The Vagina. There, I said it. The intimate area we are all concerned about yet not all of us are familiar or even comfortable talking about, not even with our gynecologists. We explore the basics and some care tips for this wonderful, yet beautifully complex work of art!
If you have a vagina, chances are, you’ve already thought about whether you would need to buy something to help keep it “fresh” down there, especially when you get that monthly mandatory visit from Aunt Flo.
Talking about intimate health issues can be quite embarrassing for many women, blushing at the mention of “vagina” like it’s a forbidden word and even giving it nicknames like “vajayjay”. Despite that, many women recognise the importance of practicing good feminine care to maintain overall health and consider the importance of these products as bathroom essentials.
That said, are feminine hygiene products really necessary? With surprisingly little information available and widely differing views on the matter, it can start to get overwhelming trying to figure out what works best from the plethora of intimate care products popping up. But before we get into what products work, we need to understand how it all works. So, let’s get into it…
Vagina. Vulva. Is There A Difference?
These two terms are often bandied about interchangeably but as a biology major, I feel it is my all-important mission to educate everyone who has either mistakenly or casually use Vagina and Vulva interchangeably. Surprise! They are, in fact, two separate parts of the body.
The term ‘vagina’ has emerged as the term of choice by many to refer to the entire female region between the legs. This is incorrect. The ‘vulva’ is actually the correct term to refer to all of the external organs, including the labia minora and majora, the all-important clitoris, opening of the urethra (aka the hole you pee from) and the vagina.
In other words, vulva is the whole shebang. The vagina, on the other hand, is a tube between the vulva and the cervix where babies pass through during birth and how menstrual blood exits during your period. Now that we have cleared that little kerfuffle up, where do feminine skincare products come in?
The Vagina Is Self Sufficient
The hazard of cleaning your vagina, as many gynecologists have warned, is that it can deplete the Lactobacilli bacteria that keep your vagina at an acidic pH level to prevent any infection. When this delicate pH balance is upset, you might find yourself with a nasty vaginal infection, and this could lead you to want to wash your vagina even more, further complicating the issue.
“The vagina is self-sufficient and self-protective," Dr. Jamie Schultis, a gynecologist at New York's Pure ObGyn, says. "Additional products are really not necessary for normal vaginal, everyday hygiene."
So, Is Feminine Skincare Product A Must Have?
So if that’s the case then are feminine care products still necessary or are they just another worry created by the marketing teams at large corporations to separate us from our hard earned money?
Well, as it turns out, while our vaginas can clean themselves internally, the areas surrounding your vulva cannot be cleaned by themselves and would need a specially designed product to care and maintain your vulvovaginal health. And no, you should not be using your body or face wash which is filled with added fragrances and chemicals that are way too harsh for the delicate skin of the vulva.
“Cleaning the vulva should be a part of your daily hygiene routine,” says Sherry Ross, MD, OB-GYN and women’s health expert in Santa Monica, California, “Though warm water is adequate to clean your vulva, there are specially formulated feminine skincare products that can help to cleanse, moisturise and freshen up your lady bits.”
Basically, leave your vagina alone and clean your vulva delicately to keep your nether region fresh and clear of irritation. A fun fact, your vagina and wine have the same pH level of less than 4.5...but no, you shouldn’t be using wine to wash your vagina either.
Does My Vulva Need Its Own 10-Step Skincare Regime?
When it comes to cleaning the vulva, a ‘less is more’ approach is always recommended. Anything you use on the vulva can easily enter the vagina and it is important to minimise the use of products with fragrance which can cause dryness or alter the pH of the vagina and lead to infection.
Now that you’ve got a basic understanding of the vulva and vagina, the next thing to do is to get yourself started on your feminine skincare journey. If you are looking for safe products that can help you cleanse and care for your vulva without causing any irritation, read on!
First of all, ditch the soap. I cannot stress this enough! We should be cleansing our vulva every day, just as we wash our faces daily. Cleansing is the first and all important step in any routine and using a dedicated intimate wash is important to ensure you do not irritate the delicate skin or upset the balance in your vagina as it can lead to other issues.
Intime Organique’s Intimate Feminine Wash is a pH-balanced daily cleanser that removes impurities caused by sweat, humidity or our periods and refreshes the skin. This fragrance-free cleansing gel for your vulva contains a blend of botanical extracts to help cleanse, condition and prevent dryness and irritation.
If you strive for smooth and supple skin all over, vuvla included, you’ll be pleased to know that there are lightweight fragrance-free moisturisers specially formulated for use around the vulva. The Intimate White Cream from Intime Orgainque is a lightweight cream that nourishes and rejuvenates skin with botanical extracts such as Ginseng, Rice Bran and Sunflower.
This multi-purpose cream can even be used on our other lady bits including our nipples and breasts to ensure healthy skin function. Active botanical ingredient in this moisturiser can even help to brighten dark areas such as our areolas and armpits, and of course, our vulva.
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About the writer
The beautiful half of the successful travel influencer @TodayWeExplore, Cheryl also heads the marketing at Asian Beauty X. When she isn’t trolling the internet for beauty trends, or dreaming up travel vacays, you can find Cheryl sipping ’Gram-worthy cocktails at some trendy bar.