Women’s intimate hygiene: how to preserve the microflora of the vagina
Is it possible to use soap for intimate hygiene, what underwear is unhealthy and how to wash properly — you will learn about all this in a new expert article. Anna Polosenko, obstetrician-gynecologist at ICSI Clinic, talks about the rules of hygiene and dispels myths about caring for the intimate area. Take note!
Soaps and intimate gels — useful or not?
Girls, it is especially important for our intimate area to maintain an acid-base balance! A simple soap makes this balance more alkaline, and the fragile microflora becomes susceptible to bacteria. Proper intimate hygiene products do not contain soap at all. They have a pH level of 4-5, which is in line with a woman’s natural pH. They should contain hyaluronic or lactic acid.
Hyaluronic acid monitors the water balance of the environment and prevents dryness and irritation. Milk moisturizes and is responsible for the normal microflora, protecting the intimate area. To create an anti-inflammatory and soothing effect, it is important that the products contain extracts of chamomile, licorice, sage, calendula or other herbs. It is a natural antiseptic. But the label “antibacterial” should stop you: triclosan kills both harmful and beneficial microorganisms, washing away natural defenses and creating a vulnerable environment.
The choice of products is great — mousses, gels, foams, milk, oil. When choosing, rely on convenience and nuances. Mousse is well suited for sensitive skin, relieve dryness. Oil is economical. Sprays are good on the road when there is no way to go to the shower. Fortunately, today you can choose an option for any situation.
How to properly wash
You need to wash with running water at least once a day (during menstruation — every 3-4 hours, during the change of pads). The jet of water should flow from top to bottom, and not be directed from bottom to top at the vagina. The skin of the genitals is very delicate, so no washcloths — only hands. And by the way, a minute is enough: the longer you wash, the higher the risk of disturbing the microflora and provoking inflammation.
It is important to remember that the vagina can cleanse itself without help. Therefore, fingers during washing do not need to penetrate deep inside: you can damage the mucous membrane and cause discomfort. Wash only the external genitalia: the area around the entrance to the vagina, large and small labia, the area around the clitoris.
If you use additional cleansers, then choose only those intended for intimate areas. Shower gels, soap or shampoo have an alkaline pH and can cause itching and inflammation.
And, of course, the towel should be only your personal, exclusively for the genitals (do not wipe your hands, face, etc.)
What you need to know about hygiene during menstruation
Did you know that Scotland was the first in the world to make free pads and tampons for everyone who needs it? Today, women are more physiologically protected than ever, which means they are happy: the choice of hygiene products is quite large and diverse. Choose what you like, what is comfortable, depending on your own characteristics, clothing and situation.
Everyone knows the main difference between pads and tampons: the former absorb from the outside, the latter from the inside. But sanitary pads are the safest and most physiological for a woman. Tampons can lead to changes in the vaginal microbiota and promote the reproduction of pathogenic and opportunistic microflora.
The best option for using intimate hygiene products is their combined use according to the situation, the day of the cycle and the state of health. In the first and last days of menstruation, when the discharge is scarce, it is possible to use tampons. In the middle of my period and at night, I recommend using sanitary pads.
There are also menstrual cups. They are reusable and last up to 10 years. They (unlike tampons and pads) do not absorb secretions, which means they do not pose a threat to the natural microflora. And even with the correct introduction and selection of the size, the bowl is absolutely not felt inside.
Thongs vs panties: which underwear is bad for women’s health
As a girl I love thongs. Sometimes, on occasion. But as an obstetrician-gynecologist, I do not recommend wearing a thong every day. Why? Yes, because in the lower part they consist of almost one strip, which lies exactly on the anus and on the entrance to the vagina. Thus, the flora of the rectum, even with the most careful hygiene, can pass into the vagina. And, coming to the gynecologist, we can inadvertently see Escherichia coli in the discharge. Of course, it is foolish to exclude this type of underwear, but it is definitely impossible to recommend it for daily use. Girls, use cotton panties made from natural fabrics. And this is especially true now, in the cold season!
Why after sex it is necessary to go in a small way and take a shower
This is basic intimate hygiene. Going to the toilet after sex will prevent bacteria and pathogens from rising up the urethra, causing the development of cystitis and other unpleasant diseases. Be sure to do this within an hour so that the microbes do not have time to penetrate into the deeper sections of the genitourinary system. The shower also helps prevent infections of the urogenital tract. Yes, and thoroughly wash the spermicidal lubricant, lubricants from the vagina, your own and partner’s sweat will be both pleasant and useful.
Take care of your body and it will gratefully serve you for a long time and faithfully 🙂
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The opinion of the editors may not coincide with the opinion of the author of the article.