8 Highly Recommended Intimate Hygiene Habits
Intimate hygiene is an issue that worries many women. Odor, menstrual cycles, sexual relations, and even hot days are among the many factors that cause concern when reaching maturity, always aiming to avoid possible discomfort and infections.
For years, people have believed the myth that the vagina is the dirtiest part of the body, although this isn’t true. Many women tend to practice exaggerated cleaning habits in the area because of its bad reputation. With this in mind, we want you to discover the 8 most recommended intimate hygiene habits.
Habits recommended for intimate hygiene
Although vulvas aren’t like fingerprints, each one is different and even the smell is different in each woman. There are hygiene habits that everyone can follow to ensure good intimate health.
1. Wash only the outer area
There’s no need to wash the vagina, but it is important to clean the vulva. Remember that the vagina is the internal channel that connects to the cervix, while the vulva is the external area, whose parts are represented by internal and external labia, clitoris, and clitoral hood.
You have to trust that your vagina cleans itself, because it really does. According to what has been pointed out by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the vagina maintains a correct pH balance and, with the help of secretions, cleans itself naturally.
Thanks to the fact that the vagina has bacteria that are considered good, it allows the pH to be in balance with an acidic substance. This acidity prevents bad bacteria from infecting the region. Cleaning the vagina disrupts its ability to clean itself and upsets the bacterial balance.
2. Correct washing of the vulva
Clean the vulva with warm or lukewarm water and, although it’s not necessary to use soap, you can apply a little. Always wash from front to back, gently clean around the creases, parting the labia, and around the clitoris to remove debris. Remember to avoid getting soap or water in the vagina.
It’s a mistake to wash starting from the anus all the way to the vulva, as you can carry bacteria found there into the vagina and cause infection. Now, if you’re wondering why you can forego soap, according to the Mayo Clinic, soap isn’t unnecessary. The vulva is clean without soap; what you should do is make sure that the area is free of waste.
If you do use soap, it’s a good idea to choose one that’s unscented, colorless, and gentle. Otherwise, it may irritate the skin and cause discomfort.
3. Don’t use aerosols
This is categorical: Don’t use aerosols. Although supermarkets have a crowded section of these products, the truth is that they’re unnecessary and harmful. Why do they sell them? In short, they were designed to take advantage of insecurities, under the false myth that fragrances are required to combat vaginal odor.
The truth is that you should leave your natural vagina smell, even if what you read seems unreal. You must accept that there’s nothing wrong with that smell at all. Only a person who’s very close to the area will be able to smell it, such as your partner, and you shouldn’t be afraid or ashamed.
Although there’s a wide variety of possible vaginal odors, assuming that each woman has a particular one, it also depends on a woman’s diet and menstrual cycle, which should vary between a copper smell and a sweet smell.
If you develop an unpleasant or pungent odor, contact your doctor. Don’t make the mistake of trying to disguise the smell with scented soaps, as you may present a possible infection that you must treat. Using scented products when you have your period is also unnecessary; you should clean yourself in the same way as always.
4. Wear cotton underwear
The best fabric is cotton. Apart from its softness, it has wicking properties that allow moisture to evaporate much faster.
In this way, you get more ventilation in that area, keeping it cool and dry. Other advantages of wearing cotton underwear are that it prevents chafing and prevents skin allergies.
5. Maintain your pubic hair
Pubic hair protects the vulva from bacteria, viruses, and yeasts that can cause infections. It also helps prevent chafing and deal with sweat. These advantages are the reason why completely removing your pubic hair is a bad idea.
What can you do? The following:
- Remove hair along the swimsuit line. You can use scissors or choose the least invasive hair removal method.
- If you use a shaver or razor, renew its blades after each shave.
- Use natural creams or gels. They’re less prone to allergies.
6. Urinate after intercourse
It goes without saying that you should practice safe sex. Counting on this, a habit that you should have is to urinate after intercourse. This reduces the chance of getting a urinary tract infection. Another habit to have is to wash the vulva after sex.
7. Replace your sanitary napkin frequently
If you’re one of those who use cloth pads, make sure you wash them well and that there is no residue from the previous period. On the other hand, if you use disposable pads, avoid going more than 5 hours without a fresh change.
Wearing a sanitary napkin for too long, like using poorly washed cloth pads, increases the likelihood of skin rashes, bad odor, and infections.
8. Consider sleeping without underwear
More and more women accept that sleeping without underwear is pleasant, and this is because the vagina is free. It’s even healthier than if you sleep in underwear because it allows your genitals to breathe.
A study revealed that cold temperatures are excellent for the well-being of the vagina. If you’ve never dared, maybe it’s time to try. It’ll make you feel an incredible air of freedom.
When should you visit your doctor?
Apart from going to your scheduled check-ups, you should go to the doctor or gynecologist if you have any of the following problems:
- A strong unpleasant odor in the genital region
- Frequent vaginal itching
- Pain when urinating, having intercourse, or masturbating
- Unexplained or more than normal vaginal bleeding
- Discharge that’s very thick or yellow, green, or gray in color
- Warts, blisters, or sores around the vulva
What to remember about intimate hygiene
You shouldn’t use vaginal douches, unless recommended by a doctor. These are harmful to the health of your vagina, and while you may enjoy jasmine or spring rose fragrances, don’t use scented soaps.
Before using a product, take the time to read the ingredients, whether it’s lubricants, soap, or shaving cream. The proper way to wash the vulva is from front to back; if you do it in the opposite way, you’ll take the bacteria that are in your anus to the vagina.
Provide comfort with soft, light, and breathable clothing. Avoid wearing underwear made from nylon or synthetic fabrics, as they can irritate the skin.
You must accept the natural smell of the vagina; there’s nothing wrong with it. If you have an unpleasant odor, you should see a doctor and not disguise it or use aerosols. This will increase any possible infection.It might interest you...
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists [Updated June 2020]. Vulvovaginal Health. Available from: https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/vulvovaginal-health
- Mayo Clinic Health System [Published 2016 Nov 2]. You don’t need fancy products for good feminine hygiene. Available from: https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/you-dont-need-fancy-products-for-good-feminine-hygiene
- Gaynor, David, and Kelsey Breseman. “Effects of Temperature on Sleep: Manipulating Body Temperature to Improve Sleep Quality, Onset, and Arousal.” (2013).
- Nappi, R. E., and M. Kokot-Kierepa. “Vaginal Health: Insights, Views & Attitudes (VIVA)–results from an international survey.” Climacteric 15.1 (2012): 36-44.
- Dover, S. E., et al. “Natural antimicrobials and their role in vaginal health: a short review.” International journal of probiotics & prebiotics 3.4 (2008): 219.