Here’s what you need to know about keeping your vagina and other lady bits clean.
Keep your vaginal hygiene routine simple. (Photo: Sergiy Serdyuk / www.123rf.com)
1. Should I wax or shave my pubic hair? (Or go au naturale?)
Pubic hair does serve a purpose. It provides a cushion from friction, which could otherwise cause skin abrasion and injury, and protects against bacteria and other unwanted pathogens.
Waxing or shaving is a personal choice, of course, but Dr Siew Wai Leen, senior physician at Raffles Medical Group, shares some associated health risks. For starters, you might experience itchiness from the razor blade or reactions to waxing chemicals.
There might also be microscopic open wounds or cuts after hair removal, which could become infected with bacteria. The microscopic wounds in those freshly shaved lady bits are also more vulnerable to viral infections like herpes, warts and other sexually transmitted diseases.
When hair regrows and become curled in the hair follicles, it could also cause inflammation and infection. In extreme cases of skin infection, antibiotics and surgical drainage or excision might be required.
2. Which is better: tampon or sanitary pad?
For active types, go for the tampon. You can still continue almost all sports – even swimming. The tampon is also less likely to emit odours. Although it can be difficult to tell when it’s full, do change it often as there is a risk of toxic shock syndrome if it is left for too long. An overly absorbent tampon can also cause vaginal dryness.
If that’s too much for you, go for the simple sanitary pad. It is available in a variety of lengths and absorbency for a better fit and has virtually no health risks. When not worn properly though, the sanitary pad is prone to leaks and stains, or coming loose – like that #awkward moment when Mexican singer Patricia Navidad’s sanitary pad fell out during her recent performance… Plus, it can be messy to change and get rather smelly.
3. Are feminine wipes and washes recommended?
Dr Siew advises ladies keep their genital hygiene regime basic and simple – sans feminine wipes and washes. That’s because the vagina is home to a very delicate balance of bacteria and yeast, and disrupting it could cause painful conditions such as urinary tract infections, yeast infections and pelvic inflammatory disease.
While feminine products may promise to keep the genital area cleaner and fresher, they may in turn jeopardise this pH balance.
4. So, what is the best way to take care of the lady bits?
– Keep the genital area clean by washing regularly with a gentle soap, or mildly acidic wash, and warm water.
– Always use non-scented products (including toilet paper!)
– Wipe from front to back to prevent bacteria contamination.
– Use 100 per cent cotton underwear and sanitary pads or tampons.
– Pee and rinse vulva with cool water after sexual intercourse.
– Remove wet swimsuits and exercise apparel as soon as you can.
This article was written by Joanna Lee and first appeared in Raffles Healthnews. It has been adapted for www.shape.com.sg.