It is so basic yet so confusing. There are endless products to “freshen” your vagina. So we think—I “need” to “cleanse it”. We think that since we exert so much effort cleaning our mouth, that we should do something for our vaginas. NOT. I have seen countless women over the years with chronic vaginal irritations and infections such as yeast and bacterial vaginosis (BV) that are caused by washing their vaginas with soap or other cleansers. So here is the answer to: How to care for my vagina?
The Inside of your vagina is self cleaning—it needs and wants no help with staying clean. In fact cleaning inside the vagina especially with soap alters the vagina’s natural balance and can cause Yeast infections and Bacterial Vaginosis. See previous posts about these imbalances.
Your inner vaginal lips (AKA labia minora) along with the clitoris and surrounding area like to be rinsed with water when you bathe. This is the part of your outer vaginal area that is always slightly wet and moist but is NOT inside your body.
Your outer vaginal lips which have hair on them (AKA labia majora), and all the area where hair grows does need to be cleaned. This area, and the area around your anus (where you poop from), likes water AND a bit of soap. If you are having problems with frequent Bacterial Vaginosis using soap can be helpful—but ONLY in the area around your anus.
Be careful that the soap isn’t so much that it gets all over your inner vaginal lips. If this seems too difficult to do, use just water everywhere except around your anus and in the skin crease at the inner top of your thighs.
If your vagina has a strong odor after bathing, get yourself checked out by a health professional. The normal vaginal odor is fairly neutral and not offensive. A fishy odor is strongly suggestive of Bacterial Vaginosis. Any strange and strong odor is cause to be investigated.
Sometimes at the end of your period you may notice an old blood smell. This is especially common when the bleeding is slowly trailing off over days of if you have very light periods. When you bleed very lightly it takes longer for the blood to come out. Fresh blood is bright red, old blood is dark brown. Very old blood can look brown and like tar. This is not bad or toxic, it’s just taken a long time to move out of your body and it naturally darkens over time.
Sometimes when you have old slowly discharging blood, more odor happens. In this situation it can be helpful to sweep the vagina. This can be done in the shower only. With water NOT soap. With clean hands with no soap on them. Your can sweep two fingers through your vagina while standing in the shower. This can pull out some of that slowly discharging blood which can get a bit smelly. Do NOT do this in the bath tub as too much water could come inside you and it’s more likely to be soapy or dirty. Do not do this frequently as it too will to some level impact your normal vaginal balance also called your normal vaginal flora (I love that term).
Generally patting dry with a towel is all that you need. However, if you are having problems with frequent Yeast infections, you might try using a hair dryer to dry your outer skin where the hair grows and the area around your anus. This can help get rid of any yeast that is living on your skin. Yeast like warm moist enviroments. By drying you take away their happy home. Do not try and dry your inner vaginal lips which are naturally moist. That tissue needs moisture and is designed for it.
That’s it. Nothing more. Inexpensive and easy.