How to Keep Your Vagina Clean and Healthy

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How to keep your vagina clean and healthy

The vagina is naturally designed to keep itself clean with the help of natural secretions (discharge), without any douches or vaginal wipes.

How to keep your vagina clean and healthy

How to Keep Your Vagina Clean and Healthy

The vagina is a tube of muscle inside a woman’s body that runs from the cervix (the opening of the womb) to the vaginal opening. The external sex organs, which are called the vulva, surround the vaginal opening.

Vaginal Secretions or Discharge

It is normal to have clear or white secretions (discharge) from your vagina. This mucus is produced naturally from the neck of the womb, known as the cervix.

Changes in the amount of discharge can be 100% hormonal – in other words, linked to the menstrual cycle, pregnancy or menopause.

The character and amount of vaginal discharge varies throughout your menstrual cycle. Around the time your ovary releases an egg (ovulation), your discharge usually becomes thicker, then it returns back to usual.

Healthy discharge doesn’t have a strong smell or color, and you shouldn’t have any itching or soreness around your vagina.

If there are any changes in your discharge, see your GP, as you might have an infection.

Bacteria in the Vagina

There are lots of bacteria inside the vagina, and they’re there to protect it. The vagina contains more bacteria than anywhere else in the body after the bowel, but the bacteria are inside the vagina for a good reason.
  • Help keep the vagina’s pH balance acidic to stop other potential harmful bacteria that might enter the vagina, which helps keep the balance of bacteria healthy. Hence, the balance of bacteria is important and when disturbed, can lead to infection and inflammation including itching, irritation and abnormal discharge.
  • Can produce bacteriocins (naturally occurring antibiotics) to reduce or kill other bacteria entering the vagina.
  • Produce a substance that stops invading bacteria sticking to the vagina walls, which prevents bacteria invading the tissues.

Washing your Vagina

It’s a good idea to avoid perfumed soaps, gels, and antiseptics, as these can affect the healthy balance of bacteria and pH levels in the vagina and cause irritation.

Use plain, non-perfumed soaps to wash the area around the vagina (the vulva) gently every day. The vagina will clean itself inside your body with natural vaginal secretions (discharge).

Keeping the perineal area between the vagina and anus clean is important.  You should wash that area at least once a day using your normal bathing routines. It is preferable to wash that area at least 3 times a week on hot days and once a week on cold days.

Plain soaps can be used to wash that area, and perfumed soaps can be used as well if it did not cause previous allergy or irritation.

bacteria

Vaginal Douches

A douche flushes water up into the vagina, clearing out vaginal secretions. Thus, using a douche can disrupt the normal vaginal bacteria.

There is no evidence that douching protects against STIs or vaginal infections, and it may even increase the risk.

Scented Wipes and Vaginal Deodorants

These perfumed products can disrupt the vagina’s healthy natural balance.

Washing with water and a plain soap should be all you need to keep your vagina healthy. It is normal for the vagina to have a smell, and if the smell is unpleasant, or you are using perfumed products to cover up your vagina’s smell, you should see your GP. You might have an infection that needs treatment.

The most common cause of unusual vaginal discharge is bacterial vaginosis, which can cause an unpleasant smell.

Safer Sex

vaginal secretions

Some bacteria and viruses can get into the vagina during sex. These include the bugs that cause gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, genital warts, genital herbs, and HIV. You can protect your vagina against these infections by using a condom every time you have sex.

Cervical Screening

All women aged 25 to 64 must have a cervical screening, to make sure that any abnormal changes in the cervix can be identified early, and if necessary, treated to stop cancer developing.

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