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How to wash your vagina and vulva?

by Ariane Fortin 0 Comments

Myths About the Vulva and Vagina

Here’s a couple of things you probably were made to believe, heard or encountered if you are a woman and/or vagina owner…

  • Your vagina should smell like a flower
  • You should shave/wax your pubic hair and around your vulva to be more hygienic and clean
  • You need a special soap or gel to ‘’properly’’ clean your genitals
  • You need to steam your vagina for it to have a balanced pH
  • There shouldn’t be anything leaking down there

These are all false assumptions a lot of people have about the vagina, but they are still used by many companies… These kinds of phrases are usually marketing techniques used to make you feel bad about your body and lure you into purchasing their products.

For example, vaginal steaming was made very popular in the last few years because of certain celebrities, but it is better to stay away from this practice. Mostly because the vagina is usually at your body’s temperature, so making it warmer (through steaming) could create a breeding environment for yeast and unwanted bacterias!

*If you believe something is medically not right with your genitals, make sure to consult a medical health professional.

Here are more marketing terms that are used when it comes to vaginal hygiene that you should be skeptical of:

  • Feminine Soap (there is no need to gender soap - thank you very much!)
  • pH Balanced (honestly any kind of soap, fragrance or gel claiming that it will balance your vagina’s pH level is simply trying to lure you into buying their soap. Your vagina’s pH is most likely fine on its own.)
  • 100% Natural (again - even if the ingredients are natural/organic, you do not need them around your vulva, vagina and vaginal canal)

How to Wash your Vulva and Vagina

First things first, let differentiate the vulva and the vagina, because they do not need the same care. A lot of people actually use the word vagina to describe both portions of the female genitals, but that is incorrect. 

Vulva

The vulva is the external portion of the female genitals. This includes the outer and inner lips (labia majora and labia minora), the outer lips have hair and are larger compared to the inner lips who are smaller and hairless. The vulva is also composed of the vagina’s and urethra’s opening and of the clitoris. 

Vulva Anatomy by Désirables

👀 Check out All Vulvas are Beautiful website to see a wide variety of vulvas! (Made by the folks at Netflix's Sex Education and Vulva Gallery)

Vagina

The vagina is the internal portion of the female genitals, so it's basically what connects the vulva to the cervix. It is a muscular canal lined with mucus membranes and nerves.

Vulva and clitoris anatomy diagram by Désirables

How to wash the vulva?

 💧 The vulva truly ONLY needs lukewarm water. You should preferably use your hand (a washcloth or loofah might be too rough) and make sure to clean from front to back.

 You can also use your fingers to gently clean the folds of your inner and outer labia and delicately pull back the clitoral hood (skin over the clitoris) to rinse this area. Generally you can wash your vulva simply once per day. Make sure to remove any soapy water or shampoo that might have runned down there while you were showering. 

How to wash the vagina?

Great news! The vagina is actually self-cleaning, so you don’t need to do anything when it comes to it. No need to steam, douche or clean it with any kind of products, because this might actually disrupt your vaginal pH and open the door to unwelcomed bacterias or infections. 

 ☝️ If you feel like you have a lot of vaginal discharge you can use a finger to do a little swoosh inside to remove the excess mucus. But make sure your finger is soap free!

💡 Did you know: the vagina is actually slightly acidic (around 4-5 on the pH Level chart - where 7 is neutral) and soap is usually more on the alkaline side (around 9). So using soap will most likely literally disrupt your pH balance! 

Fun Fact: the pH level of Coca Cola is pretty similar to the vagina’s pH and there used to be an urban myth that suggested using Coke to douche and kill sperm!

Extra Tips to Take Care of your Vulva and Vagina

❤️ Wear loose clothing (or not too tight)

❤️ Don’t wear underwear at night and wear loose pyjama bottoms instead (or sleep in the nude)

❤️ Prioritize cotton underwear to synthetic ones, because they breathe better

❤️ Always wipe from front to back after peeing

❤️ Always pee after sex

Masturbation is another great way of treating your vulva and vagina, check out our Masturbation 101 Guide for tips and tricks!

A Quick Word on Pubic Hair

Pubic hair, like pretty much any body hair on a woman (or woman identifying person) is very negatively perceived. So here is a little word about your hair down there. But remember, whether you want to keep it or not should entirely be YOUR choice!

✨ Pubic hair (pretty much like every other body hair) is often considered unhygienic, but that’s completely untrue! Our bodies are the results of thousands and thousands of years of evolution, so if we have pubic hair, there’s a reason for it! Pubic hair actually helps the vagina stay clear from harmful bacterias, it also reduces friction during sexual intercourse and maintains the best temperature for your vulva and vagina.

✨ Sometimes people who let their pubic hair grow are considered lazy, but there are many ways in which you can take care of yourself without ripping it all off (cutting, trimming, shaving, etc.)

✨ Pubic hair is often considered unattractive, but that’s a completely subjective view mostly portayed and perpetuaded in cis porn. Plus the idea that a woman should be hairless (which generally evocates being young, innocent, sexy, etc.) is a very patriarchal view of the world in our opinion.

 

❤️ If you are interested in keeping your body hair, there are various movements encouraging people to do so! In Quebec we have MaiPoils, make sure to check out their initiative to normalize body hair. 

 Sources:

 https://www.instagram.com/camilleparlesexe/
https://www.instagram.com/vaginarehabdoctor/
https://www.instagram.com/lovemomotaro/
https://www.instagram.com/jillkrapfmd/
https://www.instagram.com/radicallove.co.uk/
https://cycle.care/nl/hoe-reinig-je-je-vagina-en-hoe-vooral-ook-niet-cycle-zet-alle-tips-op-een
https://www.ajog.org/article/S0002-9378(15)32200-6/fulltext#secSET005
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4171909/
https://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/vagina
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/why-do-we-have-pubic-hair

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