It’s common to hear about oral hygiene that includes brushing your teeth, tongue, and gums as well as flossing. It’s also common to hear about the importance of good vaginal hygiene, which means bathing and smelling fresh down there.
Habits that Contribute to A Healthy Vaginal Hygiene
For healthy vaginal hygiene; that’s something we don’t hear about much, if at all, other than to wash the private parts area of our body from front to back.
- When you take a bath, don’t just gloss over the vaginal area with the soap and washcloth. Get in the ‘nooks and crannies’ by spreading the vulva lips open and sussing them up. Wash the urethra area and the clitoris area. It’s important to wash all these areas because they have secretions. Wash the outside of the vagina and about a fourth of an inch on the inside certainly won’t hurt you at all. Make sure you wash the rectum with a nice soapy washcloth as well.
- Before you have sexual intercourse, wash the genital area. It’s best to take a quick shower before sexual intercourse so you’re squeaky clean. That way you’ll feel more confident.
- After you have sexual intercourse, wash the genital area. That doesn’t mean to do it hours later. Try to hop into the shower or at least wash at the sink within 20 minutes.
- After washing, dry the area. Wet areas attract bacteria that breed faster when moisture is around.
- When menstruating, change the pad or tampon after three or four hours or when it becomes moist.
- Tampons have been found in the research studies to cause micro-ulcerations of the vaginal tissue. This makes it easier for bacteria and sexually-transmitted diseases to lodge in the tissues. Consider using sanitary pads, not tampons.
- Don’t use tampons at times other than when you have your period. Using them to soak up a vaginal discharge means that you’re not addressing what’s happening in your body. If the vaginal discharge is in excess, get a medical doctor to evaluate it.
- Never wear a tampon for more than 8 hours. You must keep track mentally of when a tampon is inserted and when it comes out. Women especially in their 20s can sometimes forget they inserted a tampon and then a day or two later when a bad smell emanates from their vagina, they may remember it. If this happens, do not douche. The tampon will start degrading and disintegrating. Meanwhile, there are clumps of bacteria reproducing wildly. Douching will send the bacteria up higher and could end up causing pelvic inflammatory disease. In this case, you have two choices: 1) go to the doctor and let him/her deal with it professionally, or 2) start pulling out the pieces on your own after you washed your hands, then go to the doctor to make sure it’s all out. You maintain some dignity with choice #2.
- Remember the women who lived before you in the 1970s and 1980s that developed Toxic Shock Syndrome. Some of them died. They used tampons that were super-absorbent and made of rayon. Remember also that Toxic Shock Syndrome never existed before feminine hygiene product companies started using super-absorbent cotton and added dioxin and bleaching agents.
- Give up wearing tight pants and tight underwear. They cause friction that becomes an irritation to the vagina and can break down the tissues, allowing bacterial infections to start.
- Cover public toilet seats with paper before sitting down. Every time you flush, bacteria are thrust into the air from the toilet.
- Change your underwear daily or more often if necessary.
- Change your underwear if it becomes wet.
- Do not sit around for hours in a wet swimsuit.
- If you suspect that you have a vaginal infection, make an appointment for medical help within 24 hours.
- Eat yogurt regularly in your diet. This helps maintain the proper pH of the vagina.
- Take probiotics supplements whenever possible.
- Sex toys that are inserted into the vagina can be harmful. Think about it: what are they made of? Plastics, including PVC. Do you really want polyvinylchloride chemicals that close to your delicate reproductive tissues? Have you seen the rates of cancer and reproductive system disorders lately?