Caring for your vagina – why less is more

The vagina is one of the most misunderstood and underrated organs in the body. Vagina-owners have been sold the lie that our genitals need to smell like roses at all times otherwise it’s unhygienic, shameful or dirty. There are hundreds of products available at stores that are marketed with this core belief; from douches, feminine or intimate washes, soaps and sprays the list is endless. They often make vagina-owners feel inadequate, like there’s something wrong with them and that they desperately NEED to use one of these in order to be ‘fixed’. This couldn’t be further from the truth!

The vagina, not the vulva (which is everything on the outside of the vagina) is a self-cleaning organ. This means that no amount of intimate care products can do what the vagina has been built to do, which is maintain its pH by ensuring a healthy balance of good bacteria. It’s easy to get into the trap of feeling like you need to do more to maintain a healthy looking and feeling vagina – we’ve all been there, but the reality is doing less is in your best interest! Below we have some tips and tricks on how to maintain a healthy vagina in your daily life:

When bathing or showering:

It can be tempting to want to use soap to clean your vulva or vagina, but most conventional soaps contain very harsh ingredients and chemicals that would do more damage than anything else. Using any form of soap or wash to clean the vagina is a complete no-no because it will upset its pH balance. The vagina keeps itself clean by using discharge as a secretion method which is produced by the cervix. The good bacteria in the vagina also produce antibodies which kill bad bacteria and prevent infections. However, what you can do is use a very mild or chemical free soap to clean the vulva, but there’s no need to use it to clean the vagina.

General day-to-day maintenance:

The vagina needs to breathe and doesn’t do well in moist, stuffy conditions for long periods of time. So, wearing breathable clothing and underwear is important. Cotton underwear is the best as it limits the amount of moisture which could potentially create bacterial growth. If you’re doing strenuous physical activities like working out, try and avoid wearing g-string’s as the movement could move anal bacteria to the vagina.

Just wiping the vulva with warm water daily is also great for daily care. It’s normal for the vagina to have an odour, but if you notice a significant change in the odour accompanied by itchiness, pain or discomfort you should go to a doctor.

When it comes to sex:

Try and opt for natural lubricants instead of synthetic ones. Avoid lubes that include parabens, petroleum, glycerin, dyes, scents or flavors. These all contain unnecessary chemicals and toxins which leave you vulnerable to infection. Glycerin, for example is used to keep many lubricants moist, however it can contribute to bad bacterial growth, while petroleum products disrupts the vagina’s pH level. A few great natural alternatives include silicone, primrose oil or even organic olive oil.

When it comes to sex toys, remember that not all sex toys are created equal and some can be doing more harm than good! Avoid using sex toys that are made from jelly, gel, rubber, PVC, vinyl, cyber skin, or faux flesh. Instead, look for sex toys that are 100% silicone, wood grade (with a medically-safe finish) and medical-grade stainless steel.

Keep the pubes!

As hard as it is to believe pubic hair actually has a purpose. Shaving or waxing all of your pubic hair could also lead to infection as the hair protects the vagina from excessive bacteria growth, ensures there’s no friction during sex or with clothing. Contrary to popular belief removing your pubes doesn’t make you more hygienic or cleaner. There’s nothing wrong with keeping a hand on your pubes but getting rid of it all together can be risky.