If there’s one body part that women are overly concerned about keeping clean, it’s our vaginas. This is because we’ve been taught that our vaginas are stinky, dirty, and gross – something to be ashamed of. As a result, we’re often searching for a solution when we get that “not-so-fresh feeling” that society and marketers warn us about.
Perhaps this is why, in recent years, there has been a growing trend of using vaginal cleansers – some of which claim to balance vaginal pH. While the intention behind these products may be to promote cleanliness and freshness, the reality is that they can do more harm than good.
In this article, we’ll explore why women should avoid vaginal cleansers and provide alternative solutions for maintaining vaginal health – as recommended by gynecologists.
The importance of our vaginal microbiome and pH balance
Before we dive into the issues (and potential dangers) of vaginal cleansers, we need to understand the significance of the vaginal microbiome and how it works to keep your vagina clean.
The vagina is home to a delicate balance of beneficial bacteria, which maintains a pH level of around 3.8 to 4.5. If you remember all the way back to middle school science, this is a slightly acidic pH level (with 0 being acidic, 7 being neutral, and 14 being basic).
This acidic environment helps protect the vagina from harmful pathogens, maintaining a healthy balance of microorganisms, and preventing infections.
Which brings us back to our main question:
Do I really need a vaginal cleanser or feminine wash?
The short answer is no. Vaginas are self-cleaning and, for the most part, self-regulating. In fact, using vaginal cleaners can disrupt this process and cause more harm than good.
Vaginal cleansers, including douches and washes, disrupt the balance of the vaginal microbiome. The chemicals and fragrances in these products can irritate vaginal tissues and kill off the beneficial bacteria responsible for maintaining a healthy pH.
Using vaginal cleansers can lead to an increased risk of vaginal infections. These products can create an environment in which harmful bacteria and fungi can flourish, causing discomfort and potential health complications.
While some vaginal cleansers claim to balance vaginal pH, they often do the opposite. The vagina is capable of regulating its pH naturally, and using cleansers can disrupt this process. Attempting to alter the pH with products can lead to irritation and long-term damage.
Many vaginal cleansers contain fragrances and synthetic chemicals that can cause allergic reactions or irritate those with sensitive skin. These reactions can further exacerbate discomfort and disrupt the natural balance of the vaginal environment.
Right now, you may be wondering: “If I’m not supposed to use vaginal cleansers down there, how should I keep that area clean?”
We get it – after all, just because your vagina is self-cleaning doesn’t mean it doesn’t get sweaty just like other body parts. Here are some tips to maintain proper vaginal health and hygiene.
The most gentle and natural way to maintain vaginal hygiene is to use warm water during your daily shower or bath. If you do use soap, make sure it’s mild and unscented. Wash the external area and avoid any insertion into the vagina.
Opt for cotton underwear, as it allows for better airflow and helps prevent moisture buildup, which can create an environment where bacteria can grow and thrive, leading to possible infection.
Steer clear of scented soaps, bubble baths, and perfumed products in the genital area. These can disrupt the vaginal pH and cause irritation.
A balanced diet rich in probiotics (like yogurt and fermented foods) can promote overall vaginal health by supporting a balanced vaginal microbiome.
Drinking enough water is crucial for maintaining hydration and supporting your body’s natural processes, including the maintenance of vaginal pH. If you’re drinking plenty of fluids but find yourself experiencing vaginal dryness, consider a mild, water-based product such as the Mia Vita Personal Lubricant & Moisturizer.
If you’re experiencing unusual vaginal symptoms, such as itching, odor, or unusual discharge, consult a healthcare professional. Self-diagnosis and self-treatment may lead to further complications.
While the marketing claims of vaginal cleansers may sound appealing, they often do more harm than good. The best way to maintain a healthy vaginal environment is to embrace natural, gentle hygiene practices and consult a healthcare provider when necessary. Remember, your body is equipped to take care of its vaginal health, and it often does so best when left to its own devices.
FemmePharma has been helping women navigate menopause for over two decades. No matter where you are in your journey, you deserve to have knowledgeable, intimate healthcare partners to help you feel your best. Explore our other articles, podcast episodes with women’s health experts, and products to ease your transition into menopause.