Contrary to what you may have heard, keeping your genital area clean is simple and easy. The vagina is self-cleansing, which means there is no need for expensive products that clean it internally.
There is a large market that sells women unnecessary products to clean their vaginas. Not only is this psychologically harmful—making women believe the vagina is inherently dirty—but can also be physically damaging.
General care for the genitals should be external only. Washing yourself with water and a gentle cleanser will do the job. Think of it this way—wash what comes into contact with your underwear.
Body hair has been used to shame women for generations. Advertisements link leg hair, underarm hair, and genital hair to bad odours and a lack of hygiene. In truth, as long as you wash regularly, body hair has little impact on odour. Read more about body hair
The myth about urinating
A surprising number of people still think that women urinate from their vaginas. Actually, urine passes through the urethral opening located just above the vagina. The tiny opening is not easily spotted and this reinforces the misconception that urine passes through the vagina.
This myth also perpetuates the idea that the vagina and vulva are dirty. Countless feminine care products claiming to clean the vagina or give it a fresh scent have been created in reaction to this myth. The vagina has its own natural scent. It does not smell like roses or lavender and there is nothing wrong with that. If you notice an unpleasant fishy smell, you may have an infection and should consult your gynaecologist. It is important for women to be aware of their natural odour so that they can tell when something in wrong.
From douches and deodorants to steaming devices and jade eggs—products are created and marketed to women for profit, not for necessity.
The vagina is sealed from the outside world. It has its own microbiome, also called the vaginal flora. This means that the vagina contains specific bacteria that protect the uterus and maintain a slightly acidic pH level that can be easily thrown off balance by internal cleaning products.
Period Tracker & Calendar
You can track your period using WomanLog. Download WomanLog now:
You can track your period using WomanLog. Download WomanLog now:
Feminine hygiene products
A number of products are available to manage period bleeding, including some that are used internally such as tampons and menstrual cups. When choosing the most practical and healthy options for you, there are a number of things to consider. What are the most environmentally friendly options for period products? What is toxic shock syndrome? What are best practices for period hygiene? You can read about these topics by clicking on the links that interest you.
A few period hygiene basics to keep in mind are:
Wash your hands before and after inserting menstrual products in order to avoid introducing dirt or germs into to vagina that can cause infection.
Change your tampons or pads regularly and rinse out your menstrual cup. Each product comes with specific instructions regarding how long it is safe to use inside the body before changing or rinsing—usually 6 to 8 hours.
Do not use products that promise to reduce unpleasant odours. The chemicals will likely do your vaginal flora more harm than good. Instead, wash your vulva gently and more often during your period.
Consistency is key when it comes to washing yourself and your genitals. This may seem self-evident, but misinformation has led many of us to believe we need to do more in order to be acceptably clean.
Genitals have their own natural scent. A shower or bath will suffice to rid yourself of the smell of sweat that accumulates during the day. Pay attention to your upper thighs, vulva (make sure to wash between all of the folds and creases), and between the butt cheeks, taking care to gently cleanse the anus. When washing this area, remember to wash from front to back so bacteria from the anus does not come into contact with the vulva.
For intimate areas use hypoallergenic cleansers and wash using your hands. Rougher materials such as loofas or sponges can cause irritation. When it comes to the orifices that open our bodies to the outside world, nature has devised ingenious mechanisms to make sure everything stays clean— tear ducts rinse clean our eyes, snot removes anything that shouldn’t be in our noses, urination and bowel movements remove waste from our digestive systems, and the vagina cleans itself via vaginal discharge.
Simplicity is key. Wash your hands before and after, wipe front to back, make sure your toilet seat is clean or cover it with a protective layer. Special “feminine wipes” are available at drugstores and can be used on occasion to freshen up. Baby wipes also work just fine, but scented or antibacterial wipes, intimate deodorants, and scented panty liners all fall into the category of unnecessary and potentially harmful products.
Wet wipes can be useful when traveling or when water isn’t available. However, they are not a substitute for bathing, and should not be used as such.
Underwear plays an important role in keeping your vagina healthy and clean. Some basics to keep in mind include:
Change your underwear daily and wash it with mild detergent. Using laundry conditioners or scented detergent can be harmful for your vaginal flora.
