How To Keep Your Vagina Happy—Yes, Really

Fact: your vagina is stressed. From the constant products we use (vaginal wipes, pubic hair oils, and the biggest culprit: tampons) to the blunt force trauma that comes with your SoulCycle bike (my fellow cyclists know what I mean), your neatherregion is most likely not happy. And who can blame you: although there is bountiful amounts of “love your vagina” monologues lingering within the internet, no one’s really provided a roadmap of how to properly keep your lady bits in tip-top shape.


We’ve heard the old wives tales of using vinegar to rid your genitalia of foul odor and going for cotton rather than silk panties, but what can truly give you vagina solace? Below, we talk to some va-geniuses to give our minds — and our private parts — some clarity.



Break Up With Your Douche

Seriously, get rid of it. According to Dr. Kimberly Langdon, clinical advisor at Medzino, your vagina does not like your douche. “Douching is dangerous because the normal bacteria (good kind) gets washed out and the fluid can push bad bacteria upwards towards the fallopian tubes,” she says. Dr. Langdon also notes that douching is also linked to pregnancy complications, such as preterm births and premature rupture of membranes.


Since the vagina is self-cleaning, Dr. Langdon notes that it’s absolutely unnecessary to clean the inside. However, if you’d like to the outside of your vagina—the lips, vulva, and perineum—all you need is a mild, fragrance-free soap and warm water.


Speaking of washing…


Choose Your Soaps Wisely

If you’re using bar soap *cringe* to wash your vagina, stop immediately. Dr. Tamara Guichard, OBGYN at Advanced Physicians, notes that you need to wash your vagina with as little chemically-based soaps as possible.


“The best soaps to use are anything that is natural based or very mild and unscented materials,” Dr. Guichard says. “For example, Tea Tree essential oil has many medicinal properties that help fight bacterial growth and keep vaginal odors balanced as well as hypo-allergenic soaps both which counterbalance any excess in natural pH levels. This goes into part of the reason you may experience a range in odors which usually have to do with one of two reasons, the most popular being levels in your pH which can be caused from a variety of things including how often you clean yourself, the technique in which you clean yourself, and of course lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise.”


Don’t Stress Over Discharge

While discharge tends to have a bad rep, Dr. Langdon says that it’s actually a good thing—to an extent. “Vaginal discharge is normal and a sign of good vaginal health if it is clear, white, or slightly yellow as long as it doesn’t have a pungent or foul odor,” she says. “A fishy odor is usually due to the most common form of vaginitis known as Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) and may go away on its own and many women do not even know they have it.” Dr. Langdon also notes that other factors of a foul odor include a retained tampon, deodorants, and scented sprays.



Stay Hydrated!

Staying on top of your water intake is healthy for your overall health, your skin, and unknowingly, your vagina. Dr. Guichard says that dehydration can actually lead to UTI’s and bacterial growth, due to the fact that it’s the picturesque environment for bacteria to grow if not taken care of or flushed out properly. “Your vagina is in a tight, moist, and dark area throughout the day, which prevents proper circulation if you have any residual bacterial infections growing or imbalances in both hormonal and bacteria levels,” she says. “Water specifically acts as a filter that naturally pushes and activates your internal and external vaginal functions.”


She also advises taking daily probiotics (such as yogurt or supplements), as well as urinating after sex and wiping around the external areas whenever urinating throughout the day to keep bad bacteria at bay.


Wipe The Right Way

PSA: you’re probably wiping wrong. Dr. Guichard says that wiping the wrong way can cause bacteria to re-enter your vagina, so always wipe in a “back and out” direction, instead of going up. She also recommends using a baby wipe every now and then to thoroughly clean any hard-to-reach areas.


Don’t Keep Your Tampons In For Too Long

We all know the 8-hour rule with tampons, but are you really following it? According to Dr. Guichard, staying on-track with changing your pads and tampons can actually help your vagina breathe properly. We suggests putting an alarm or timer on your phone to remind you to routinely change your menstrual products on time, and also recommends using pads during the day and tampons at night to allow your lady bits some breathing room during this delicate time.


When you’re off your period, Dr. Guichard also advises sticking to loose pants and underwear as much as possible. “Sometimes having extreme tight clothing can restrict the vagina from circulating the hormonal pH and bacteria which can cause a breeding ground for any infection,” she says.


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Ditch The Razor

While it’s a more painful option, Dr. Langdon suggests waxing sessions over shaving to prevent any ingrown hairs, red bumps, and inflammation. However, Dr. Guichard notes that waxing can cause irritation to sensitive skin types, so trimming with scissors is another option.


But, if you’re a sensitive skin type that wants to keep your pubic area a little more groomed, then Dr. Langdon suggests washing the area with warm soapy water, rinsing well, and applying hydrogen peroxide around the area before and after shaving. Dr. Guichard also recommends shaving away from the growth grain rather than towards it—this may not leave the smoothest shave, but it will help prevent ingrowns and irritation.


If you have an ingrown hair, Dr. Langdon suggests trying a topical anti-acne agent like benzoyl peroxide to help soothe and clean it, but to make sure you apply it as far away from your labia minora and labia majora as possible.

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