Contrary to popular belief, harsh cleansing is not necessary for vaginal health. The vagina is a self-cleaning organ that can maintain and restore hygiene with minimal need for manual washing. According to Dr Denise Willers, an OB-GYN, the vagina contains good bacteria called “lactobacilli” which helps defend against infection, minimise odour and disrupt a healthy pH balance. Dr Willers cautions against douching (soaking, cleansing and washing the inside of your vagina with water) or using products inside the vagina, as these practices can increase the risk of irritation and inflammation. However, the vulva (external genital area) will require cleansing because it does not have the same self-cleaning functions as a vagina.
Dr Kimberly Langdon, says using warm water and your fingers/or a wash cloth will suffice to clean the vulva area. But if you wish to use feminine hygiene products, ensure only the least abrasive option is chosen. It’s important to avoid products with fragrance; strong foaming properties; and high pH levels (for reference, the preferred level for vulvas is between 4 – 4.5). A gentle product, widely approved by gynaecologist is the Dove Beauty Bar for Sensitive Skin because it is fragrance free and pH balanced. Similarly OB-GYN’s also frequently recommend using Cerave cleansers due to the simple and soothing ingredients that won’t likely disrupt the vagina’s healthy bacteria.
Often, we assume vaginal odour indicates an infection. There is no such thing as a ‘normal’ smell because a healthy vagina has its own natural scent that can vary from person to person. In fact, a mild, musky odour is normal for the vagina. However, according to Dr Mary Jane Minkin, if you notice: a strong fishy odour; coppery scent; or chemical-like smell (e.g. ammonia or bleach) emanating from your vagina, accompanied by itching or unusual discharge – this may indicate an infection.
Tip: If you do not have an infection and personally wish to find a quick-fix solution to mask the smell, opt for feminine wipes that are pH balanced and fragrance, oil, paraben and sulfate free. Dr Sarah de la Torre recommends Attn: Grace Flushable Wet Wipes because they are formulated with 99% water and aloe vera. Meanwhile, the Summer’s Eve fragrance-free cleansing cloths are a firm favourite with Dr Sherry Ross as they’re designed to not disrupt the pH.
Everyone has different ideas of what they want their vagina to look and feel like, and some may have no opinion at all about vagina aesthetics (as long as it’s healthy that’s all that truly matters). However, if vaginal laxity and volume loss is something you want to address – vaginal tightening creams are not the most effective solution. These topical creams may provide temporary effects due to their moisturising properties, but they don’t result in long-term anatomical changes. Instead, there are non-surgical treatments that offer more significant results such as are Vagina fillers and PRP injections.
There’s a general consensus that vaginal tightness is directly linked to sexual pleasure. Vaginal tightness can vary among individuals and does not necessarily determine sexual pleasure. Factors like the strength of pleasure receptors, natural lubrication, arousal, emotional connection, and communication with your partner play more crucial roles in sexual satisfaction. Below are some treatments and exercises that can help enhance the feel-good sensors and natural lubrication in this area.
The internet is ablaze with viral raves about the power of vaginal steaming in cleansing the vagina. However, Dr Talia Crawford emphasises that vaginal steaming can actually be harmful and disturb the vagina’s natural pH balance. Steam can also lead to irritation, inflammation, burns, and an increased risk of infections.
Story by Kristina Zhou