Feminine Hygiene—What You Need To Know

Woman in a bath tub

Feminine hygiene is so important to our overall health. In addition to keeping our skin clean and free of bacteria, it can prevent odor, itching, and discomfort from perspiration.

Feminine hygiene involves more than just bathing or showering. It encompasses a whole spectrum of practices women should follow to be healthy. Most of us learn these skills from our mom, sister, or friends. Or we just figure it out for ourselves.

But, not every aspect of this topic is well-known. For example, whoever taught us to always wash our new jeans, panties, shorts, or other clothing bottoms before we wear them? You should, because dyes and other chemicals on new clothing can cause your vaginal area to become irritated or infected. I have noticed some clothing that will put this on the label, but not often.

During your menstrual cycle, be sure to wear fabrics that allow your vaginal region to breathe. Wear loose, breathable, clothing like loose panties that allow for air circulation. Natural, breathable fabric such as cotton is preferred. Wear thigh-high pantyhose or pantyhose made with a cotton crotch to reduce the vaginal sweating caused by nylon and other synthetic fabrics.

When not on your cycle, try to sleep without wearing panties or pajama bottoms if possible, as this will provide your vagina with the air circulation needed to help prevent infection.

Tight pants, shorts, or panties made from synthetic fabrics can reduce the air circulation around your vagina and cause it to sweat, which can increase your chances for odors and infection.

Remove wet, sweaty bottom clothing as soon as possible. Wet or sweaty panties and pants can cause bacteria to multiply and increase your likelihood of getting odors and infections. Take a shower and wear fresh, clean clothing after you have gone swimming or exercised.

Of course, bathing or showering daily is the beginning of developing healthy habits. It is so important to wash the skin daily to get as much bacteria off as possible to prevent sickness and infection. Sweat is the body's way of removing waste & bacteria from the body. So it should be washed off every day. In the shower, wash the vagina externally with mild soap, then rinse with fresh water and dry off immediately with a clean towel. If you have problems with excessive sweating, abundant discharge, rashes, folliculitis, or pimply lesions on your Mons Pubis or inner thighs, be sure that you use a new sharp razor to shave and that you change the razor after 4-5 uses.

You can use a blow dryer to gently dry the external vaginal area around pubic hair, inside the creases & around the vaginal lips (Labia Majora & Minora), between your buttocks, and all over the outer groin area. This can reduce irritation and infection.

Use moist baby wipes instead of toilet paper and always wipe from the front toward the back. This will help ensure that fecal matter and bacteria won't be pushed into the vaginal canal.

Never use chemical douches, deodorants, sprays, or powders. We never recommend douching, as these products usually cause more infections by disrupting your natural pH, hormones, and the delicate chemical balance of your vagina. Women who use these products and douche with chemicals will be battling ongoing irritation and infections on a regular basis.

Be sure to change tampons, sanitary napkins, and panty liners frequently - this means every time you use the restroom or at least every 3-4 hours. When pads and tampons are worn for long periods of time bacteria can build up. Not only can it cause foul odors, but especially with tampons, it can cause mild to very serious infections like toxic shock syndrome.

If you can, try to use menstrual products that do not contain scents or dyes. And try to find the all-cotton pads and tampons because some of the commercial products contain fiberglass. This fiberglass can find its way into your vagina or under your skin, causing non-infectious irritations.

Always wash your vaginal area after sex to rinse out the semen, bodily fluids and residue from condoms and other intimate products. All of these can cause infection, irritation, and odors if not removed.

I think it's important for us all to just get into a routine like we do with our hair and nails. Then it just becomes easy and we feel better.
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