Genital hygiene is essential to keep your body in ship-shape. Keeping the genitals clean keeps infections away and prevents the spread of sexually transmitted diseases as well. While a woman pays attention to genital hygiene, she needs to understand where to draw the line, especially since over doing it has its drawbacks too. Hence, a proper understanding of genital hygiene is the first step towards a healthy reproductive and sex life.
Why Is Genital Hygiene Important?
The genitals are a part of your reproductive organs endowed with a natural hygiene mechanism. Normally, the naturally occurring bacteria in the vagina known as the vaginal flora, particularly the lactobacilli maintain an acidic PH within it. An acidic environment kills any harmful organisms entering your vagina, as a result keeping your vagina and the rest of your reproductive organs safe. Hence, genital hygiene is important but at the same time you need to maintain hygiene without disrupting the acidic PH of your vagina. Here’s how you can master genital hygiene to the dot.
How to Keep Your Genitals Clean
Remember, cleanliness is next to godliness and so a clean genital area is the most important step towards genital hygiene.
The genital area should be cleaned with soap and water once every day with a mild and fragrance free soap.
Cleaning the genitals just once every day and after sexual intercourse is quite enough. Anything more or less may disturb your vaginal PH.
The internal genitalia or vagina does not require cleaning, especially with soap. This area is endowed with the good bacteria such as lactobacilli that produce lactic acid to destroy any harmful organisms. Washing may disrupt this pH resulting in the entry of unwanted infectious organisms.
Always clean the vulva or genital area before the anal region to prevent the entry of harmful organisms from the anus into the genitals.
While cleaning your genital area with a tissue or even while wiping it dry with a towel, always pat dry and then go from front to back with a single stroke. This prevents the contamination of the genitals with organisms from the anus that are known to cause urinary tract infections amongst others.
Avoid cleaning your genitals with hot or warm water, as doing so may result in dryness and irritation. Using a hand held shower and some cold water is always recommended for this purpose.
General Genital Hygiene Considerations:
Do not share your undergarments and towels or washcloths with others. Always wash these items immediately after use instead of leaving them in the laundry, particularly when suffering from any infections of the genitals like vaginal thrush. Follow a strict one time use policy for these items.
Use only cotton and loose fitting underwear. While loose fitting underwear lowers perspiration and the transmission of harmful organisms from the anal region to the genitals, cotton underwear keeps the genital area dry by absorbing sweat and drying more quickly.
Avoid spraying perfumes, deodorants, and other cosmetics around your genital area.
You may follow the same genital hygiene routine as mentioned above even during your periods (Read also: Normal Menstrual Cycle). Washing your genitals 1-2 times a day while you menstruate is still enough.
Make sure to change the sanitary napkins every six hours or before if soaked.
Using cotton and fragrance free sanitary pads is recommended.
Dmitry Bronfman, MD, is a board-certified gynecologist who specializes in all aspects of contemporary women’s health, preventive medicine, pelvic pain, minimally invasive and robotic surgery, and general, adolescent, and menopausal gynecology.
I have been a patient for almost 10 years and I have to say that the staff has always been caring and professional. Even after I moved I refused to switch my doctor because Dr. Vaizman is simply the best there is.