Nowadays, practically everyone follows a skincare routine. It includes cleansing your face and using serums and moisturizers to improve your complexion. What about feminine care products for your private areas?
You can practice good feminine hygiene without using skincare products.
Using warm water every day is the perfect way to take care of your vulva.
You should avoid using perfumed products that contain fragrances, essential oils, or parabens because they might cause irritation or infection.
Most people don't consider developing a skincare regimen for their vulva and they have a good reason for it: the skin there is delicate and shouldn’t be interfered with. However, some people use feminine hygiene products, including intimate cleansers, wipes, douches, and even deodorants, to feel clean and fresh.
How should you look after your vulva and vagina?
The vulva functions as the opening to the vagina and provides a barrier against germs and other microbes that could enter the vagina and upset its delicate pH balance. Ideally, the vulva should be cleaned only with warm water. Since the vagina can self-clean by secreting discharge, cleaning the inside of the vagina is never advised. Additionally, there's no need to apply any hydrating or exfoliating moisturizers and serums to maintain your vulva healthy. Even so, sometimes there are situations when you may feel that water is not sufficient for you. In this case, some products will not irritate the skin down there that you can use.
When can you use feminine products?
Unsatisfactory sense of hygiene
As mentioned before, the perfect way the vulva should be cleansed is by using warm water. But active people often accumulate a lot of sweat and bacteria, so they feel the need to use something more than water. In this situation, you can use gentle washes or soaps that are close to vaginal pH and have no irritating ingredients such as essential oils, fragrances, and parabens.
Atrophic vaginitis is a disorder where the lining of the vagina becomes thinner and drier due to a lack of estrogen. Along with frequent urination and urinary tract infections, common symptoms include burning, itching, spotting, and pain with sex. This typically occurs in the years following menopause, after childbirth, when breastfeeding, while taking certain medications that lower the estrogen levels, after having the ovaries surgically removed, or after chemotherapy. Although estrogen replacement therapy can alleviate symptoms, it is not always recommended or preferred by all women. Therefore, using over-the-counter lubricants and moisturizers for the vaginal area can reduce the symptoms. If you experience this issue, consult your physician to determine the best course of action.
Products for the vulva and the vagina
Never clean the inside of the vagina (use douches) because doing so disturbs the beneficial bacteria inside and alters the pH. Nevertheless, it's crucial to take care of your vulva. The vulva should ideally only be cleaned with warm water, but if that isn't suitable for you, a cleanser that is close to your vaginal pH should be used instead (normal vaginal pH ranges between 3.8 and 5.0, which is moderately acidic). Resist using products that include irritating ingredients like scents, essential oils, or parabens because they can provoke discomfort, inflammation, or allergies later in life.
Avoid using feminine wipes as they typically include irritating additives and are not environmentally friendly. If utilizing wipes to clean your intimate parts is your only option, opt for water-based wipes that are additive-free.
You should never apply deodorants or fragrant sprays close to the area of your vulva because they may irritate the skin and cause an infection.
The active estrogen that is produced by the ovaries keeps the vagina moist, and the vaginal walls thick, and maintains its elasticity. As a result, there is no need to moisturize your vagina or vulva. However, if you experience burning, discomfort, or soreness while having sex, you may be suffering from vaginal dryness and could benefit from using a moisturizer. Vulvar and vaginal moisturizers typically contain hyaluronic acid and are designed to help the vaginal tissues retain moisture more effectively. To provide a continual moisturizing effect, moisturizers are placed into the vagina (as a gel or suppository) around three times per week. Estrogen is not present in over-the-counter vaginal and vulvar moisturizers. Lotions or moisturizers for the face, hands, and body should not be used to relieve vaginal dryness because they can be irritating to the vaginal tissues.
There is no need to use exfoliating products on your vulva. Exfoliating products can be too harsh and irritate your labia minora and labia majora because the skin is very delicate. If you have ingrown hairs or uncomfortable bumps in your vulvar area, consult your doctor for the best solution.
If you are healthy, there is no medical need for using feminine hygiene or vulvar skincare products. It may do more harm than benefit, and there is little proof that they function efficiently and safely. If a person wishes to clean their vulva, they should do so using warm water and, if they'd like, a mild soap. A person should visit a physician if they have an abnormal discharge, an unpleasant vaginal smell, irritation, or a rash.
- UpToDate. Healthy vulval hygiene practices.
- UpToDate. Patient education: Vaginal dryness (Beyond the Basics).
- National Library of Medicine. Atrophic Vaginitis.