Dos And Don'ts Of Vaginal Hygiene All Women Must Know
Vaginal hygiene is a concern which has many confusions and uncertainties attached to it. Read below to know all you need to do to keep your vagina clean and healthy.
Vagina has acidic pH which causes lubrication, naturally
- Yogurt can help in preventing yeast infections
- Douching affects the pH balance of the vagina
- Using foreign method for cleaning disturbs natural flora of the vagina
A concern which is associated with many confusions and misconceptions is vaginal hygiene. First of all, should we regularly clean down there or not? Are we cleaning it right? Are we shaving it right? How to clean it at all? There are endless questions that strike women about their vagina and there are very less right answers to it. Besides, vagina has acidic pH, which is full of good bacteria that helps in fighting with infections and is also naturally lubricated.
Experts say that a healthy vagina secretes some amount of white discharge every day, and some women might not even notice it. But if there is any kind of odour or a change in the colour of discharge, they need to be medically consulted.
So here some dos and don'ts of vaginal hygiene all women must know:
Do not douche
Remember that douching affects the pH balance of the vagina, which is usually between 3.8 to 4.5. It reduces acidity and also gives room for bacterial infections. Douching for getting rid of the odour will only cover up the smell and not cure the reason of the odour. Also, one must avoid using harsh soaps or cleansers on the vulva or inside the vagina. They all contribute to pH imbalance.
Also read: What Causes Vaginal Dryness And How To Deal With It
Healthy diet for healthy vagina
Following a balanced and nutritious diet along with drinking lots of fluids are important for vaginal health. In fact, there are certain foods which might help in dealing with vaginal problems. Yogurt for instance, can help in preventing yeast infections. For people who exercise urinary tract infections daily, consuming cranberry supplements can be helpful.
Have safe sex to keep harmful germs away
Using condoms while having sex prevents the spread of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), genital herpes etc. Make sure that you change condoms when you're switching from oral or anal sex to vaginal sex.
Also read: Some Vaginal Bacteria May Render HIV Drug Ineffective
See your gynaecologist regularly for preventive care
It is always recommended to consult your gynecologists regularly, to keep a track of diseases and infections that can affect your vagina and the reproductive system.
Use enough lubricants, but not petroleum jelly
While lubrication is an important part of intercourse, and many women are unable to produce enough lubricants, women should never use petroleum jelly as an artificial lubricant. Using petroleum jelly and or baby oil as additional lubricants can cause inflammation and infections. Water-based, silicone-based, or oil-based lubricants are fine for increasing lubrication.
Also read: Doctors Warn Against The Health Risks Of Vaginal Seeding, A New Trending Practice
Choose the right clothing
Try and wear cotton underwear at all times. Yeast tends to thrive in certain fabrics which are of a tight-fitting. They create a warm and moist environment for your vagina.
Follow good hygiene
Women should follow some common hygienic habits like changing sanitary pads and tampons regularly during menstruation. Some experts suggest that women who experience a lot of discharge can change their underwear twice or thrice, to feel more comfortable and also avoid infections.
Dr Ragini Agarwal says, "Using any foreign method for cleaning disturbs the natural flora of the vagina. Vagina has its own ecosystem which comprises lactobacillus that creates lactic acid. This lactic acid is helpful in killing the pathological bacteria in vagina. They also produce Hydrogen Peroxide which triggers killing these pathological bacteria in the vagina."
According to Dr Ragini, any shift from the normal cleaning process of the vagina leads to an increase in these pathological bacteria and hence they should be avoided.
She further adds, "These bacteria create a stem-like structure in the vagina, which makes it very difficult for the medicine to go inside the vagina. A very lengthy treatment is required for this and then there are also chances for the bacteria to grow again."
Vaginal hygiene through products which are available in the market can be used, she suggests.
(Dr Ragini Agrawal is senior gynaecologist and head, W. Pratiksha Hospital, Gurgaon)