Feminine hygiene: DO’s and DON’Ts
Should vagina smell like flowers? No matter how clean and healthy a woman’s vagina is, it will always have a distinct and natural smell.
By iWoman Editorial Team
When it comes to feminine hygiene, it’s important for women of all ages to be very thorough and regular in maintaining the hygiene “down there”. Hence, here is a list of rules on feminine hygiene, which many women do not know about. But first, there are basic things every woman should know about vagina. Did you know that “vagina” comes from the Latin root meaning “sheath for a sword”? Also, did you know that your vagina self cleans itself? The vagina is designed to keep itself clean with the help of natural secretions or discharge.
Did you know that “vagina” comes from the Latin root meaning “sheath for a sword”?
Clean using water and pH-balanced gentle cleansers.
When you need to clean “down there,” it is best to use water and gently remove any possible dirt. Avoid perfumed soaps, gels, and antiseptics, as this can affect the healthy balance of bacteria and pH levels, and even lead to irritation. Use hypoallergenic and pH-balanced gentle cleansers. Try not to overdo cleansing in the area because it may cause an imbalance of the normal growth of bacteria around your vagina and lead to possible infections.
Douching means to wash or soak in French. The douching involves rinsing your private parts with an acidic chemical. Women say douching makes them feel cleaner. But According to health experts, including those at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), you should avoid douching. Douching upsets the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina (called vaginal flora). These changes make the environment more favorable for the growth of bacteria that cause infection. Studies have found that women who stopped douching were less likely to have bacterial vaginosis. Having bacterial vaginosis can increase the risk of preterm labor and sexually transmitted infections.
Let our vagina breathe with the right underwear.
While most women (and even men) find cotton underwear not sexy, it allows air around your vagina. Cotton underwear permits the area to breathe. Tight inners and synthetic fabrics can reduce the air circulation causing sweat, which puts you at a higher risk of developing vaginal infection. Also, wearing no underwear at night may be helpful in reducing sweat and odor-producing bacteria.
Change your underwear regularly.
You should never wear an underwear item for more than a day. Vaginal secretions are totally unhealthy and a ready ground for bacteria to multiply. Remember, women often get their panties wet due to vaginal discharge, sweat or not cleaning the vagina after urinating. Wet bottoms for a long period can cause bacteria to develop, resulting in bad odor or infections. This is even more important during menstruation — change sanitary napkins every 5 hours. If sanitary napkins are worn for long, they can cause rashes, and put you at the risk of infection.
Give your vagina a regular haircut.
Some women prefer a hairy vagina because they believe that it helps protect their private part. But keeping too much vaginal hair is not so wise. Pubic hair can cause foul smell in your vagina. The hair traps sweat and body secretions. Always keep your pubic hair short or remove it completely in order to keep your private parts clean.
And lastly, wipe your private part correctly.
After each trip to the bathroom, you need to wipe the outer surface of her vagina clean. This eliminates the unpleasant scent of urine, sweat and natural discharge. Use baby wipes instead instead of rough paper tissue. Always wipe from front to back (vagina to anus and not vice-versa) every time you use the bathroom. Doing it the opposite way increases the chances of bacteria from your butt/bottom part moving to your vaginal area, which can cause a urinary tract infection. Wipe the same way for washing. Don’t forget to wash your hands before using the toilet or at least before wiping your vagina especially if you are using a public toilet. Remember, your hands are exposed to a lot of bacteria when you’re in public, so washing your hands can avoid passing germs from your hands to your private part as well.
SOURCES: National Women's Health Information Center: ''Douching.'' Bandolier: ''Vaginal Douching.'' Kirchner, J. American Family Physician, 2000; vol 61: pp 849-850.