Let’s talk about how to care for your vagina and vulva! As many of you may know the vagina or vaginal canal is a self-cleaning organism. Think of it like a dishwasher that cleans all the dishes for you, and all you need to do is pack the dishes away and dry them.
So, if the vagina is self-cleaning, how can you create a self-care practice for it? That’s what we’re explaining today. Creating a self-care ritual fosters a healthier relationship with your vagina and vulva, gets you more comfortable with your body, and makes you aware of any changes, especially if they’re out of the ordinary.
Let’s start with what you shouldn’t do when it comes to self-care down there:
- Don’t douche
Douching involves ‘cleaning’ the vaginal canal and not the vulva. There are a few ways to douche; like rinsing the vaginal canal with plain water, or using a high pressure device that forces water or ‘cleaning’ liquid into the vagina. Douching is extremely bad for the vagina, because as mentioned in the introduction the vagina is self-cleaning and doesn’t need any external devices or substances to ‘clean’ it. Douching messes up the pH balance of the vagina – even if you’re just using plain water. If the pH balance is disturbed it could lead to yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis and pelvic inflammatory disease. PLEASE DON’T DOUCHE!
2. Stay away from scented soaps, wipes and feminine washes:
Like douching, anything that has a fragrance or an artificial scent is bad for the vagina and the vulva. Again, it can upset the natural pH balance and lead to an infection. Scented products can also cause irritation, itchiness, burning or rashes. This is because of the synthetic chemicals that they contain. Avoid these at all costs.
Here are 5 ways to practice self-care:
1. Regular self-inspections:
One of our latest posts on Instagram explains why self-inspections are so important. In case you missed it, a self-inspection involves having a look and feel at your vulva. Take a mirror, get comfortable in a private, safe space and make sure your hands are freshly cleaned. Use the mirror to have a look at your vulva, from top to bottom and left to right. You can spread the labia or ‘lips’ apart too. Self-inspections are important because it allows you to get familiar and comfortable with your anatomy, especially because so many of us feel shame when it comes to our genitalia and how it looks. It also means you’re being proactive about your sexual health as you’ll be able to tell if any changes occur like bumps or pimples.
2. Use cotton underwear:
Underwear comes in so many different materials, but the best option for your vagina is 100% cotton underwear. It’s the most breathable and the safest because synthetic fabrics like lace can increase the risk of infections like bacterial vaginosis.
What’s self-care without self-pleasure? They go hand in hand! Masturbating has so many benefits; from stress-relief, helping with sleep and relaxation, plus it creates a stronger relationship with your body.
4. Regular STI checks and gynae visits:
Another vital part of self-care is taking charge of your health. Getting tested for STI’s regularly, especially when getting involved with a new sexual partner and going to your gynaecologist for check-ups are both important parts of self-care.
This is optional, but if you want to groom your pubic hair this also forms part of self-care. Some people prefer not having any pubic hair at all, while others opt to just groom according to their personal preferences. Make sure you’re doing what works for YOU, and not out of shame or pressure from a partner or society.