The Vulva is the most sensitive and infection prone part of a woman’s body. Vulva refers to the external part of the vagina, which includes the Clitoris, Labia Minora and Labia Majora. Maintaining vulvar hygiene is important for all women every day, and more specifically during your periods. However, we often tend to overlook this, either due to laziness or because of a lack of the necessary know-how about how you should clean your vulva, without hurting yourself or raising the risk of infections. Many aren’t aware that your vulva needs to be cleaned, especially during your periods, so that you don’t attract bacterial infections.
The Channel 46 collaborated with Dr Sushma Tomar, Consultant – Obstetrician & Gynecologist, Fortis Hospital, who enlists some hygiene practices that you should follow to maintain vulvar hygiene during your menstruation.
6 Tips To Remember While Washing Your Vulva During Periods
The blood during menses contains several bacteria, thus, becoming a medium of infection. So, the Vulva should be thoroughly washed during these few days. There is no need to douche and clean the vagina, as this part of your body naturally self-cleans. Vaginal douching refers to the process of squirting a solution into the vagina, for cleaning your vagina. This doesn’t work and isn’t safe for your vaginal health. Hence, no products should be used for douching as it only causes irritation, discomfort, and infection.
Here are the 6 tips you must remember while cleaning your Vulva while you’re on your periods.
1. Use Warm Water For Cleaning
Clean your vulva with warm water. Direction of cleaning is important during the wash. Wash in the front to back – the Vulva first and then the anal area. If the anus is cleaned first, then there is a possibility of you getting a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). The “front to back” rule is application for not just washing but during sexual activities as well. If your partner penetrates your anus, he needs to make sure to clean his man part before penetrating your vagina. Do the same if you’re using a vibrator and any sex toys, or fingers anytime you’re using these, more so when you’re on your periods.
2. Refrain From Using Scented Products & Vulva Washes
Scented soaps and Vulva washes should be avoided as fragrances can cause irritation, itching and, in some cases, even infection. Vulva washes and sprays are not only unnecessary but may be harmful as well. They solely pander to your insecurities about your Vulva smelling unpleasant. You can simply use a mild soap instead.
3. Change Your Menstrual Product At Regular Intervals
As period blood is an apt environment for bacteria to thrive in, it is essential to change the sanitary product frequently, especially the pads and tampons every 3-4 hours, depending on the flow. Regarding the cups, they should be washed within 5-8 hours, by rinsing it under water and using a mild, non-scented soap. Also, before changing the sanitary products, make sure to wash your hands to avoid infection. The pads and tampons should be wrapped properly in biodegradable paper while disposing, to make sure the bacteria do not spread. Never flush them through the toilet.
4. Wear Clean & Dry Undergarments
It is essential to wear undergarments that are made of 100 per cent cotton. Why cotton, you ask? It is because nylon and other synthetic fibres tend to irritate the sensitive skin around your Vulva. And it’s a no-brainer that you should change your undergarments every day, not just during your periods. If you are not using clean underwear, then vaginal and uterine infections may be imminent. Not just clean, using dry underwear is equally important because wet or semi-dry underwear is yet again a suitable breeding ground for disease-causing bacteria. Wash your intimate wear separately rather than mixing them with the other clothes. Undergarments should be washed with disinfectant washes, especially during menstruation.
5. Make Sure To Pee After Sex
Peeing after sex eliminates the risk of infections entering your urinary tract. Germs may make their way through the urinary tract, which is a small opening right above the vagina. Not peeing after sex leaves scope for these germs to come in contact with the urinary tract and cause UTIs, which is treatable but a painful health condition.
6. See A Doctor If Your Discharge Smells Foul
Mild odour of the Vulva is normal. This happens due to the vaginal secretions. However, if the discharge smells foul, there is a high chance that there is an infection. In such cases, you should immediately consult a doctor. Consult a gynaecologist if you experience symptoms like persistent vaginal itching, sores and blisters around your genitals, pain during urination and sex, as these are most likely to be signs of a bacterial infection.
It does take a few minutes of your day to keep your Vulva clean – more than what you can spare, given your hectic schedule. But if you really think about it mindfully, you will rather take out a few minutes of your time to keep your vulva clean than welcome the consequences of an infection-prone Vulva. So, make the effort and it will soon become a habit that you would hate to ignore.
Open up like never before and participate in conversations about beauty, entrepreneurship, mental health, menstrual & sexual health, and more. Desi women, join our community NOW!