To wash or not to wash? …that seems to be the question on every modern gals mind. Well, that and which Netflix series to binge next… but we digress! It seems that a lot of ladies are unsure as to whether they should be cleaning their #BabeBits and, if so, how? In our endless mission to answer your most intimate queries we’ve set aside some time to deliver the freshest facts.
BUT FIRST, ANATOMY!
“The vagina is self-cleaning” is one phrase we hear a lot. As with most things um… vaginal, this is true but largely misunderstood. So, let us begin with a little lesson in anatomy. The vagina is in fact self-cleaning thanks to its incredible microbiome and carefully balanced acidity (read more on that here). Another, lesser known, fact is that the vagina is an entirely internal organ.
What you see in the mirror is not your vagina but rather your vulva. This group of external genital organs includes the labia majora, labia minora, clitoris, and vestibule (AKA entrance) of the vagina. While “vagina” may be used colloquially to refer to the whole shebang, it is specifically the canal that joins the vulva to your uterus. Now, a delightful diagram by Duvet Days for your viewing pleasure:
DO NOT ENTER
Rule number one of feminine hygiene: stay out! That’s right ladies, unless you’re a medical professional with a good reason, never attempt any internal cleansing. This one may disappoint our GOOPies but that means absolutely no douching or yoni streaming… Forgive us, Gwyneth! The internal ecosystem of your vagina is perfectly capable of keeping itself in check, without your intervention. Foreign bodies, of all shapes and sizes, can offset this natural harmony and lead to discomfort and infection. It’s best to seek a professional diagnosis and treatment from a doctor or qualified practitioner. Rather don’t play around here.
The vulva however may require cleansing for a number of reasons. But please, external only! This may seem like a limited option but it’s really all you need to manage your daily hygiene. If you feel that greater intervention is needed, then it’s perhaps time to chat to your doctor. Let’s take a look at some everyday situations that may require a little intimate wash:
Moisture and warmth are key factors to bacterial growth. While we’re familiar with this in the case of our underarms, the same is true for our crotch area. These nooks and crannies are a great environment for bacteria to flourish, resulting in natural fragrances that may, at times, become unpleasant.
Some may argue that we were born to be naked. While that stands to reason, we're personally not yet ready to give up our wardrobes. This defiance does however come with some consequences. Clothing, especially when tight fitting, will help to create that moist and warm environment we’ve spoken so much about.
Worse yet are synthetic fabrics! While natural materials will give our body some opportunity to breathe, synthetic materials keep it all trapped in. From heat and sweat to dead skin and ah… flatulence. Rather out than in is a principle we’re all better off living by.
By now you know the drill. It’s moist. It’s warm. It’s a tropical holiday for bad bacteria. While a little aroma can be expected, watch out for anything professionals may term “offensive”. Blood will naturally raise the average pH of your vagina AKA prime time for contracting an infection.
You’re absolutely entitled to wear your drapes as you like. You may just want to bear in mind that pubic hair generally tends to protect the skin again contact with harmful bacteria. Silky smooth bits on the other hand are more susceptible to picking up unwelcome microbes.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, applying perfume to smelly bits will only worsen the stench. Chemical fragrances irritate the skin which causes bacteria to flourish at an increased rate.
Fun fact: stress sweat smells different! Due to the particular blend of hormones that accompany anxiety, the sweat emitted due to stress is particularly more pungent than sweat caused by heat or exertion.
Eating a whole tub of ice cream may look totes cute in the movies but in reality, less so. Consuming too much sugar is just one more way to encourage yeast and bacteria overgrowth. We’re in no way suggesting you skip the treats! Just be mindful that too much can take a toll.
We’ve mentioned external only, but this is understandably hard to avoid when it comes to sex. Our wild libidos lead us to inserting all manner of things in hard to reach places, putting our vaginal well-being at risk. We’re not trying to deter you, you go gal! Just be mindful of the implication and be sure to take the necessary care once you’re done traversing the innermost reaches of the physical form.
Be it bathtub, pool or sea, swimming is simply not vag-friendly. Sucks, right? Fact is, marinating your body in water will make you susceptible to infections especially when chemicals like chlorine, or those found in bubble bath, are present. This may lead to bacterial overgrowth and therefore, odour.
While we all love an endorphin, working-out subjects your precious vulva to the ultimate odour trifactor: sweat, tight (synthetic) clothing and a whole lotta friction. If you’ve ever walked in on a hot yoga class… Ya know what I’m talking about! It’s not unreasonable that your #BabeBits get a little musky after all this action.
WHEN IN DOUBT
If you experience prolonged itching, redness, unusual discharge and odour, speak to your fav healthcare professional. These symptoms may be a sign of an infection, STD or Bacterial Vaginosis. Nothing to worry about, when managed properly.
All is not lost! Yes, there is clearly plenty opportunity to develop unwanted odour but the good news is that a few helpful habits can go a long way in prevention. You’ve heard it before so it’s doubtful that vaginal odour will be the motivation to convince you but please… hydrate! As long as your body is functioning as it should, you’ll likely avoid a whole lot of risk factors. Next, try stick to cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothing as far as possible. Leave the skintight jeans for date nights in your early twenties, if you must. Best advice of all… sleep naked! While this will have many benefits to your overall well-being, your #BabeBits will be most grateful of all. And when all else fails, apply a little Intimate Wash to your precious spots.
If you feel that a little external freshening up may be for you then there are a couple things to look out for when choosing an Intimate Wash. Firstly, be sure to avoid any chemical or synthetic ingredients including perfumes, colourants and harsh soaps. These will irritate and dehydrate the skin, ultimately making whatever concerns you worse.
OSKE’s Fleur Intimate Wash has instead been created with the female physiology in mind. We’ve used only natural and hypoallergenic ingredients which are gentle on the skin. Our soaping component, Decyl Glucoside, is a coconut extract known to effectively cleanse without the harsh effect of chemical soaps. We’re used Apple Fruit Extract to match the preferred pH-level of the vulva and Marshmallow Root Extract to protect and moisturise the skin. Instead of perfumes, Fleur Intimate Wash contains Lavender and Rose Oil which happen to smell great but, more importantly, provide a plethora of healing properties. Other than containing only high-quality ingredients and working effectively, Fleur also happens to be vegan and cruelty-free. As it should be!
If you made it this far then let this be your takeaway: you’re perfect just the way you are. Whether we’re talking about your vulva or vagina, know for sure that it’s so much more than pretty. It’s highly functional, occasionally life baring and often messy. It doesn’t need to look, smell or taste (yup!) like rainbows and butterflies. Respect it in all its natural beauty, and others will to.