The good news is, we actually don’t need to clean the vagina per se, because vaginas have wonderful self regulation and cleaning abilities! The pH environment of the vagina is acidic, and that makes it hard for bad bacteria to thrive.
What we do need to do, to ensure a clean vagina environment, is to clean the area around the vagina (the vulva) and the anal region.
1. Now the skin around the vagina is sensitive, so most experts recommend the best way to clean it is just washing with plain water.For those who feel squeamish or prefer to use soaps, unscented soaps are recommended to prevent irritation to the sensitive skin. As soaps are generally alkaline, too much of it and vigorous washing can actually disturb the delicate pH balance, resulting in possible infections.
2. For those who are used to washing with sponges or washcloth, consider using your hands instead because 1) you may be washing more vigorously than what your delicate skin can take, 2) bacteria and mold can grow in sponges and washcloths if they are not properly aired and dried.
If you prefer to use unscented soap, experts suggest not to use soap to wash the vaginal area more than once a day for the same reasons why they think soap is unnecessary.
3. So, about the actual washing process – Wash your hands clean first. Then make sure to gently clean between the folds of the labia. The labia are folds of skins that surround and protect the clitoris, urethra and vagina opening.
Just like every part of your body that sheds dead skin, the vulva also sheds dead skin and sometimes vaginal discharge can also be found lurking between the folds. Just give it a good gentle rub to rub away the debris and do not use your fingernails to dig! Nasty stuff can hide under the nails and we certainly do not to break the surface of the sensitive vulva skin and introduce possible infections.
4. During shower, most people tend to wash their nether regions at one go. It is recommended to wash the vulva area first, before proceeding to the anal region. This is so that we do not accidentally introduce bacteria from the anus to the vagina.
5. Likewise, when wiping dry, wipe from front to back. Anatomically speaking, while it is more easy to wipe from back to front, the inherent risk of introducing the bacteria environment in the anal region which is totally different from the vagina, is totally worth the effort in changing your habit.
6. Another thing that most experts recommend to avoid, other than those scented, beaded shower gels/soap, is douching. I cannot stress the importance of avoiding douching, Douching will tamper with the internal pH environment of your vagina, destabilizing the peaceful balance of microbiota that exists within.
Our vagina is made to self regulate and self clean. Please trust the wisdom of our body to know what to do. It took me years to recover from the foolish mistakes of douching in my younger days to regain some semblance of balance within my vagina. I truly believe my odors from infections worsened after I started douching. The temporary relief of psychologically perceived cleanliness from douching is so NOT worth it.
In the spirit of prevention is better than cure, here are a couple more things to remember that can help maintain the vaginal health.
- Do remember to remove and change your pads/tampons/menstrual cup regularly when on your period.
- Wear breathable underwear and loose clothing to allow good airflow. Bacteria thrive in moist and humid conditions.
- For sexy fun times, it is strongly recommended for your partner to switch condoms for each region if both of you are enjoying both anal and vaginal penetration. It follows the same rationale as points 5 and 6.
- Also, remembering to sterilize your sex toys/gadgets after usage is very important too. You can have fun and still stay safe. Remember, prevention is always better than cure!