Like menstruation, vaginal hygiene is a taboo subject in India. Many women refuse to talk or give advice on how to take care of feminine hygiene. However, it is important to be aware of vaginal hygiene to keep the genitals clean and the reproductive system healthy. No matter how old you are, there are a few basic rules of vaginal hygiene that every woman should know!
Vaginal health: why is it important?
Although it is rarely talked about, vaginal health is very important. Ignoring the problem of improper hygiene of the vagina can cause many problems in the future. Neglecting vaginal health can have negative consequences, starting with decreased libido and arousal.
However, every woman should be aware of the signs and symptoms of vaginal disorders and take important steps to ensure vaginal health.
- Keep your underwear dry
Not wiping your vagina after you urinate can cause your panties to get wet, give you bad breath, and put you at risk of getting a vaginal infection. Therefore, it is recommended to wipe your underwear with toilet paper or a soft cloth to keep it dry at all times.
Vaginal fluid, or secretions, are part of a healthy vaginal environment. Using products like talcum powder or over-wiping the vagina can make the vagina very dry, causing itchiness and dryness. It also makes you prone to pain and injury during intercourse. In addition, a study  reported that the use of talc in the perineum increases the risk of endometrial cancer.
- Change sanitary napkins after 4-6 hours.
According to Dr. Nupur Gupta, a gynecologist in Delhi, women with regular periods should change their sanitary pads every four to six hours. The same goes for low blood days. However, if you have a lot of discharge during your period, you need to change your pad every 3-4 hours. If you use tampons, change them every six hours. Also, every toilet should be cleaned during menstruation.
If sanitary napkins and tampons are not changed for a long time, there is a risk of skin rashes and bad breath. In some cases, this can put you at risk of infection. Also, some women use reusable pads that need to be thoroughly washed and dried before use.
- Be sure to clean your vagina after intercourse.
Make it a habit to clean your vagina every time you have sex. Because body fluids and condom particles can cause irritation. Also, not cleaning up after sex makes you vulnerable to vaginal infections. Therefore, you should wash your vagina with water after intercourse to prevent infections such as urinary tract infections.
- Do not use soap to wash your vagina.
Avoid using harsh soaps or scented soaps to clean your vagina. Using soaps that contain harmful chemicals such as glycerin, fragrances, and antiseptics can affect the healthy balance of vaginal bacteria. In addition, it changes the pH of the vaginal area, which causes irritation and the growth of harmful bacteria. But to wash your vagina, wash it with plain soapy water, preferably with warm water.
- Avoid washing with water
A douche is a device that pumps water into the vagina to remove vaginal secretions. Douching uses certain chemicals that affect the pH of the vagina. This in turn kills the normal bacteria in the vagina. Additionally, there is no evidence that douching can protect you from sexually transmitted or vaginal infections.
- Say no to scented feminine hygiene products
To keep the vagina healthy, it is not recommended to use feminine hygiene products such as scented wipes, vaginal deodorants, and scrubs. In fact, these foods can make the condition worse and make you more susceptible to infection. In addition, using vaginal scrubs can dry out the skin and increase the risk of infection.
- Practice safe sex
Having unprotected sex puts you at risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, cysts, syphilis, and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Therefore, using a protective device such as a condom every time you have sex is one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, vaginal infections, and unwanted pregnancies.
- It is recommended to wear underwear made of breathable fabric such as cotton. Because wearing tight clothing and underwear made of synthetic fabrics reduces air circulation and causes sweating. Excessive sweating and wetting can lead to the growth of bacteria and fungi, which can lead to vaginal infections. Avoid wearing leather pants, tight spandex, or wet swimwear for long periods of time. Also, change your clothes after physical activity, exercise, or other activities that may cause you to sweat.
- Learn how to wash properly
Are you mowing your lawn properly? Well, maybe not! The correct way to clean the vagina is from front to back (from the vagina to the anus), not the other way around. Because if you do otherwise, you are more likely to attract harmful bacteria into your vagina. So if you’ve been wiping in the wrong direction, it’s time to change.
- Do not shave your hair
Some women prefer to shave their pubic hair because they think it makes them look coarse and dirty. However, studies have shown that pubic hair acts as a protective mesh that protects the vulva (the outer part of the female genitalia surrounding the entrance to the vagina) from bacterial infection .
In addition, the use of non-electric shaving methods such as razors to shave genital hair has been found to damage the genitals. Also, if you plan to do it at the salon, be careful about using products that contain chemicals and tools that can be used without cleaning.
- Do not ignore the symptoms of vaginal infection
Finally, don’t ignore the signs and symptoms of a vaginal infection. If you have a foul-smelling, heavy discharge from your vagina, or colored discharge, see your doctor right away. Also, vaginal itching and pain in the vaginal area should not be ignored, as this may be a symptom of an underlying disorder.
- Never self-medicate
Most women refuse to go to the gynecologist because of diseases such as sexually transmitted diseases, lice, vaginal dryness and itching. In fact, they try quick home remedies like using a baking soda solution to wash their vagina and applying a homemade paste to eliminate odor. Also, if home remedies don’t provide relief, it’s a good idea to use over-the-counter antifungal and antibacterial ointments and creams. But this attitude is completely wrong. If you experience any of these problems, it’s a good idea to see your doctor.
Every woman should follow these basic feminine hygiene tips to have a healthy vagina. Share this information with all your friends, including your daughters. Because knowing these tips early in puberty can make a huge difference in your health and wellness.