The woman’s body is surprisingly well-organized: he maintains his state of health on his own, and sometimes the main thing is not to interfere with him. Pharmacy shelves are full of tubes and jars marked “for intimate hygiene”, and publics daily publish articles on all kinds of techniques and personal care products. Against this background, it is easy to forget the main principle: the simpler, the better. Especially when it comes to intimate hygiene.
In order not to be confused in words, you need to immediately determine the terms and understand what parts of the body we are talking about.
This is the outer part of the female genital organs. It consists of the pubis – a triangle in the lower abdomen – and the labia majora. It opens the outlet of the ureter and the entrance to the vagina, which is called the vestibule of the vagina. Under the vulva lies a kind of intersection of the reproductive and excretory systems.
After puberty, the labia with the pubis is covered with hair, the skin darkens. Everything that is covered by the labia is covered with a mucous membrane. The dense folds of the mucous membrane under the labia majora are the labia minora. Bartholin glands are located between the small and large lips, which are responsible for the constant hydration of the mucous membrane and for the secretion of mucus when excited (not to be confused with vaginal lubrication). In front, where the labia minorae are fused, there is the clitoris – a specific erogenous organ.
That is, the vulva is the only part of the urogenital system of a woman who is in contact with the external environment.
This is the muscle tube that connects the cervix and the vestibule of the vagina. The vaginal mucosa is rich in “good bacteria” that form the vaginal microflora and perform several functions.
Firstly, they maintain a stably acidic environment that inhibits the growth of pathogens. Secondly, “good bacteria” protect the mucosa from “bad” ones, forming a dense film and numerically surpassing the enemy. They also secrete bacteriocins – “natural antibiotics” that help in the fight.
A huge number of microorganisms – bacteria and fungi – live in the vagina. The main defenders, dominant representatives and pH regulators are lactobacilli.
Transparent or whitish discharge with a subtle smell familiar to women comes from the vagina to the external environment. They consist of cells of the inner lining of the vagina, mucus and bacteria. The secretions moisturize the vagina and help cope with pathogenic bacteria by washing them out. During the cycle, precipitates can change their color and viscosity.
3. Crotch and anus
The area of the perineum (between the lower border of the labia and the anus) and in particular the anus itself is a place of accumulation of bacteria that cannot be attributed to a healthy microflora. Hence the basic rule of care: when washing, move in the direction from the pubis to the anus.
By the way, it is especially important to wash babies from front to back – the vaginal microflora in infants only learns to deal with pathogenic microbes and is not so resistant to infections.
Basic rules of intimate hygiene:
- to wash at any age daily once or twice a day outside of menstruation, up to three times during menstruation, as well as before and after sex;
- use a mild hypoallergenic agent without soap with an acidic environment (the package will indicate a pH of 4.2–5.6 – close to the physiological value of the acidity of the vulva). Ideally, if the composition contains lactic acid, which also helps maintain an acidic environment in the vagina;
- wash by hand without using brushes / sponges / washcloths, which can damage delicate skin, from the pubis to the anus;
- it is better to wipe off after washing, gently patting the vulva with a towel, you do not need to rub it dry and with pressure, the towel should be strictly individual;
- daily change underwear;
- during menstruation, change pads or tampons in a timely manner, empty the menstrual cup in time.
Try not to harm the microflora of the genitals with unnecessary efforts. Never worth it:
- use lump soap, shower gel, bath foam for intimate hygiene – their aggressive composition and alkaline pH can cause irritation and itching, as well as lead to imbalance in the vaginal microflora and increase the risk of infection;
- use deodorants and perfumes for the vulva or vagina – they can cause irritation of the mucous membrane;
- wear tight, tight or uncomfortable underwear made of synthetic material (choose comfortable and loose underwear made from natural fabrics – cotton, silk).
Hygienic practices such as douching or washing the vagina can disrupt the microflora, leach bacteria, and destroy the protective barrier. This threatens with bacterial vaginosis, when other microorganisms begin to dominate instead of lactobacilli. The normal state of microflora and the constant flow of vaginal mucus perfectly cleanse the body, so no additional procedures are required.
Hygiene does not mean diligently maintaining sterility. In the pursuit of perfection, it is tempting to use all possible means, but in fact it is better to maintain naturalness: a healthy vulva and vagina maintain their condition independently.