Intimate health and hygiene are linked to the overall well-being of the body. If you are someone who maintains good hygiene ‘down there’, you are in the clear. But, if you are confused as to what clean and good hygiene means, know that there are some dos and don’ts that you ought to follow.
Anika Parashar, the founder and CEO of ‘The Woman’s Company’ — that sells biodegradable women’s intimate hygiene products — warns that unhygienic practices can often result in bacterial and yeast infections, discomfort, UTI, discharge etc. “Maintaining the pH of the vagina is essential. An acidic vaginal pH is a protective environment to prevent bacterial growth. Crossing over a 4.5 pH will make your vagina alkaline, which will create the perfect environment for this bacteria to grow and cause irritation,” she states.
Parashar adds that on the other hand, an acidic vaginal pH may decrease fertility, as sperms require an “alkaline environment” to thrive. She shares the following tips that can help you maintain and understand hygienic intimate practices; read on.
1. Change sanitary pads every 4-6 hours: Pads or sanitary napkins must be changed as often to prevent them from getting soaked with menstrual flow, says Parashar, adding that one can wear a pad overnight or for six hours or more during the day. “If you have a heavy flow, you need to change your pads more often; remember to keep your supplies handy when away from home. Use organic pads as they don’t contain plastic and chemicals, thereby reducing skin irritation, allergies and rashes.”
2. Avoid scented soaps for intimate wash: The vagina is “extremely sensitive”, says the expert, so refrain from using perfumed soaps, gels and antiseptics. “Often laden with chemicals and artificial aromatics, these products affect the pH balance of the vagina, which may cause infections and irritation.”
3. Peeing after intercourse: This practice is key to preventing UTIs, she adds. Urinating within 30 mins of intercourse can protect you; it dislodges bacteria before it becomes a full-fledged infection, and helps to keep your urinary tract clean.
4. Wear breathable clothing: Ensure that your external pubic area remains as dry as possible because moisture can promote the growth of bacteria. Wear clothes that allow your vaginal area to breathe; choose cotton underwear over synthetic fibre. You can also change your underwear twice a day if you have extra discharge, states Parashar.
5. Visit your doctor regularly: Getting yourself regularly checked is essential to maintain vaginal health. Get regular check ups and don’t neglect cervical screenings.
The expert concludes by saying that poor intimate hygiene can affect your day-to-day routine and sex drive, cause fertility problems etc. “These can range from mild discomfort to bigger health issues, if left unchecked.”