Hands up if you've ever wondered the best way to keep clean "down there"? It's a subject that's not given a huge amount of coverage which leaves many of us wondering about feminine hygiene, and whether we're really clued-up or not. Here are our top tips on feminine hygiene.
Lots of women secretly wonder if other people can smell the natural odour of their vagina, but in reality, this will rarely be the case. Unless you have bacterial infection in your vagina that is causing a strong smell (often a "fishy" or "yeasty" smell, along with a thick white discharge), people around you shouldn‘t notice anything at all. Even if you've got your period, people still shouldn't be able to smell this, as long as you change pads or tampons regularly and wash every day.
DouchingExperts used to recommend daily "douching" (washing out your vagina with some type of fluid), but this is now considered a bad idea, as it can upset the delicate pH balance of your vagina that is essential to preventing infections and other unpleasant conditions.
Feminine SpraysFeminine sprays and deodorants aren't a good idea either. Like douches, they only serve to upset your vagina's delicate balance, and make infections and thrush more likely. They are also heavily fragranced, which can cause irritation to sensitive skin.
Treating InfectionsYour vagina naturally cleanses itself, so as long as you wash regularly on the outside with mild soap and water, you shouldn't need to do much else to stay fresh. Try not to let the soap get inside your vagina too much. If you do get an infection or thrush, see your GP for treatment. He or she will usually be able to prescribe oral medication or creams to both treat the symptoms and fight the bacteria from the inside. Don't try to treat the infection yourself using over-the-counter creams - you need to get a definite confirmation from your GP based on your symptoms, as these creams may not be the best option to treat your specific problem, and can destroy some of the "good" bacteria that is naturally present in your vagina.
Wear Cotton UnderwearCotton underwear is the by far the best option. Cotton lets your skin breathe, while other materials like nylon can raise the temperature of your vagina. This then upsets the pH balance and temperature of your vagina (both of which need to remain at an optimum level to prevent infections) and can make you more vulnerable to infections. This is even more true in warm weather, when your body temperature will increase anyway.
Contrary to the messages sent out by the advertising world, you don't need to use fragranced sprays, lotions or soaps to keep your vagina clean and healthy. In fact, this can do far more harm than good. All you really need is good old-fashioned mild soap and water. This will get rid of dirt and grime on the outside without stripping your vagina of its natural oils, which are needed to maintain your vagina's natural delicate balance.