?
Naturally, the smell of the vagina will vary throughout your cycle ranging from coppery to sweet. Different factors such as your cycle, sweat, what you eat and infections could change the smell. If you think about it, there’s no part of your body that smells always nice if left alone so don’t expect down there to always have the best smell. For unpleasant odours that are outside the norm, see a doctor to diagnose if it’s an infection and get the right medication.
What if there’s a lot of discharge?
Vaginal discharge is normal. The best way to examine your discharge is to observe the colour and texture. Most of the time, you will see clear and white discharge which is the natural lubrication to keep your vagina moist and healthy. Discharge may increase during ovulation and you may prefer to wash the area a little more when ovulating which is fine. You can track all the different discharge types in the Grace App. Should you see a discharge that is yellow, green or grey and perhaps accompanied by some itching, burning, pain or other symptoms, it’s time to call your doctor.
What if I’m on my period?
Just like with vaginal discharge, you can wash your vulva the same way when you are on your period. Perhaps washing it more than once or twice a day may make you feel more confident because of the coppery odour from the iron in the blood.
What about douching?
Vaginal douching is the squirting of a solution in the area to clean it. This is not recommended and not safe at all. Remember the good bacteria we discussed earlier? Douching washes it all away leaving the vagina more vulnerable to infections. Do not douche your vagina!
What about steaming?
Vaginal steaming involves the mixing of certain herbs in hot water and sitting over the herbs so that steam enters the vagina. This is thought to ease cramps, ease bloating and to some people also improve your sex life. This is not recommended as there’s no scientific evidence that supports vaginal steaming and it could be harmful. The hot steam can hurt tissues around the vagina and herbs may cause you to have a miscarriage. Since the vagina is sensitive, it’s best to stick to scientific/medically approved methods.
What else should I know?
Wear cotton underwear - No one said you get rid of all your sexy inner-wear but wearing cotton underwear often could be helpful. Cotton is gentle and breathable and helps to let the moisture about and not build up. Nylon/synthetic fabrics may cause irritation.
Quickly change from sweaty or wet clothes -bacteria thrive in damp and warm conditions. To prevent the bacteria from overgrowing, remove your sweaty gym clothes and wet swimsuits as soon as you can.
Choose your products wisely - Scented; pads, tampons, condoms and lube should be avoided.
Always pee after sex - Peeing after sex helps to flush out germs. When you don’t pee you could get a urinary tract infection and though treatable it can be painful.
Wipe from front to back - Not the other way around. You don’t want to spread bacteria from your anus to your vagina that could cause infections.
Front to back also for sexual activity - This also applies during sex. Anything that goes in or near your anus should not go in or near your vagina immediately after unless cleaned first. That includes toys, fingers, tongues and penises. Ensure that all these are clean before they come in contact with your vagina.
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Stay informed, stay in control.