Choose a natural and breathable fabric for your every-day underwear, such as cotton or bamboo. Synthetic fabrics can be worn on occasion but wearing them regularly over a long period of time can facilitate yeast infections or UTIs.
Make sure your underwear fits—underwear that is too tight can cause chafing and, if bacteria become trapped, contribute to painful yeast infections or UTIs.
Not wearing underwear can be beneficial—air flows freely and heat and moisture don’t get trapped around your genitals, which can minimise odour. However, if you do decide against wearing underwear, all of the hygiene practices usually attributed to underwear must now be applied to your other clothing.
Additionally, when wearing skirts or dresses, be careful not to let your genital area come in contact with any unsanitary surfaces. This includes park benches, the ground in public areas, and seating on public transportation.
Going commando is highly recommended while sleeping. Much like taking your bra off, sleeping without panties frees your genitals from any constrictions. If you aren’t comfortable sleeping naked, choose undergarments and sleepwear made of natural and breathable fabrics.
Sexual hygiene is one of the keys to a healthy vagina. Of course, there is more to good sex and a fulfilling sexual relationship than hygiene, but it is good place to start. The most important aspect of sexual hygiene is keeping yourself safe from any STIs and UTIs. This is where barrier contraception comes into play—using male or female condoms is the most reliable way of reducing the risk of contracting and transmitting disease.
In order to avoid UTIs, pee right after sex. This will flush out any bacteria that may have potentially entered the urethra during intercourse.
Some people enjoy anal sex, but the practice does come with its own hygiene rules. Anything that has entered the anus must always be washed before using it in the vagina. This includes penises, fingers, and toys. The bacteria inside the anus can cause infection if it enters the vagina. Also, make sure you use lubricants when performing anal sex as the anus doesn’t produce its own natural lubricant. If you are worried about faecal matter, it can ease your mind to know that most faecal matter does not sit in the rectal canal or anus; it is stored in the colon until evacuated. You can clean your anus before engaging in sex by washing around it or by using a rectal enema to rinse out any residue.
If you want to find out more about how to protect yourself during sex, read our article here.
Diet and lifestyle
The final component to good feminine hygiene is maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Just like the rest of your body, the health of your vagina is influenced by the foods you eat, how much water you drink, your sleep patterns, and how much you exercise—so for a happy, healthy body and vagina eat nutrient-dense foods, hydrate from the inside, turn off your devices several hours before bedtime so the blue light doesn’t keep you from sleeping, and get sweaty several times a week!
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Painful penetration or dyspareunia is defined as persistent or recurrent genital pain that occurs just before, during, or after intercourse. Many women experience discomfort during vaginal penetration now and then. But for some, painful sex becomes a regular part of their intimate lives.
Sex is an integral part of most committed romantic relationships. Trying out new positions is a good way of maintaining emotional closeness and learning more about your needs and the needs of your partner. You don’t need to do anything crazy—even small changes can help you achieve better orgasms and generally enjoy a more exciting and pleasurable experience.
Taking charge of our menstrual cycles can be empowering—knowing when to expect periods and reducing or even eliminating accompanying symptoms makes it much easier to manage, and frees up time and energy to use as we see fit!
Hormonal birth control doesn’t work for all women—some experience side-effects, others just aren’t comfortable with the idea of altering their bodies in such a fundamental way. These are the alternatives.
Vaginal mycoses, or vaginal yeast infection (also called candidal vulvovaginitis, vaginal thrush, or candidiasis) is extremely common. Mycoses is found in about 20% of vaginal secretions tested in laboratories. The pain and discomfort caused by this condition often requires immediate medical attention.
In recent years, the number of instances of explicit non-consensual content being published online has been growing at an alarming rate. As more people use the internet to do their jobs, manage their social lives, and try their luck at dating, the danger of cybercrime increases. Revenge pornography is a cybercrime mainly committed on social networks or similar platforms.
A visual comparison of the human male body and the human female body reveals many similarities, but the differences are immediately apparent. The reproductive organs are the most obvious difference—the physical expression of the chromosomes that determine biological sex.
