We get it, female hygiene can be an awkward topic of conversation, to say the least. But ignoring the subject all together is worse than having that slightly uncomfortable talk. After all, we doubt you got a “How To Clean Your Vagina” seminar in school and who knows if you’ve ever bothered to learn the facts since then. And truly, knowing the correct way to clean this delicate and sensitive part of your body is of the utmost importance to your health.
You know how to clean your hair, your face, and the rest of your body, but when it comes to this critical bit of your anatomy, most of us are clueless. Are there certain products you should and shouldn’t use down there? And how do you go about actually cleaning the area? Why does this have to be one of life’s great mysteries?
Well, OB/GYN Nancy Herta has got the elusive answers to the questions we’re all too nervous to ask, starting with how the vagina actually cleans itself.
“The vagina is pretty good at cleaning itself,” Dr. Herta told Glamour. “It’s a delicate balance that makes the vagina hostile to bacteria. If you put stuff in there that changes the pH, you can allow bacteria to overgrow.”
Similarly, Dr. Jacqueline Walters reveals that, essentially, your vagina has a low pH because it aims to prevent the growth of undesirable bacteria that can pave the way for vaginal infections. It’s pretty amazing what your bodily functions have been programmed to do all their own — but now you want to make sure you’re not messing everything up by meddling with your body’s natural balance.
When it comes to you manually washing your vagina the best answer is…don’t. Store-bought products are only going to mess with you internal pH and dry you out, especially douching; douches have been clinically proven to change the pH of your vagina in a really not good way, allowing all sorts of nasty bacteria to grow. We know the packaging looks so pretty, but put it down, please.
In fact, really nothing should be going into your vagina for cleaning purposes. No cleansers or soaps necessary — the vagina can clean itself without you butting in and basically making things worse.
What you CAN do is clean your labia with a very gentle soap or cleanser. However, the most recommended method for external washing by gynecologists is a plain, sensitive, and unscented soap. Boring but safe is the way to go. After your shower, make sure to pat your groin dry with a towel, just to make sure that there’s no extra moisture down below that might cause a yeast infection.
Ultimately, you don’t have to stress too much about cleaning this part of your body. Truth be told, your bodily functions are taking care of business, and buying expensive products is basically just wasting your money. Go buy yourself dinner or get a manicure instead, because your vagina has got you covered all on its own.