Top intimate hygiene tips to help keep you fresh (and infection free) - updated!

May 28, 2024

Photo by Charles Deluvio via Unsplash.

 

In the era of heightened awareness about hygiene and just how easily germs can spread, it's a good reminder to check-in on our more intimate hygiene habits, too, to help keep our vaginas (and vulvas) healthy, happy and infection-free.

Here are our top intimate hygiene tips to help us all practice good care down there when using period products, during our menstrual cycles and on the days in between.

 

WASH YOUR HANDS BOTH BEFORE AND AFTER YOU USE PERIOD PRODUCTS (OR WHEN GOING TO THE TOILET)

Just think of all the germs that live on your hands... you don't want them going up your vagina, disrupting your pH and causing possible infection!  Wash your hands with warm, soapy and water BEFORE going to the bathroom, touching your private area, using or inserting period products, 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 on the way out.

 

HANDLE PERIOD PRODUCTS AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE PRIOR TO USE

Whilst tampons, pads, period cups and other peirod products are not provided to you as sterile, and neither is your vagina, it's still advised to touch them as little as possible before using them on your body to avoid any unwanted bacteria making their way from your hands, to your period product, to your vagina.

 

BE SURE TO CHANGE YOUR PERIOD PRODUCTS REGULARLY

Do what works best for you and your flow, but we recommend changing your products regularly during your cycle to stop bacteria breeding, which may potentially lead to infection and/or irritation.

Always read, follow and keep the instructions for use in pack especially for tampons and menstrual cups - remember to change those AT LEAST every 8 hours (if not sooner, but never leave them in longer).

 

WEAR COTTON UNDERWEAR

Cotton is a lightweight, breathable fabric that helps your vagina to breathe and is our daily underwear go-to, period or not. Avoid synthetic materials and keep things fresh and airy with cotton fibres or if you're at home/in bed, don't wear any undies at all. 

BONUS TIP: Be sure to replace your underwear every year, or more frequently if you wear them for exercise. Even if washed thoroughly, E.coli bacteria can live in the fibres, as can dead skin cells from the groin area, which may lead to infection, UTIs and irritation of the vulva or vagina.

 

ALWAYS PRACTICE 'SAFE' SEX

They say that the safest sex is no sex at all, but there are ways we can minimise the risk of contracting or spreading sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If you're having sex with someone else, be sure to use a condom or some kind of other protective barrier (like a dental dam, for oral sex) to help prevent the spread of STIs.

If you're going it solo, make sure your hands or toys are clean before gettin' busy. If you're using someone else's toys (or hands, or any other body parts that might touch your intimate areas), be sure to sterilise or sanitise them before use as well, and use a condom or other protective barrier wherever possible.

And don't forget: always pee after sex! This helps to flush out any bacteria that may have made its way into the vagina or the urethra during intimate play (note: our vaginas are not sterile environments, but they are a sensitive place and so we need to be careful not to disrupt the pH).

There are lots of ways to experience intimate pleasure that isn't necessarily penetrative (check out some top tips from our The Moxie Periodic Table resident Sexologist, Chantelle Otten, HERE), but if you're going the whole hog, use protection where you can. But overall, as long as it's legal, consensual, protected and fun for all, we say GO FOR IT.

 

DON'T SHARE YOUR MENSTRUAL CUP WITH ANYONE ELSE (OR VICE VERSA)

Menstrual cups, a.k.a. period cups, are personal items and should absolutely not be shared, even if they have been sterilised/sanitised (which you should be doing before each cycle, anyway, prior to your own use). Sharing menstrual cups can lead to the spread of infections, so it’s best to keep your cup to yourself.

 

AVOID USING ANY REGULAR SOAPS OR OILS TO WASH YOUR VAGINA

ICYMI, your vagina is a super clever self-cleaning wonder and doesn't need regular soaps or oils to keep it 'clean' - we don't want to disrupt the pH in there, which is what keeps everything nice and healthy. Avoid using soaps, oils, fragrances or anything else that could disrupt the pH and cause irritation or infection.

Clean the outside areas only (the vulva) with an intimate-care specific wash (make sure it's fragrance free), or with a disposable intimate wipe, like our Moxie Organics biodegradable cotton wipes. Otherwise, warm water alone is just fine.

Be sure to wash daily, especially during your period, to keep things feeling and smelling fresh down there. 

 

AVOID WEARING OVERLY TIGHT CLOTHING ALL THE TIME

Super tight jeans, leggings and even stockings or tights can reduce air-flow, as can sweaty gym clothes, ultimately creating a lovely li'l breeding ground for bacteria. Shower and change as soon as you can after a workout and be mindful of changing up your outfits in order to give your intimates a breather every now and again.

 

WIPE FROM FRONT TO BACK WHEN GOING TO THE TOILET

Yep you read right: when you go to the bathroom, be sure to wipe from vagina towards anus (butt) 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 its thing.

 

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 - experiencing daily discharge is totally normal. Some days you may have a little, a lot, or none!).

 

AVOID ANY FRAGRANCES DOWN THERE

Please, for the love of all the vagina Gods, do not spray perfumes, use fragranced products (including period products) or use talcum powder on your vagina. All vaginas have 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 by your Doctor. Everyone's 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 by your GP.

 

MAINTAIN REGULAR GYNAECOLOGICAL CHECK-UPS

Scheduling regular visits to your gynaecologist is a crucial part of maintaining not only intimate hygiene and wellness, but your overall reproductive health. Even if you feel perfectly fine, routine check-ups can help catch any potential issues early (for example, some STIs are symptomless and you may not catch them otherwise, and it's also important to maintain cervical screenings, too), provide you with guidance on intimate care, and ensure everything is functioning as it should. 

 

PSA: If you're experiencing any vaginal itching, burning, discomfort or pain, swelling, changes in your urine or discharge, or if you notice an unusual odour down there, please do seek professional advice from a trusted health professional who will able to provide you with a personalised diagnosis and treatment plan.



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