Dating and relationships aren’t easy for anyone. Finding a partner can be even more challenging for asexual people. An asexual person has little or no sexual desire for others, which means they tend to abstain from intercourse and other sexual acts. When one partner has little interest in sexual intimacy, it can be tough for a partner who desires sex to maintain an emotionally intimate relationship.
The pleasure gap is an issue affecting many heterosexual couples. When one of the partners experience fewer orgasms during sex, the gap grows. To close the pleasure gap between men and women, it’s important to rethink heterosexual sex.
Ageing and sexuality are two themes human society has surrounded with myths and stereo-types. Just because our bodies change doesn’t mean our appetite for sex and intimacy disappears. What does it mean to manage your sexuality later in life?
Despite cultural and scientific progress, there is still an air of mysticism and misconception surrounding female arousal and orgasm. Both men and women still struggle to understand what makes the female body tick.
Safe contraception should be available to everyone. Access to contraception allows us to plan for pregnancy, protect ourselves from sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and gives us more control over our lives.
Non-penetrative sex, a.k.a. outercourse, is sex without sexual penetration. There are a variety of reasons why a person might choose this over penetrative sex, including preference, safety, mental and physical restrictions, and personal boundaries.
Virginity is the state of not yet having engaged in sexual intercourse. It is impossible to see if a man or woman is a virgin just by looking at them. Virginity is a concept—there is no medical or biological definition of virginity. It is a mythologised status, the idea of a transition from one state to another, an initiation after which the informal status of a person has changed.
The sexual needs of people who live with disabilities are the same as everyone else’s but overcoming the stigma and gaining access to basic sexual-health-related information and services is much more challenging for them. Those with disabilities are still disproportionately underserved when it comes to sexual education and resources, both as adolescents and later in life. In this article, we discuss how to make information about sexual health more accessible for everyone, regardless of our physical or mental capabilities.
Long-distance relationships occur when lovers are separated by considerable physical distance. They live in two different cities, countries, or even continents and cannot routinely meet in real life due to their work and study obligations or for other reasons (such as the restrictions enforced because of an unprecedented global pandemic).
Sexual harassment is defined as an unwelcome sexual advance. If you have received unwelcome suggestive comments, have been touched without your permission, or have been bullied or coerced into complying with a sexual advance, you have experienced sexual harassment.
Hidden within the vulva, the clitoris is an erogenous organ of the female reproductive system. How big is it? What is its role? Why does it give pleasure when caressed? Let’s discover the mysteries of the clitoris.
Natural processes are messy, and often require a set of guidelines for people to follow in order for them to be both safe and enjoyable for everyone involved. Being informed can make the difference between a wonderful experience and a terrible experience.
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a pathogen that, in the absence of treatment, results in acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a condition that undermines the body’s natural defense systems, rendering it vulnerable to disease.
Whether you maintain an active sex life throughout the month, or avoid sex during your period for any reason, there is still something of a taboo around sex while menstruating. The questions we have about this topic often remain shadowed in uncertainty.
Hormonal contraception has been an effective tool for helping women gain more control over family planning and reproductive health. However, changing the way your hor-mones function is not a trifling matter. There may come a moment when a woman wants to take a break from hormonal contraception or stop using it altogether.
Vaginal discharge is a fact of life. Every woman of menstrual age experiences it. It can be said that vaginal discharge reflects a woman’s health. The colour and quality of the secretions indicate where she is in her menstrual cycle and can be sensitive to even slight changes in diet and routine, hormone imbalance, vaginal pH, and infection.
We live in a society where sex is considered a normal and necessary part of life. This is the result of a decades-long effort to overcome deep-rooted feelings of shame and guilt associated with sexuality. Because sexuality is so intimate and so consequential, it has led to problems in social organization throughout human history. The topic is so burdened with moralizing because it is an obvious subject to address when establishing social norms.
The potentially life-changing reality of an unwanted pregnancy causes real anxiety for most people. One of the last-ditch methods for preventing a pregnancy is emergency contraception, the key word being emergency.
