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We should always practice good hygiene when it comes to using period products, but with a real heightened awareness lately around just how easily germs can spread, it's the perfect time to check-in on our more intimate hygiene habits, too. Here are our top 10 intimate hygiene tips to help keep your vagina healthy, happy and infection free!
1. Wash your hands both before and after you use period products (or go to the loo)
Just think of all the germs that live on your hands... you don't want them going up your vag! Wash hands with soap and water BEFORE you touch your privates, and again after. If you're in a public bathroom or stall, use a piece of tissue to lock and unlock the door and then dispose of it.
2. Handle period products as little as possible and be sure to change regularly
3. Wear cotton undies
Cotton is a lightweight, breathable fabric that helps your vagina to breathe and is our go-to, period or not. Keep it fresh and airy with cotton undies (like these ca-yute and super comfy Moxie ones) or if you're at home/in bed, don't wear any undies at all.
4. Always practice safe sex
They say that the safest sex is no sex (bo-ring!! Who invited them?!) but we say go for it, as long as it's safe, legal and consensual (for all parties!). Be sure to use a condom if you're having sex with someone else to help prevent the spread of STDs or STIs, and if you're going it solo, make sure your hands/toys are clean before gettin' busy. Oh and always pee after sex! It helps to flush out any bacteria.
5. Don't share your menstrual cup with anyone else (and vice versa)
Even if you boil/sterilise/sanitise it first, which you should be doing before each cycle, keep it to yo'self.
6. Avoid using any regular soaps or oils to wash your vagina
Your vagina is super clever (duh, as if she's not) in that it's mostly self-cleaning - we don't want to disrupt the pH in there, which is what keeps everything nice and dandy, so avoid using soaps, oils, fragrances or anything else that could disrupt the pH, cause irritation or infection. You can clean the outside (the vulva) with an intimate-care specific wash (make sure it's fragrance free), or with a disposable/flushable intimate wipe, like these ones. Otherwise, warm water is just fine.
7. Avoid wearing overly tight clothes all the time
Super tight jeans and even stockings can reduce air-flow, as can sweaty gym clothes - a lovely li'l breeding ground for bacteria! Shower as soon as you can after a workout and be mindful of changing up your outfits in order to give your best bud a breather every now and again.
8. Wipe from front to back
Yep you read right: when you go to the toilet, be sure to wipe from vagina towards anus and not the other way around. This helps to avoid any harmful nasties from your bum ending up in your vagina, which is sensitive and precious and pretty much best left alone to do her thang :)
9. Don't sit in wet clothes/undies/bathers for too long
Prolonged dampness around the vagina may lead to infection, odour and discomfort. Change out of wet clothes as soon as you can (please note: discharge doesn't count - this is totally normal!)
10. Keep it fragrance free
Please, for the love of all the vagina Gods, do not spray perfumes, use fragranced products or use talcum powder on your vagina. All vaginas have unique smells and this is normal, presuming that it doesn't smell 'off', or fishy - which is a sure sign that something is wrong and it's time to get checked. Everyone odour will be different and can even be influenced by the foods we eat - just keep an eye (nose?!) on it and if it's not smelling right to you, get checked.
If you're experiencing any vaginal itching, burning, discomfort or pain, swelling, changes in urine, or if you notice an unusual odour, please do seek professional advice from a trusted health professional who will able to provide you with a personalised diagnosis and treatment plan.