Vaginal Health and Hygiene – how clean is too clean?
Your vagina is a pretty amazing thing. It supports a whole eco system of tiny micro-organisms, existing in perfect balance.
When your vagina is healthy, it maintains itself and there really isn’t any need to start using a douche to push water and even detergents in there. As part of your daily cleaning routine, washing once a day around the vulva, which is the skin around the opening, is fine. In fact starting to try and clean inside your vagina can upset this eco system and cause problems or make existing problems worse.
One of the many different things defending your eco-system down below is a kind of good bacteria called Lactobacillus. You could say it’s the gatekeeper of your vaginal health, it produces lactic acid, hydrodgen peroxide and bacteriocins which may sound terrifying but in fact these products protect your vagina from harmful bacteria that could cause an infection. If the level of Lactobacillus in your vagina is lower than usual, then you often start to experience symptoms of an infection such as Bacterial Vaginosis (BV).
Your vagina should always be slightly acidic and the lactic acid produced by the ‘gatekeeper’ bacteria, Lactobacillus, does this job perfectly. If this balance is upset and you have fewer of these bacteria present in your vagina, then things can get out of balance and you’re more likely to experience an infection.
Here are some tips on what you can do to help keep your vaginal eco system in balance:
- Don’t douche! There is no need to clean inside your vagina and doing so can cause problems.
- Avoid strong perfumed soaps or oils when bathing, and never put antiseptic solutions in the bath.
- Avoid strong detergents when washing your underwear.
- Don’t take super-hot baths – you don’t want to damage the micro-organisms that are keeping things in balance.
- If you have sex with a male partner, use a condom or pee immediately after sex, as semen is alkaline and can upset the natural acidic pH of the vagina.
- If you experience any symptoms of BV, which include a fishy odour, and / or a watery, thin or greyish discharge, try using a gel or pessary such as Balance Activ which helps to fight BV and encourages the regrowth of lactobacillus to rebalance your vaginal eco system.