February 27, 2018
As an OB-GYN, I’m always encouraging my patients to practice good vaginal and vulvar care to prevent some of the most common complaints surrounding the genital area: itching, odor and dryness.
While keeping the area clean and moisturized is the remedy I recommend to my patients, I believe it’s also helpful to reveal the five things you should not do to maintain the health and vitality of your vulva and vagina.
Douching is a method to wash out the vagina, usually with a mixture of water or other fluids to eliminate odors and “clean” the vagina. Women may think they’re doing good for their bodies, but quite the opposite is true. I advise my patients not to douche. The vagina is a self-cleaning organ, so when you use a douche, you’re actually flushing out normal, healthy microbes as well as temporarily changing the pH balance. This sets up an environment that makes it easier for infections to develop.
Some women use perfume or talc to feel fresh “down there.” If you are showering and washing regularly, you shouldn’t have the need to supplement with scented products. Perfume is alcohol based and can cause burning or serious irritation to the vulvar region. Many women use talcum powder around their genitals or rectum to prevent chafing or sweating, but some recent medical studies have linked the use of talc in the genital area to ovarian cancer.
I know this is not going to sit well with a lot of women. However, the truth is that there are just too many issues with shaved hair follicles causing infections. In fact, at the hospital where I perform surgeries, we do not shave patients’ pubic areas but instead use clippers and keep a little bit of length left. Shaving your pubic area can cause folliculitis, ingrown hairs and infections. In addition, the hairs in the pubic area actually help to protect the opening of the vagina.
I hate to rain on anyone’s parade, but many of the sexual lubricants designed to spice things up in the bedroom can lead to irritation. Products on the market that promise to heat up and then cool down are ones to avoid as they are typically alcohol based and can lead to irritation and sometimes burning – for men and women.
Sure, it’s sexy when your significant other drizzles chocolate syrup all over your body as you engage in sexual foreplay. However...aside from this being very sticky and messy to clean up, the reality is that heavy syrups and even natural food flavors aren’t meant to be exposed to the vulvar and vaginal regions. Exposure to these areas can cause irritation and burning and, in some cases, allergic reactions.
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