In taking care of our lady parts, some of us were taught to wash thoroughly -- something that normally involved a lot of hard and rough rubbing, using soap. We were also taught to always lock our holier-than-holies away in underwear, day or night. Cos why should our vaginas be allowed to breathe?
Little did we know that the opposite is being recommended...
We've rounded up seven tips for keeping one of the most sensitive parts of our bodies healthier and happier -- and it bears little resemblance to what many of us were taught:
1. Go commando, or use cotton underwear
Your vagina should breathe, so using the right underwear allows air around it. Synthetic fabrics, on the other hand, normally do not allow the skin to breathe. The resulting humidity and dampness can be a breeding ground for infection. It is recommended that, where possible, women sleep without underwear.
2. Ease up on the douching
Don't use mixtures to wash or clean the inside of your vagina. Some of the douches contain substances that might put you at risk of infection. The vagina cleans itself, believe it or not, in the form of vaginal discharge. It also has a unique, natural scent. A strong odour, however, can be a sign of infection and if this is the case, it's best to contact a healthcare professional.
3. Take care with the soap
Soap is highly alkaline and can be abrasive on the sensitive skin around your vulva (the area around the entrance to the vagina). Scented soap can also dry that skin. But if you're not too comfortable with going soap-free, plain and unscented soap is recommended. Also, be gentle when drying -- a soft pat will do instead of a rough rub.
4. The food you eat
Eat healthy food. Go big on that Greek yoghurt as it helps boost good bacteria, which in turn help with vaginal problems such as yeast infections, unlike sugar. Cranberry juice also comes highly recommended in fighting urinary tract infections.
5. Change your sanitary wear constantly
Panty liners, pads and tampons are not intended to be used for long periods. They can prevent your skin from breathing, resulting in irritations and possible infections, especially because menstrual blood stays so close in contact with the skin. It is advisable to change every three to four hours, regardless of whether it's soaked or not.
6. Be weary of hair-removal creams
Trimming, waxing or shaving is also good for hygiene because pubic hair can be a breeding ground for moisture. Yet, hair-removal creams, which normally contain chemicals, can be harsh on sensitive skin.
7. Some exercise is recommended
Health experts advise that women do Kegel exercises to strengthen their pelvic-floor muscles. This is important for bladder control, but they also say it helps with stronger orgasms.