How to Keep Your Vagina Cleaner
Maintaining vaginal hygiene is important for all women to do and understanding how to properly take care of your vagina is vital for your health. The vagina is naturally acidic and contains bacteria that can help fight off infections and maintain a normal pH balance. Discharge is also a normal secretion that the vagina produces in order to keep itself clean. Although this is a self-cleaning organ, you can take steps to improve your vaginal hygiene.
Washing Your Genital Area
Wash your vulva daily with suitable soap and water.Washing your vagina the correct way is important in maintaining a healthy pH balance while also preventing infections. A normal pH level ranges from 3.5-4.5 on a scale of 0-14. To keep a regulated pH level:
- Use a regular, unscented soap instead of a body wash. Don't put soap inside your vagina.
- Some products (such as body washes) have a pH level of 8, which throw off your normal pH level and cause itchiness, irritations, and odor.
- Regular soap also doesn’t contain as much alcohol content (scent) compared with body washes.
Clean the external areas surrounding the vagina.External parts, such as the vulva and the labia majora (the larger outer folds of the vulva), should also be cleaned with soap and water every day.
- Clean at least once a day to get rid of sweat, traces of urine and discharge that accumulates through out the day.
- Use a washcloth or free hand while cleaning.
Avoid using a loofah and washing too often.Rough and hard washcloths and loofahs can create small tears and expose you to infection. Avoid these and use a soft washcloth or your hand instead.
- Also, do not clean yourself more than once a day. Excessive cleaning can disrupt the pH balance and lead to dryness.
Avoid douching.Douching flushes water into your vagina, cleaning out natural bacteria and secretions. You should avoid douching because:
- It interferes with your pH level and reduces the acidity in your vagina. This can make you more prone to infections.
- It will only temporarily cover up smell instead of curing it. If you have a strong vaginal smell, consult with your doctor instead of using a douche.
Avoid scented wipes, deodorants and feminine products.Products that contain perfume disrupt your vagina’s pH balance and can cause irritation.
- If your concerned with the way your vagina smells consult your doctor.
- Vaginal odor changes at different times of the menstrual cycle so don’t always think a bad smell is a sign of infection or illness.
Method 1 Quiz
Why should you avoid using a loofah?
Promoting Proper Vaginal Hygiene with Lifestyle
Eat a healthy diet.The key to maintaining vaginal health is a nutritious and well-balanced diet as well maintaining proper hydration. Add the following foods to your diet to promote vaginal hygiene:
- Cranberry juice may help treat and prevent yeast infections.
- Yogurt may help maintain vaginal pH balance.
- Soy products help with vaginal dryness and act as a natural lubricant.
- Nuts and wheat contain vitamin E that help prevent vaginal dryness while also aiding in keeping your skin healthy.
- Water helps your body function correctly and is essential for the health of the mucous membranes, such as those in your vagina. These membranes rely on proper hydration so getting enough water is essential.
- Drinking 8 glasses of water a day also promotes natural lubrication and a milder vaginal scent.
Practice safe sex.Practicing safe sex helps prevent against harmful bacteria and sexually transmitted diseases and promotes vaginal health.
- Always use a condom when having sex, especially if you are not in a monogamous relationship.
- Make sure to always change condoms when switching from anal or oral sex to vaginal sex. This will help prevent harmful bacteria from entering into the vagina.
- Use lubricants when having sex. Lube helps prevent the skin of your labia and vagina from becoming irritated.
- Lubrication occurs naturally but some women don’t produce enough. Using an artificial lube can help prevent friction and irritation.
- Avoid petroleum jelly or other oil-based products as these can break down the latex in condoms, making them ineffective and can cause infection to the vagina.
- You may also want to shower after having sex so you can remove bodily fluids and residue from the condom that may otherwise cause irritation or infection.
Have regular checkups with your doctor.In order to maintain good vaginal health it’s important to have regular checkups with your gynecologist.
- During a gynecologic exam, your doctor will take a pap smear that can help diagnose diseases (such as cancer) or disorders that can affect the health of your vagina as well as your reproductive system.
- As you reach the ages of 21, your gynecologist will begin cervical screening. These screenings look for changes in the cervix and are used for diagnosing cancer.
Wear comfortable and dry clothing.Keeping your vagina clean and dry is important to reduce the risk of infection and overgrowth of bacteria. Some fabrics can increase heat and moisture in the vagina so avoid the following:
- Wear cotton underwear instead of thongs.
- Avoid wearing tight-fit clothing.
- Change out of wet swimsuits and sweaty workout clothes immediately after you’re done.
Change your menstrual products regularly.When you’really having your period, your vagina is constantly moist so changing products regularly is vital. Extra moisture and warmth can lead to infection.
- Change pads or tampons every 2-8 hours during your period.
