When it comes to our most intimate parts we can have a lot of doubts. Do you need to douche to have a clean vagina? Should you use soap? Can you cleanse your vulva with wet wipes? Intimate hygiene can seem a true minefield at times, so continue reading to learn Emjoy's top ten tips for a clean vagina and vulva. Let’s start with the basics…
Intimate Hygiene Basics
The aim of cleansing, as well as maintaining good hygiene, is to prevent the growth of germs that could cause discomfort or infections: including skin irritation, cystitis, vaginitis, and more. However, this shouldn’t be at the cost of eliminating local flora which help to protect us from infections.
When it comes to vaginas, there’s a golden rule: less is more.
The vagina is self-regulating, so the more you leave it alone, the better.
It’s true that some of us are just naturally more prone to infections like cystitis and thrush, but knowing how to clean yourself properly makes it a lot less likely. So take note of these top ten tips for a clean vagina and vulva.
1. Don’t wash too much
In most circumstances, washing once daily is enough to maintain a clean vagina and vulva. Washing more often could actually disrupt your local flora which helps to protect you from infections.
Having said that, you may find you need to wash more frequently after a sweaty exercise session, when you’re in the postpartum period, after sex, on your period, or after period sex. But still, don’t overdo it.
2. Stay clear of scented products
As appealing as that strawberry shortcake shower gel might be, you do not want it going anywhere near your intimate parts. Just put it down and back away. The same goes for intimate deodorants and perfumes as they contain chemicals that can irritate your skin and cause discomfort.
Plus, vulvas don’t smell of roses, strawberries, or any other scent that’s being marketed to you, and nor should it. Every vulva has its own natural smell, and that’s normal, so don’t obsess about it. If you maintain good hygiene, it won’t smell bad but if you do notice an unpleasant odor, it may be a symptom of a problem and you should go to the doctor for a check-up.
Instead, you should use products specifically formulated for this area, or just good old water. This will help you to maintain good hygiene without irritating, drying or altering the pH of the area. Remember, your body already provides natural protection, so you don’t need to go overboard with cleaning products to have a clean vagina and vulva.
3. Forget sponges
Sponges can accumulate germs, so for good intimate hygiene, it’s better to just use your hand. Gently running your fingers along the folds of the outer and inner labia and around the clitoris is way more hygienic.
4. Always clean front to back
Bacteria or other microorganisms from the anal area can easily travel to the vulvar area. So to keep a clean vagina and vulva and to prevent infections, always clean yourself from front to back and wipe yourself this way after peeing.
It’s also super important to remember that you can have vaginal sex followed by anal sex, but not the other way round. Again this is to prevent the transfer of harmful bacteria from the anus area to the vulva.
5. Don’t douche
Only the external genitalia need to be washed. That’s because there are natural mechanisms at work maintaining the internal balance in the vagina. So douching isn’t just unnecessary, it’s also not advisable as it causes an imbalance in the flora of the vagina.
6. Avoid pantyliners
Panty liners increase the local temperature and humidity of the vulva, creating an ideal environment for the growth of many harmful microorganisms, so do without them if possible. Instead, try using a natural alternative made from cotton for example.
7. Wear 100% cotton underwear
One of the simplest and best things you can do for your vulva is to wear pure cotton underwear. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to your sexy lace and synthetic lingerie. You can still wear them on special occasions, but on a day-to-day basis, cotton is best. 100% cotton is breathable and prevents chafing, so if you don’t have any cotton underwear, you know what to treat yourself to on your next shopping trip! And when it comes to caring for your underwear, wash them with mild detergents and rinse them well to get rid of any residue that could irritate you.
8. Go underwear-free
Don’t underestimate the power of ditching your underwear all together. At least once per week, but every night is even better, go to sleep without underwear. Even though cotton is more breathable than any other fabric, it still retains some moisture, but going underwear free gives your vulva time to aerate. So treat your vulva to the feel of the breeze on her skin. She’ll thank you for it!
9. Moisturize as necessary
It’s not necessary to moisturize your vulva, but if you do feel dryness in the genital area, go ahead. Just make sure to only use moisturizers specifically formulated for the genitals. These can prevent dryness, discomfort and itching. But again, it’s not necessary unless you feel you need it.
10. Pee after sex
When it comes to post-sex hygiene, you should always pee after sex. Urinating within 45 minutes of having sex that includes the vulva helps to flush out any bacteria that could cause a UTI. If you’ve ever had a urinary tract infection, you’ll know that’s reason to celebrate.
Ideally you should also wash yourself after sex too. Again, you don’t need anything fancy, just a little water. If that’s not possible, you could use wipes instead. Just make sure that they’re specifically made for your vulva to avoid any irritation.
You don’t need to wash before sex unless you’re really sweaty or feel dirty, but you may feel more fresh and confident if you do.
If there’s one thing you take away from this article, remember that excessive cleaning can destroy the vaginal ecosystem that protects you from infection. Cleaning once per day with intimate wash or just water is all that’s needed for a clean vagina and vulva.
Learn more with Emjoy
To learn more about your body and how to give your vulva the TLC it deserves, check out our Love Your Vulva collection on the Emjoy app.