Vaginal hygiene is still a taboo subject in India and it’s a fact that many women, even today, feel uncomfortable talking about vaginal issues even to their close ones or share tips on how to maintain feminine hygiene.
42% of women say they have never been taught how to look after their vaginal health
Given that it’s the most sensitive zone, we are conditioned to think that vagina is unclean and needs high maintenance to keep it clean and healthy.
The vagina is naturally a self-cleaning organ that cleans itself by producing natural secretions.
Here are some of the facts that you need to know about your vagina and its natural cleansing system.
Vagina and its Self-defensive Nature
The vagina is a tube of muscle that joins the cervix and the vaginal opening and is surrounded by the vulva (the exterior organ).
It is lined with mucous membrane and is colonized with healthy bacteria from the Lactobacillus group. Together, they keep the vagina healthy and hygienic with natural secretions and are responsible for protecting the vagina from infections.
Lactobacilli produce lactic acid and help maintain an ideal pH balance and play an important role in keeping the vagina healthy. Lactobacilli also produce hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and other substances which inhibit the growth of pathogens or unfavorable bacteria and yeast.
Do you need hygienic products to keep your vagina healthy?
It’s quite natural if you often feel the need to wash your vagina and most women use the so-called feminine hygiene products hoping to feel clean and fresh. But the vagina is self-defensive and doesn’t require any douches or cleansers to keep it healthy.
There is a range of products such as intimate washes, shaving gels, cleansers, lubricants, douches, and deodorants, available in the feminine hygiene market that claim to clean, freshen, and balance your vagina.
Do these feminine products help maintain vaginal health?
Good vaginal hygiene is key for intimate health. But it’s a myth that the vagina needs extensive cleaning with feminine hygiene products.
45% of women use soaps to clean their vagina which upsets the natural pH.
The truth is they do more harm than good and increase your risk of infections.
For instance, douches usually contain water and vinegar and other commercial products contain antiseptics and fragrances that can reduce the lactobacilli and reduce the protective effect of the discharge.
Some of the women even reported douching their vaginas developed cancer.
Any kind of harsh chemicals introduced to the vagina may damage the mucus of the vagina and upset the delicate balance of bacteria giving a chance to the pathogens to cause vaginal infections.
The mucous membrane that lines the vagina is also very porous which makes the vagina an efficient route for absorbing medication and pathogens. It could be a risk factor for bacterial vaginosis or even the potentially deadly toxic shock syndrome.
Experts advise the women to avoid any feminine hygienic products like perfumed soaps, gels, and wipes as these can affect the healthy balance of bacteria and pH levels in the vagina and allow the growth of bacteria and yeast.
Instead, warm water and some unperfumed soaps are recommended for cleaning your vagina effectively.
The vagina is naturally designed to keep itself clean with natural secretions and is self-defensive and doesn’t need any internal washing or douching or steaming.
The best way to maintain a clean and healthy vagina is just to leave it alone.