Only Wash the Outside!
The vagina is a very smart organ that utilizes healthy bacteria to maintain a balanced biological ecosystem. It will clean itself without the use of your hands or any special tools. If you clean your vaginal canal and disrupt that good bacteria you could actually make odors worse and increase your risk of infection. The only area you should wash is the area outside your body, the vulva.
Daily Care for your Vulva
💧 Once a Day, Wash with Water
Famous Canadian OB/GYN and author Jennifer Gunter explained that water is sufficient to clean your vulva. If you need to clean your vulva often for some reason you could also use a very gentle soap or facial cleanser.
The pH level of water is 7.0, the skin of the vulva around 5.3, and the inside of the vagina ranges from 3.8 to 5.0. Regular exposure to a higher pH may damage the lipid layer on the vulva surface, so Dr. Gunter recommends using a soap or a cleanser with a pH level between 5.3 and 7.0.
🧻 Wipe Front to Back.
When wiping your genitals after using the toilet you should wipe from front to back. Wiping the opposite way, from back to front, could transfer bacteria from the anus to the vaginal opening. Try not to let anything that was used in or around the anus to then be used on your vulva or in your vagina.
🩳 Quickly Change out of Wet Clothes
A hot and human environment can allow bad bacteria to develop, and could cause a vaginal infection. Try to change out of wet swimming gear or sweaty exercise clothes as quickly as possible, and rinse off if you can.
Situation Specific Vulva Care
✔️ During and After Showering
- Don’t use any cleansers, powders or sprays that contain scent, pigment or stimulating chemicals directly on your vulva.
- Be careful not to let any exfoliating scrubs or body products directly touch the vulva.
- After washing your vulva don’t rub it with a towel, but gently pat it and let it airdry.
- Wear clean, breathable underwear.
✔️ During and After Menstruation
- During menstruation continue to clean your vulva like usual.
- If your worried about any odors or stains, you can wash 2-3 times a day.
- Don’t clean inside your vagina to try to remove the menstrual fluid. It can have a negative long-term effect.
✔️ After Penetrative Sex
- Just like normal you don’t need to wash inside your vagina.
- You can wipe off any excretions on the vulva with a scent-free, additive-free tissue or rinse it lightly with water.
- After cleaning off any excretions you can wash your vulva as normal.
- Urinating after sex can help keep your urinary tract healthy.
✔️ After Using Sex Toys
- Clean your vulva like usual.
- When cleaning your toy make sure to follow the specific guidelines provided by the manufacturer.
- For products without instructions, wash away any fluids and clean area’s that have touched the skin with a towel soaked in hot water.
- Products marked 100% waterproof can be washed with antibacterial soap and hot water.
- Water resistant products can be cleaned similarly, but not submerged under the water.
- Silicone products with no motor functions can be sterilized in boiling water.
Do You Need More Care?
Doctors like Jennifer Gunter warn against current trends of douching or steaming the vagina. The culture stems from past myths of women’s uterus’ being dirty, and menstruation symbolizing the cleansing of this dirt. This superstition of a uterus full of toxins in need of cleansing has been used to exclude and marginalize women in many cultures. Now we know that the uterus is complete in and of itself, and we can trust science and make healthier choices.