When it’s only you who takes your pants off at night, genital hygiene can seem like a big waste of time — because who’s going to know? Having another person to clean up for can be incredibly motivating, especially when that other person’s tongue might end up between your thighs. (Seethis post if you need a reminder of how intricate pre-sex rituals can get.) But when there isn’t anyone but yourself to be naked with, it’s easier (in my experience) to let a lot of things slide, cleanliness — of house and body — being among the easiest.
But as with good oral hygiene, good personal hygiene isn’t just so you can impress the next person you smile at; it’s also preventative. There are billions and billions of bacteria living on our bodies, and a lot of them especially love the damp, dark crevices — between teeth, under arms, behind knees, in and around labia. Keeping a healthy balance between bacteria that mostly help us and bacteria that mostly harm us is something good personal hygiene for women accomplishes that isn’t just about being tidy for oral sex — it’s also about being healthy and comfortable.
When we’re pretty healthy overall, our bodies generally have natural ways of cleaning their systems and don’t require much help from us. But the human organism is incredibly sensitive — just consider how small a change in temperature is needed before you begin feeling uncomfortably warm or cold. Even just run of the mill stress can be enough to throw off these natural systems and upset the body’s balance. Good personal hygiene for women — oral, genital— is a way of aiding the body’s natural capacity for cleanliness so that when it’s stressed, less-than-helpful bacteria don’t proliferate, which can overwhelm our immune systems.
Some really uncomfortable female genital hygiene conditions, like yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis (BV), can happen when conditions in and around the vagina get unbalanced. And BV is more serious than just a hygiene issue: women who have BV are 60% more susceptible to HIV and other STIs than those without BV, and they can infect their partner(s).
The basics of good female genital hygiene
It begins and ends with bacteria — keeping their numbers in balance through consistent efforts. Here are some good feminine hygiene tips that contribute to this balance:
Daily, especially after exercise — with a gentle cleanser that helps to balance vaginal pH levels. In chemistry, pH is a numeric scale used to specify the acidity or alkalinity of an aqueous solution (thanks, Wikipedia!). Our bodies like to live within a very narrow range of this scale; when things get too acid or basic, living systems can become unbalanced and suffer. Good Clean Love’s Balance is a pH-balanced, gentle cleanser that’s perfect for keeping genitals clean and healthy.
Use a good lube
We’ve known about the importance of this for a while (you can read about some of the studies we’ve been involved with here), and we’ve been working on making the best lube for helping to restore healthy vaginal conditions. Hence Restore, a personal lubricant that doubles as a feminine moisturizer, which can be especially good for those suffering from vaginal dryness associated with menopause. Our other lubricants are also excellent as part of your good genital hygiene routine as they’re water-based and made with natural ingredients.
Wear comfortable underwear and pants
We can’t say this enough: let your body breathe. Underwear that helps wick moisture can keep vaginal conditions from getting so moist and warm that bacteria proliferate. (Check out the panties THINX is making — we haven’t tried them yet, but they sound (and look) great.) And pants — keep them a little loose, so they’re not riding up your crotch all day, and your body will thank you. Others probably will, too, because you’ll feel better and be more relaxed.
Traditional douches can really throw your bacterial balance out of whack. If you have issues with odor, check out our thorough post about 5 Alternatives to Douching. Also, make sure your sanitary products are free of artificial scents as these can be really irritating to sensitive tissue.
Eat well, and exercise
What all decent doctors have been saying for a long time. You’ll feel better because you’ll be better. As far as what to eat — there’s a lot online about foods that supposedly make your vagina smell “better” (pineapple, for instance, and garlic), but it seems the most important thing is to eat a balanced diet. (“Foods that make your vagina happy and healthy” all seem pretty good whether or not they directly impact what’s happening in your pants.)
The takeaway here is this: good female genital hygiene is too important to put off for when you have a date — it should be part of a daily routine of respecting and caring for your body so that it can continue helping you feel your best. Stay tuned for more feminine hygiene tips, here at Good Clean Love.