Things About Women Hygiene You May Not Have Known
From the onset of the menstrual cycle to sex, from delivering a baby to experiencing menopause, the vagina goes through a lot. However, vaginal hygiene and care in India is a topic still talked about in hushed tones, or best not discussed at all. The closest we think about maintaining a healthy vagina is by opting for a range of products that claim to “cleanse” or “freshen” or “balance” the pH level of our vagina. The truth is the vagina is a self-cleaning organ designed to keep itself clean through natural secretions, also known as discharge.
The question then arises how should one maintain a healthy vagina? Do you really need to clean your vagina every day?
To understand this, let’s get into the basics of our anatomy. The vagina is a muscular canal that extends from the vulva to the cervix. The vulva is the outer part that consists of the opening of the vagina, labia majora and labia minora (inner and outer lips), and clitoris. While you shouldn’t wash the insides of your vagina, it’s important to wash and keep the vulva clean. Maintaining a healthy vagina is important for your reproductive tract as well as your overall well-being.
Here are some of the basic hygiene practices that we swear by to keep you and your vagina Happy and Healthy!
Clean The Vulva: There’s a thriving industry of vaginal cleaning products available over-the-counter all around the world. However, vaginal washes, douches, or deodorants can harm your vagina and vulva more than they can help. To clean the vulva, one should use plain water, preferably warm water; and if needed, a mild, unscented soap. One should clean the vulva first and then the anus to reduce the risk of spreading bacteria around the area.
Keep Your Underwear Dry: Always make sure your underwear is dry. Wipe the area every time after urinating with soft clean toilet paper. Damp underwear can act as a catalyst to attract UTI or other vaginal infections. The vagina secretes healthy discharge that helps keep it clean. Use of talcum powders or excessive wiping of the vagina will make it dry and more prone to infections.
Learn The Right Way To Wipe: Always remember the right way to wipe is from ‘Front to Back’. Always clean your vagina first and then your anus. This would prevent the spread of bacteria if any.
Wear Comfortable Underwear: Try to go for light cotton underwear over polyester or any synthetic fabric. There’s a lot of friction around the vagina while carrying out your daily activities and it is advisable to wear comfortable underwear. If you are susceptible to UTIs or any kind of vaginal infections, you should try not to wear underwear while sleeping. This gives the vagina time to breathe and heal itself.
Menstrual Hygiene: Keeping yourself and your vaginal area clean during your menstrual cycle is important for your natural well-being. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends changing your pad at least every 4-8 Hours. This, however, varies from person to person and how heavy or light the flow is.
Practice Safe Sex: Using protection during intercourse helps prevent the spread of STDs. One should also wash with water immediately after sex. Sometimes condoms or bodily fluids can trigger infections in you as well as your partner.
Safe Use Of Public Restrooms: Public restrooms are a natural habitat for germs and bacteria. No matter how many rolls of tissue you line your toilet seat with, infections would find their way to you. Though using a toilet sanitiser spray can work, we suggest you stay away from the toilet seat. Urination funnels come in very handy to stand and pee in such situations.
When In Doubt, Consult A Doctor: One should not ignore the signs of UTI or any kind of vaginal infection. Instead of trying home remedies or opting for readily available over-the-counter ointments, it’s best to speak to your gynecologist.
Good Eating Habits: Having a healthy balanced diet is important for promoting good vaginal health. Try to incorporate probiotics, green leafy vegetables, avocados, and cranberries in your diet.
Talking and creating awareness about women’s health forms the basis of every society. Sometimes while taking care of the family, their life, their extended roles, women tend to negate the importance of keeping themselves healthy and hygienic. One needs to follow certain basic practices to promote general physical and mental well-being.