Intimate Hygiene: The Basic Rules
Intimate hygiene, as the name rightly suggests, is all about keeping your privates clean and hygienic. Many women don’t know the difference between intimate and regular hygiene, and fail to follow the basic rules to maintain their vaginal health.
Clear, white vaginal discharges are normal. There are certain glands in the cervix that produce a natural lubricant, which moves down your vagina, helping it remain moist and healthy. Put simply, this vaginal discharge is your vagina’s natural way of cleaning itself and an indication that it is perfectly healthy.
However, if the discharge is smelly, of a different colour (like yellow or green) and is causing itching and soreness, chances are high that it might be due an infection. Consult a Gynaecologist immediately in case the discharge is foul-smelling, itchy or blood-stained.
Your vagina, in terms of pH, is more acidic than the rest of your body. This helps maintain good bacteria like lactobacilli and prevent the growth of bad. You need to follow good intimate hygiene practices to ensure that you do not upset the vaginal pH balance and in turn avoid vaginal infections like bacterial vaginosis (BV).
Here’s what you need to do to keep your vagina healthy and hygienic
1. Use a good quality intimate wash
When it comes to maintaining hygiene, the skin in your intimate area requires special, delicate care. Washing with ordinary soaps/ gels can lead to imbalance in pH levels, which in turn can lead to problems like itching, odour and infections. If you are already suffering from an infection, washing with soaps can worsen the problem. Use high-quality dermatologically and gynaecologically tested intimate wash that’s also hypoallergenic. Pour a few drops on your hand and use it like you would wash with liquid soap.
2. Wash only outside of your privates
Like mentioned before, the vagina has the ability to self-clean, which means you do not have to wash the insides. Infact, washing the vagina on the inside can prove harmful. Wash only the outside of your intimate area - vulva, vaginal lips and around the clitoris.
3. Wash your at least once a day
You should wash your privates with warm water at least once a day, especially after you have emptied your bowel so that there is no transmission of bacteria. Make sure you wash with warm water at least twice, during your periods.
4. Don’t spray water directly to the vagina
Spraying water directly on the vagina can lead to entry of bacteria. Wash gently and let the water run down from the top.
5. No sponge or gloves
The skin in your privates is super delicate. Never use anything abrasive, use only hands to wash.
6. Use soft towel
Use a soft and fully dried towel to soak up the water. Ensure that you wash this towel in warm water with a mild soap, once in two days.
7. Wipe right
Always wipe clean your intimate area from front to the back, especially if you are using vaginal wipes/ napkins.
8. Wash well before and after sexual intercourse
It is important to wash your intimate area before and after sex to prevent growth and spread of harmful bacteria. Make sure your partner maintains good hygiene too as infections can spread very easily. Also, pass urine after sex. This will help to remove any bacteria that might have spread to the urethra - the tube that connects the bladder to just above your vaginal opening.
9. Avoid sex during periods
Avoid getting intimate if you are menstruating as it can lead to infections. Wait until the bleeding passes, especially if you are prone to infections/ itching/ sore skin.
10. Change pads every 2 - 4 hours
Using a sanitary napkin for more than 4 hours can cause harmful bacteria to multiply. Change your pad every two to four hours, so that you feel and remain clean, fresh and hygeinic.
11. Minimise use of tampons
If you use tampons, you better be careful. Tampons should be changed regularly as they can cause toxic shock syndrome - a potentially fatal condition. Do not use tampons if you have any infections and never, ever sleep wearing one.
12. Wear cotton panties
Cotton clothes allow skin to breathe unlike synthetic that blocks the circulation of air. If there’s no air circulation, the humidity levels in the intimate area can increase, creating a favourable environment for harmful bacteria to grow. Use soft, cotton panties for every day use and fancy ones only for special occasions. Also, avoid wearing cloths like tight jeans, bottoms and pants.