Feminine Hygiene Tips!

Illustration Anna Sudit

I always think feminine hygiene is an important topic. Most these things growing up I was taught by my grandmother and magazines, - Remember when magazines were actually good and not full of bullshit? Although some young women/older women never had that upbringing where they were able to talk openly or felt comfortable to ask someone. As an adult I can talk to girlfriends about things because sharing is caring & you’re sharing knowledge and with no two bodies being the same the same simple principles for a happy healthy vulva, labia, mons pubis and vagina apply. Yes, I used all of those words because, it’s about spreading correct pro body language. It's important to remember that our vaginas are a self-cleaning orifice. They don't require a lot of excessive cleaning because throwing off the vaginal pH balance of about 3.8 to 4.5 is just asking for trouble, you didn't expect to invite such as infections.

Illustration Lucy Han.
What’s what?
Your vulva is all the parts you can see outside of your body. Your vagina is inside of you. We can all be guilty of saying our vagina instead of using the correct terms but I do think to have a pro body mental attitude we need to be correct with the terms. Most times people say vagina and they mean their vulva.

Starting in the water!
They say water is all you need and honestly it is. If you do use soap it should be as natural as possible and unscented and never let it enter your vagina & urethra. Clean the vulva & both inner & outer labia carefully daily with cool water as warm water can help bacteria to . I do keep a bottle of natural feminine wash in the bathroom but I will only use that while I'm on my period instead of daily, I try not to use it if possible and some of the ones available in stores have harsh detergents and parabens, best to go natural. I've read that women have experienced UTI or yeast infections when washing daily using them because they make you more susceptible to these conditions. Some have even fallen victim of the bubble bath, so if you do feel there’s any dryness or irritation, don’t soak in a bubble bath! When you wash, you wash like you wipe from front to back. Washing or wiping in the opposite direction will cause bacteria from the anus to become trapped in the vagina & urethral opening, giving way to infections.

Some say that you should clean your hands before the toilet because your hands are dirty with daily bacteria on there & you could transfer the bacteria onto your skin when you wipe!

illustration Sarah Hurst
What you do with your pubic hair is your own business!
Nobody should tell you how you should keep your pubic hair, but the past 3 years I’ve gone between hair and less hair and back again but personally I feel more womanly with more hair, I keep it tidy underneath and the bikini line but keep the mound with hair. Having hair is practical because the hair traps any discharge and keeps bacteria off your skin, leading to less to no irritations. If you're like me and prefer to keep more of a trimmed 70s bush than a Brazilian I wouldn't say we've got to work any harder to keep clean because they do say hair helps to fight any irritation from discharge on the skin but as hair does trap sweat, it’s important to keep it just as fresh often.

Yes, there’s a smell.
I remember someone saying women weren’t so fussed about how their vagina’s smell since oral sex became more favoured – well I don’t know about those women but I’ve always cared about how I smell, not out of paranoia but because it’s important to take notice of these things, any change in smell is to be noted. We naturally have a slight scent there and it’s normal. Ladies, do not fret or make any man make you feel bad. Everyone's scent is a combination of loads of bacterias specific to your body but if you notice a foul/fishy/unpleasant change in odour from your vagina, that’s when you need to see your doctor.

Keeping it fresh during your period.
I've found since using the menstrual cup, odour is limited during my period & it’s a lot more freeing for myself but of course this isn't for everyone. Doesn't need to be said but I will still say while on don't leave pads or tampons on longer than you need too. The pads are damp and have natural organisms - such as sweat from the genitals - that have become contaminated with the menstrual blood, are sitting on the pad and they love warm and moist places, left for too long they’ll likely multiple leading to UTI, skin rashes and vaginal infections. While tampons left in can cause toxic shock syndrome, this is a condition where bacteria infiltrate the body, leading to a severe infection, the body can go into shock and needs sudden medical attention in some cases, it can lead to serious complications & even death. Please ladies, change regularly and if possible wash between changes to keep fresh.

Don’t dismiss the discharge
Don't worry about discharge as this is normal, seeing a change can be more hormonal than an infection but as there are different types of vaginal discharge it is worth to take the time to notice. Abnormal discharge may be yellow or green, chunky in consistency, or have a foul odor. These are usually caused by yeast or bacterial infection. Unless you get a foul or unpleasant odour, colour change or any itching/uncomfortable sensations. Visit your doctor to be checked out ASAP.

Underwear is important but so is none!
They always say 100% cotton is better as it allows you to breathe down there throughout the day by stopping bacteria from becoming trapped but one practice I’ve started to get into is at night, going knicker free, of course you can wear something loose so you’re not just all out there but allowing it to get some air during the night is beneficial. Let everything breathe because even at night we sweat and yeast and bacteria love these dark, damp areas to multiply. Of course this applies to gym & swimwear, change out of them as soon as possible.

Keep the juices flowing.
With water and cranberry juice, I mean. You may have been told cranberry juice (the more organic the better because normally store bought cranberry juice is full of sugar which bacteria loves) is good for UTI’s and some regard it as an old wives’ tale but research has shown that it can help to prevent E. coli bacteria from sticking to cells on urinary tract walls but don’t rely on it as an only source. Water, especially lemon water, helps to restore the body’s pH balance and also helps prevent UTI’s and so does peeing after sex!

What are the best tips for hygiene, that you have?

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