- When you’re not on your period, avoid wearing pads or panty liners to absorb vaginal discharge. These can lock in moisture, which can promote infection if exposed to bacteria or yeast. If you need to use panty liners, change them regularly.
Method 2 Quiz
How can drinking water keep your vagina healthy?
Treating Vaginal Infections
Diagnose and treat yeast infection.Yeast infection is a common vaginal infection caused by an overgrowth ofCandida albicansyeast.
- Overgrowth ofCandida albicanscan happen due to antibiotic use, pregnancy, uncontrolled diabetes, impaired immune system or changes in your normal vaginal flora.
- Symptoms of yeast infection include itching and burning, painful urination, gray or white vaginal discharge that is thick, pain during sex, and redness/swelling of the vulva.
- Yeast infection can be treated with antifungal ointment, tablet or suppository, such as butoconazole (Gynazole-1), miconazole (Monistat 3), clotrimazole (Gyne-Lotrimin), and terconazole (Terazol 3).
- In severe cases, your doctor may prescribe an oral antifungal medication called fluconazole (Diflucan).
- Reduce your risk of yeast infection by avoiding douching, wear loose-fitting pants, avoid pantyhose, and change wet clothes as soon as possible.
Diagnose and treat bacterial vaginosis.This condition is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina and is the most common vaginal infection in women ages 15-44.
- Bacterial vaginosis is thought to result from imbalance in the normal vaginal bacteria. New or multiple sexual partners and douching may disrupt the balance and lead to switching from “good” to “harmful” bacteria.
- Bacterial vaginosis may be symptomless or you may notice white/gray vaginal discharge, pain or burning, or fish-like odor. Itching inside and outside the vagina may also occur.
- Bacterial vaginosis may make you more prone to sexually transmitted diseases.
- Sometimes this condition can go away without treatment but your doctor may also prescribe antibiotics. Best way to prevent bacterial vaginosis is to maintain proper vaginal hygiene that supports normal healthy bacterial balance.
Prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).STDs are bacterial, viral or parasitic infections are transferred from partner to partner during unprotected sex. More than 20 types of STDs are known (such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, and trichomoniasis).
- Many STDs can be symptomless but if you do experience symptoms they may include unpleasant odor, white, clear, yellow, or green vaginal discharge, itching, and painful urination.
- Some bacterial and parasitic STDs can be treated with antibiotics whereas others have no cure, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and genital herpes, but can be managed with medications.
- If you suspect you have an STD, contact your doctor immediately and/or make an appointment for testing.
Method 3 Quiz
Which is true of bacterial vaginosis?
QuestionWhy have I been suffering from a white discharge for the last 10 or 12 years?Top AnswererWhite discharge is normal if it is not foul-smelling or itchy. If you're concerned, though, you should see a gynecologist... and certainly shouldn't wait a decade to do so.Thanks!
QuestionCan't washing the vagina with soap cause infections?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt can throw off your PH balance, which can lead to an infection. So be sure to use a non-fragrance soap.Thanks!
QuestionDoes using hair conditioner on your vagina work?Top AnswererDo not clean your vagina with hair conditioner. Do not apply hair conditioner to your vagina for any purpose. If you've used shampoo on your pubic hair, apply a little to your pubic hair after washing. You can also use conditioner for shaving your pubic hair if you have no alternatives such as shaving cream.Thanks!
QuestionWhat could be the reason my vagina hurts all the time?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMany reasons, including yeast infections, BV, herpes, PID, and too many others to list. You should really see a doctor, I know it's not fun, but it could be serious.Thanks!
QuestionWill washing my vagina with salty water help make it cleaner?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo. You should clean your vulva/vaginal area with a mild, unscented soap and regular tap water.Thanks!
QuestionMy discharge comes out clear, a little yellow, and smooth-textured. Should I be concerned?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo. What you're describing is completely normal.Thanks!
QuestionWhy do I get irritated after sex and get blisters?Top AnswererIrritation during sex, especially if infrequent, is common. However, blisters are often associated with herpes. When the blisters occur, go to your doctor and get assessed.Thanks!
QuestionCan toilet paper cause a yeast infection?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo, just irritation. Yeast infections are due to a build up of bacteria.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I tell if my vagina is infected?wikiHow ContributorCommunity Answerif your vagina is infected, there will be itching and skin will start appearing reddish. There may also be an odor or discharge. Consult your doctor if you suspect you may have one, as it's easily treated with medication.Thanks!
QuestionWhy is my labia itching?Em_watCommunity AnswerYou probably have a yeast infection. One of the common symptoms is an itchy labia.Thanks!
Can I use cranberry pills instead of cranberry juice?
- If you are on your period and typically wear tampons, try not to sleep with one. Instead, use a pad overnight.
- If you have symptoms of STD, yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis, seek medical treatment immediately. Some STDs can have serious complications.
Sources and Citations
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