It's complicated being a female.
Between unfamiliar odors, extra moisture, and whatever else may be happening down there, women are sensitive about their lady bits.
With that being said, when it comes time for a shower, I lather, I scrub, and I make sure to hit every crevice (#NoLabiaLeftBehind).
Too much info? Eh, get over it. Hygiene is important guys, and I'll be damned if I'm not supposed to talk about it.
The point is, every woman cleans her vagina, but pretty much no one actually talks about it.
Perhaps it's time to start, because for all you know, you and I are both doing the damn thing all wrong.
You Might Be Over-Washing
In case you didn't already know, the vagina is self-cleaning.
But, if you're anything like me, the knowledge of that fact doesn't seem to stop you from dropping that soap into that wash cloth and going to work.
But the thing is, when you do that, you're actually disrupting your normal, vaginal pH level.
Your vagina is acidic, with a pH level between 3.5 and 4.5. Disrupting that pH level can result in unpleasant odors and infections, like yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis.
So, while you're trying to scrub away an odor, you may just be exacerbating the issue.
If you're really stubborn on this, Elite Daily spoke with Planned Parenthood nurse practitioner Glory Guerrero, who explains exactly what you need to do:
For women who prefer to use soap, we always recommend non-scented soaps like Dove, Ivory, or Cetaphil, because scented products can alter the pH in our vagina. We also recommend you clean the outside of your vagina and never the inside.
But How Can Only Water Do the Job?
The simple answer: because it's self-cleaning.
Your body is like a well-oiled machine. You just need to let it do its thing.
Every woman is different. Some women are more prone to infections. There are women who just use water, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Water is actually a very good cleanser. Some patients feel they need to use soap so we recommend non-scented products.
But What If You Really Have a Foul Odor Down There?
In no case should you ever turn to douching, Guerrero advises, even if it seems like the quickest fix.
It doesn't help at all. Visit your nearest Planned Parenthood or health center to be seen by a clinician and treated with antibiotics. After a few days of treatment, it will go away.
Also, you should only be worried about odor “if it deviates from your 'normal',” Guerrero says. “Especially if there is a strong odor, itching, or discharge. Anything that has a 'fishy' odor tends to be a sign of infection.”
Notice that nowhere did Guerrero mention soap. Soap abstinence is the common thread here.
All In All, There Are Plenty Of Ways To Make Sure You Feel Clean Throughout The Day
Some women, Guerrero says, actually carry extra pairs of underwear with them wherever they go during the day.
If panties on panties on panties is not your thing, she also suggests,
Other women use non-scented feminine wipes throughout their [work] shift. We do not encourage women to use panty liners because those can cause more bacteria. For women who experience an excessive amount of discharge, it's important to get evaluated by a clinician to see if this is a sign of infection, or normal for your body. Mostly you need to have good hygiene, avoid tight clothing around the vagina, and cotton underwear is your friend!
Ladies, please stay away from the soap.
As you can see, you aren't unsanitary if you don't use it.
Trust that your body is working to the best of its ability. Treat it well, and it will treat you well.
Your vagina is the belle of the ball. Let her shine within her own right, dammit.