The intimate area is more sensitive to infections because of different reasons. These include the skin around this area being more delicate. Constant soiling due to passage of urine and stools. Sexual infections can happen through infected partners. Use of unhygienic toilets can lead to skin infections. Hence this area needs specific care and attention. The basic trick is to keep the intimate area as dry as possible.
Dr Suman Bijlani a gynaecologist and obstetrician tells you how to maintain hygiene in such an intimate area.
Tips to maintain intimate hygiene:
Clean from front to back (vagina to anus) and not vice-versa as you may drag harmful bacteria from the anus to the vagina and cause infection.
Dry yourself completely using toilet paper or a soft cloth after use of toilet.
Avoid the use of western style public toilets unless disinfected well. Alternatively one may use disposable toilet seats.
Change sanitary pads frequently (every 4 to 6 hours during the day).
Undergo annual gynaecological check-ups because some infections do not produce symptoms and you may not even be aware of them.
Report abnormal (thick/stains clothes/itchy/smelly/yellow or green or blood stained) vaginal discharge immediately.
Eat healthy, exercise and beat stress. A good immunity is the key to protection from any infection.
Avoid the use of harsh soaps, deodorants and talc.
Avoid scrubbing. Clean the private parts gently.
Intimate washes are more friendly as they are mild and pH balanced. They may be used daily instead of soap and also after intercourse or the use of toilet facilities.
Wear comfortable cotton inner wear and change twice daily. Fancy synthetic underclothes may cause irritation of the skin.
Avoid wearing tight clothing such as skin hugging jeans and tight underwear for prolonged periods. Salwars are comfortable and make for free circulation of air.
Use lubrication during sex if needed. (Dry sex can cause friction and abrasions which can lead to infection).
Urinate and clean your private parts immediately after intercourse. Then dry yourself.
Remove pubic hair at regular intervals or keep it well trimmed so cleansing is easy.
Avoid douching as it may cause infection.
Obese women have more infections. So, maintaining a healthy weight helps.
Avoid sex if your partner has active genital or urinary infection.
Maintain a monogamous (single partner) relationship.
Problems that women face there during the monsoons
During monsoon, excessive humidity in the air leads to growth of fungi which can cause yeast infection. Besides, you may not get a chance to change damp clothing. During floods, wading through waist deep water can cause direct infection of the vagina.
Myths about hygiene associated with the vagina
Talc should be used daily.
Scrub hard so that you are cleaner.
Douching keeps you clean.
Soap and water is the best way to clean this area. The vagina is acidic and naturally has healthy bacteria which protect us from infections. Soaps are alkaline and this may disturb this delicate pH balance and the healthy vaginal bacteria. Also, some soaps are harsh and may cause irritation.The delicate area needs a gentle pH balanced cleanser which protects better against harmful bacteria and fungi.
Also read: Tips to maintain better sexual hygiene
Content source: DNA