Online dating started for real in the mid-1990s. It’s a fair bet that online romance scamming wasn’t far behind. We all want to connect, but when it comes to your safety and emotional well-being, boundaries and trust must be established before you take the next step. Knowing how to spot a catfish can help you avoid falling prey to this form of emotional abuse as you explore relationships online.
Relationships should provide love, security, and companionship. Everyone needs a few deep and meaningful connections with others as we go through life. However, not all relationships are easy. Romantic relationships can be particularly challenging, especially when they enter the long-term phase. Inequalities, differing love languages, and difficulty in communicating can contribute to dissatisfaction in a relationship. In this article, we will guide you through some of the most common disagreements couples face and how to find common ground.
Expectant women and future fathers often worry if it is safe to have sex during pregnancy and if it won’t hurt the baby. However, pregnancy need not mean sexual abstinence: neither penetration nor orgasmic contraction can harm the child.
Pornography is a popular adult movie genre that generates $90 billion annually in global revenues. Many people enjoy watching adult movies, regardless of their lifestyle and relationship status. Some watch pornography by themselves, while others use it to spice things up in the bedroom. Although adult movies can bring novelty to your sex life, it's important to watch them responsibly and find fair trade sources.
People are social animals, but over the past year and a half, maintaining a social life has become challenging. Now that the Covid-19 restrictions are being lifted, many of us are having mixed feelings about returning to life as we knew it. Especially returning to the dating scene.
Humans are complex social beings. We use certain behaviours and rituals to communicate, compete, and find romantic partners. Flirting is a normal part of our lives as humans. We've learned these patterns from our ancestors to find a pleasing partner. But even after centuries of human evolution, we still become awkward and can be easily confused when we flirt. What are the signs of flirtatiousness, and what can we do to avoid misinterpreting them?
Sex drive—or libido—is a person’s level of eagerness for sexual intimacy. A person’s sex drive is influenced by the psychological, physiological, and social aspects of their life experience, such as age, hormones, family attitudes, lifestyle, past sexual experiences, social pressures, health, and many other factors. Each of us is unique, so it’s not uncommon for people in a relationship to have mismatching libidos.
Intimacy is one of the most complex, fascinating, and rewarding aspects of human connection. We usually talk about physical and emotional intimacy in romantic relationships, but people can share intellectual and spiritual intimacy as well. While the idea of intimacy is simple enough to understand, many different factors can contribute to an intimate bond.
A romantic relationship between two people develops through multiple stages. The beginning is full of passion and the feeling of butterflies in the stomach. After a while, the excitement fades, and the relationship falls into a routine. Lack of sexual desire in a long-term relationship is a common issue, but you can quickly light up your intimate life.
Stress and anxiety are likely to affect your physical and mental health. Often the first symptoms appear in the reproductive system. Prolonged or chronic stress can confuse the body and therefore hormone production, causing irregular periods, difficulty con-ceiving, and even low libido.
It is true that we all have our preferences. Couples often have one or two sexual positions that lead them more easily to the peak of pleasure. Varying the positions may be wise. By doing the same all the time, it loses its flavour. The routine sets in, but sometimes it takes little to change a habit and the two partners have slightly different feelings.
Although the word ‘sexuality’ leads us to think of the sex act, it is much more than just sexual relations and reproduction as a biological function. Sexuality is a holistic concept that includes a person’s physical and psycho-emotional need for love, intimacy, and pleasure; it is a set of behaviours we engage in to get what we need and want, behaviours that follow both written and unwritten laws. Or that we engage in despite them.
Menstruation is a natural part of life yet talking about it can prove difficult due to social stigma and gender stereotypes. Two people in a romantic relationship will come to know each other intimately and your period is a topic that is sure to come up sooner or later.
The frequency of orgasms differs from person to person. Some people climax every time they have sex, others struggle to climax at all. There are multiple reasons why, in the absence of an orgasm, someone might fake it.
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD), affecting millions of people worldwide. A lot of stigma surrounds STDs, making it difficult to seek help when needed. But the reality is that anyone can get herpes.
Sex, like any other meaningful event, requires adequate preparation. Foreplay provides a transitional stage between the suggestion of intimacy and engaging in sex—giving partners time to prepare mentally, emotionally, and physically.