Published: 10/12/2015 - Updated: 12/27/2017
Author: MSc. Miriam Reyes
Talking about women’s intimate hygiene could be taboo for a lot of women, but we can’t ignore the fact that good hygiene can prevent the appearance of different infections that generally bring itching, irritation, and bad odors.
This intimate area is more susceptible to developing infections for several different reasons. Some of the most important reasons are that this is a delicate area, and it is continually exposed to filth, like urine, and even feces. Good hygiene can help you prevent these uncomfortable infections.
Inappropriate intimate hygiene
Hygiene and intimate care are necessary, but you mustn’t go overboard as this could affect the balance of bacterial flora.
Bacterial flora in the private areas are made up of bacteria that coexist, thereby preventing the development of infection-causing bacteria. Using feminine douches, however, or bubble baths and aggressive soaps, could cause an imbalance that leads to certain infections.
Appropriate selection and usage of cleansing products for intimate areas can help prevent the proliferation of harmful bacteria, and therefore prevent infections.
Appropriate products to care for your intimate areas
Not all products are suitable for women’s intimate hygiene. In fact, gynecologists warn that a lot of their consultation visits could have been prevented if the appropriate product had been used for intimate care.
You would never use body cream on your face, or a foot lotion for your scalp. This is because the skin can be more or less sensitive in certain areas. That’s why, when speaking about women’s intimate hygiene, we recommend using products that are designed exclusively for feminine cleanliness. Certain products are available in pharmacies that have the appropriate pH for intimate areas.
Feminine hygiene products are generally sold as gels, soaps, and disposable towelettes. They generally have a pH around 5.5. The pH is important because this could promote, or not, the development of fungi or certain bacteria responsible for infections.
Advice for having better intimate hygiene
Using appropriate products and following just a few pieces of advice, you will be able to maintain good feminine hygiene. This advice is especially useful for those that suffer from frequently vaginal infections.
- Use a hypoallergenic product. This could be a perfume-free intimate gel, as it preserves the pH and bacterial flora balance.
- Avoid using products that have perfumes, or serve as a deodorant.
- If you choose to use soap to clean your intimate parts, try to use a neutral soap, or one that has an acidic pH.
- It’s best tidy up your privates with plenty of water after each bowel movement.
- While menstruating, try to change your sanitary pads and tampons frequently, at least every 4 to 6 hours.
- Choose cotton underwear and try to change it daily., especially when sweating a lot. This includes after exercise, or in the summer when it’s hotter. Avoid using underwear made from synthetic materials, or thongs.
- Avoid using tight clothing, like pants or tights because these promote moisture and increase temperature, making the perfect conditions for yeast development.
- When you go to the bathroom, always try to use enough toilet paper to dry and clean yourself. Clean from the front, toward the back (the anus). If you wipe in the other direction, you could be pulling harmful bacteria from the anus to the vagina, increasing the risk of infection.
- Avoid using public bathrooms, although you could also use the disposable toilet seat covers.
- Avoid using aggressive soaps, deodorizing products with perfumes and talcum powder.
- After bathing, try to dry yourself well. Prevent moisture from staying in the groin area, or folds that could promote the development of fungi.
- Eliminate or cut your pubic hair to make cleaning an easier task.
- Don’t scrub yourself when washing up. Gently clean your intimate area.
- See your gynecologist periodically, as some infections could be asymptomatic.
- Stay alert for symptoms like bad odor, yellow, green or bloody vaginal discharge, itching, or any sort of abnormality.
- Avoid vaginal douches, as this could alter the pH in this delicate area.
- Avoid sexual relations if you or your partner suffer from a urinary tract infection or some sort of active genital infection.
- Try to eat a healthy diet. This will strengthen your immune system and will protect you from future infections.
- Control your stress and exercise for a healthy immune system.
NOTE: You should use this advice for exterior genital cleanliness and never use any sort of soap, douche, etc., on the internal cavity or the vagina.
Myths about feminine intimate cleanliness
Using talcum powder daily: Although some people recommend it, or use it frequently, using talcum powder in the private parts is not a good idea. It has even been linked to the development of cancer.
You need to scrub your external genitalia: Just the opposite. The female intimate area is delicate, and cleaning should be performed carefully so as to prevent irritation.
Vaginal douches will keep you clean: These are not recommendable, because a lot of vaginal douches change the natural pH or the area. This could lead to recurrent infections.
Revised by: Dra. Loredana Lunadei on 12/27/2017
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