Wondering how to clean your vagina safely? Contrary to promotions for douching and scented vaginal cleansing products, the vagina is designed to clean itself. In fact, washing the vagina can do more harm than good. The vulva, or the outer parts around the vagina, however, should be washed.
Read on for everything you need to know about keeping your vagina and vulva healthy and clean.
The Vagina and Vulva – What’s the Difference?
The vagina is considered a woman’s internal genitalia. Beginning at the vaginal opening, the vagina is described as the muscular tube inside the body that ends at the opening to the womb, which is known as the cervix.
The vulva refers to the outer part of a woman’s genitalia. It includes the inner and outer labia (or vaginal lips), the clitoris, and the openings to the vagina and urethra.
What is The Best Way to Clean Your Vagina?
Do nothing. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the vagina is naturally designed to clean itself through regular secretions. These secretions occur daily and change at various times of the month to maintain a healthy pH balance within the vagina.
Controlled by a combination of “good” and “bad” bacteria within the vagina, this naturally acidic pH balance not only keeps the vagina clean, but also prevents bacterial infections, enhances the enjoyment of sex, and lowers the risk of fertility issues.
In short, washing the internal genitals will only serve in disrupting the balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria. And such upsets to the vagina’s pH level leave women more susceptible to sexually transmitted infections (STIs), Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs), and Bacterial Vaginosis (BV).
The Best Way to Clean Your Vulva
The best way to clean your vulva is to wash it daily with warm water. Despite the plethora of products on sale to wash, spray, steam, or scent your vulva all you need is warm water and a washcloth.
Gently part the outer labia and softly clean the folds of the vulva using a clean washcloth. It is not necessary to use soap, but if you prefer, you can use a mild, unscented brand that is also colorless. Don’t use scented soap as it can irritate the sensitive skin of the vulva. And be careful not to allow any water or soap to enter your vagina to avoid upsetting the pH balance.
It’s also a good idea to wash the area between the vagina and the anus, as well as the anus. To avoid transferring any bacteria from the anus, start by washing the vulva, then the next section, and finally the anus.
What About Vaginal Odors?
All vaginas have an odor, and most of them are perfectly normal. From sweet-smelling during ovulation to coppery during menstruation, vaginal odors will vary according to the time of the month. The smell from your vagina can also change according to what foods you eat.
Onion, garlic, asparagus, curry, and other spicy foods are known to change vaginal odors, for example. Poor hygiene and sweaty gym workouts can alter vaginal scents too.
It is unlikely that anyone else can smell these types of vaginal odors unless they are your sexual partner. But rest assured that washing the vulva with warm water and a washcloth will eliminate them immediately.
If however, the scent from your vagina becomes intensely strong or pungent, and it is accompanied by burning, itching, or a colored discharge other than white, you should contact your doctor about treatment for a possible infection.
How to Clean Vaginal Discharge?
Most vaginal discharge is completely normal. A clear white discharge is the vagina’s way of keeping itself lubricated and healthy, for example. You may notice a little extra white discharge during ovulation, which is also usual. Before your period, you might also see a red-brown color in your vaginal discharge due to the start of menstrual bleeding.
However, if your vaginal discharge changes color to gray, yellow, or green, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss treatment for a possible infection.
Otherwise, when it comes to vaginal discharge, washing the vulva daily with warm water and a clean washcloth will suffice to keep the intimate areas clean.
Why is Vaginal Douching Not Recommended?
Vaginal douching, a process that involves inserting a liquid solution into the vagina to clean the inner genitalia, is not considered safe. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, complications linked to douching include a higher risk of STIs, fertility struggles, and premature births.
Simply put, vaginal douching is unnecessary and can have harmful impacts on the female reproductive system.
Additional Helpful Tips to Keep Your Vagina Clean
As well as washing your vulva with warm water and leaving your vagina to its own cleaning devices, there are a few extra tips to keep your genitals healthy.
- Wear breathable, cotton underwear.
- Wash new underwear before wearing it.
- Use unscented washing detergents when doing underwear laundry.
- Switch to cotton tights or nylon tights with a cotton crotch.
- Change out of sweaty workout pants when your workout is over.
- Take a Vitex Chasteberry Supplementto maintain healthy hormone levels and vaginal health.
- Wipe from front to back after peeing.
- Always pee after sex.
- Practice Safe Sex.
Douching or using any other vaginal cleansing products is unnecessary and can ultimately cause more harm than good by upsetting the natural bacteria balance of the vagina. Instead, use warm water and a clean washcloth to wash the vulva daily.
Any pungent vaginal odors or changes in color to your usual vaginal discharge could signal an infection. If you notice anything different concerning either, make an appointment to see your doctor for treatment.
WebMD – Picture of The Vagina - https://www.webmd.com/women/picture-of-the-vagina
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists – Vulvovaginal Health -
Mayo Clinic – You Don’t Need Fancy Products for Good Feminine Hygiene - https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/you-dont-need-fancy-products-for-good-feminine-hygiene
Wiley Online Library - Alteration in vaginal microflora, douching prior to pregnancy, and preterm birth - https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-3016.2008.00970.x