Many women don’t consider intimate hygiene as separate from their regular hygiene routine. However, proper intimate hygiene requires different habits and it’s important because your intimate area is delicate and can be prone to infection.
Your vagina has an acidic pH, more acidic than the skin of the rest of the body, which helps to keep good bacteria (such as lactobacilli) healthy and bad bacteria in check. If you follow proper intimate hygiene habits you can avoid upsetting this pH balance and therefore help to avoid vaginal infections.
Your intimate area is unique. If you use soaps or products that you would normally use on the rest of your body, wash internally (using vaginal douches) or over-wash, you can actually cause or aggravate issues such as odour, dryness or recurrent infections by upsetting the pH balance of your vagina and intimate area.
Your vagina naturally cleans itself with an internal lubricant so it’s best to simply wash yourself daily, with warm water and gentle, un-perfumed products. Some products are actually developed specifically for your intimate area. They help to maintain your natural pH balance while gently, but effectively cleansing.
Always wash and dry yourself properly, especially after exercising. After swimming or working out make sure you change your underwear too, so you stay fresh and clean.
It’s completely normal for you to produce clear or white discharge. The glands in your cervix produce a natural lubricant that keeps your vagina moist. This natural lubricant travels down your vagina, helping to maintain a clean and healthy environment. Simply put, discharge is your vagina’s natural way of cleaning itself and it is a sign you have a healthy vagina.
However, your discharge should not be smelly or make you itchy or sore. Additionally, if it changes colour it could be a sign you have an infection and you may need to see your doctor. Everyone is different so you may produce more or less discharge than other women. You may also produce different amounts of discharge depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle. For example, before your period you may get more discharge than normal and it may be thicker in consistency.
Sex and hygiene
Make sure that you empty your bladder after having sex. Taking this precaution will help to remove any bacteria that might have spread into your urethra (the tube that connects your bladder to just above your vaginal opening) in order to help prevent cystitis. And remember – when you go to the toilet, ensure you wipe from front to back in order to prevent the spread of bacteria.