Things everywoman should know to keep clean
What every woman should know
Ive recently come across a very good Hub written by Isabella about how not to smell down there. I found it very informative. I wanted to reititerate some of her points and add a few of my own.
Douching:While this may be something that you grew up watching your mom or grandma do routinely, douching is generally not good for you. There are special circumstances where your OB/GYN may require you to, but it is almost always accompanied by a prescription douche or specific instruction. Douching is a great culprit to disrupt your vagina's natural balance and also mask serious infections. Keep in mind, our vaginas are like self cleaning ovens, there is no need to aid with a douche when we have a built in process.
Feminine Products:While some products are harmless and make you smell all fruity or flowery, others may have the same effect and also cause some major irritation. Again, if you are using this as a means to mask unpleasant odors, you are not dealing with the problem itself and wasting money.Remember, every woman has a natural scent...don't mess with the way our bodies are intended to smell. (of course this does not include foul odors which you should contact your OB/GYN about to seek treatment)
Grooming:I am one of those women who like to "look" like a woman and don't really like the whole total bare look. However, grooming your hair around the vagina will cut down odor and overall sweating. I find the best way to achieve this is to use clippers. (remember to properly clean and disinfect the clippers before and after use) Waxing is another great alternative, but it can hurt like the dickens and can be costly depending on where you have it done. Also, you will most likely lean towards being completely bald if taking that route. I would not recommend shaving the area completely as this is a uber sensitive skin and the chances of nicking yourself is too high for my taste! (OUCH!!!) I also do not recommend using a depilatory(ie-Nair) because you risk getting some of the product in you which leads to a long embarrassing conversation with your OB/GYN shaking their head at you!
Airing Out: Let your vagina breathe!!!! If you have a busy schedule like most of us and do not have the luxury of running around barebottom all day long...then let your vagina breathe at night....ahhhhh....skip the panties!(outside of dreary period days of course..ugh) Do yourself a much needed favor and reward yourself with unrestricted comfort. Remember that your vagina is couped up in panties all day (remember cotton undies are best...they breathe!) and they are surrounded by pants or pantyhose and also most of us are conditioned to sit with our legs closed or crossed....SOOOOOOOOOO....its like triple protection fort knox most of the day! LET HER BREATHE.......
Cleaning:This is the area where we "assume" that every woman knows what to do. First off, most OB/GYN's will agree that using the feminine products to cleanse your area is not recommended. Although some of them claim to be "hypoallergenic" they can still contain fragrances that cause irritations(products will list the fragrance as a "moisturizer". true story. ask your dermatologist) Anyhow, you can use a gentle soap on your outer areas of the vagina. Never use soap on the inside or labia minora(opening the lips). You may feel that you are not thoroughly cleaning yourself, but by using soap you kill the necessary good bacteria and cause the bad bacteria to populate leading to a whole host of discomfort and could lead to infections. Water is more than sufficient to properly cleanse this area.
Wiping:Again, this is something that we assume all women know, but there is a very specific way for women to wipe safely. The proper way to wipe is from front to back. It is best to use the "from behind the back" method rather than "in between the legs."The reasoning behind this is so that you do not contaminate the vagina by accidentally wiping any germs from the anus into the vagina.(they are not that far apart) Also, I am a stickler for making sure that I am completely clean, so I would use a wipe after every time that I urinated. I did not realize that I was doing something wrong until my OB/GYN told me to cease and desist. Using a wipe every single time helps you to get rid of that "good" bacteria that your vagina needs. Also, I didn't realize this, but wipes can be very abrasive and cause irritations and dryness. The best solution is to use water. You can use a spray bottle to cleanse the area, or a cup to rinse the area(over the toilet, of course) to refresh your vagina. If that's not practical...I hate to say it but stick it out until you can. In the most extenuating circumstances, use a wipe sparingly.
Last but not least:Just as you should get to know your breasts, (don't forget your monthly breast exams!) you should also know your vagina. You should know yourself just in case anything should arise...you will know the difference! Do not self diagnose either. If something that is completely out of the ordinary persists over a period of time, contact your OB/GYN immediately. Also, do not be afraid or embarrassed to ask your OB/GYN your "weirdest" questions. Believe me, they've heard it all before, and by asking, you may some gain knowledge to a healthier you!
Well those are my little nuggets for now. Hope that I have helped in some way. :)