The term “feminine hygiene” is facing scrutiny from gender activists, but the idea of cleaning your personal bits is actually a very important one. The more appropriate name for feminine hygiene would be “vulvar/vaginal hygiene” as these are the two components of the genitals that we’re talking about. While the subject of genital health may feel taboo, it is incredibly important to understand how to keep your own body healthy by keeping it clean.
Here’s a little bit of an anatomy lesson for anyone that needs a refresher (or is learning this for the first time — yikes). Like we mentioned above, there are two parts to the genitals in the vulvar/vaginal system that actually require different methods of cleaning for optimal health:
- Vulvar: the external part of the genitals, including pubic mount, inner and outer labia folds, clitoris, and vestibule
- Vaginal: the internal part of the genitals, a.k.a. the place where you insert tampons, dildos, and where a penis penetrates during sex
Keep reading for some ways to promote vulvar/vaginal health!
How to keep your vagina clean with a healthy diet
A diet high in processed foods and sugar, and low in micronutrients can cause an imbalance in the vaginal microbiome. This is why it is important to eat a diet rich in:
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin C
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
This list might sound familiar, because many of these nutrients are also important to promote a healthy gut micriobiome.
Reducing processed foods, or foods loaded with sugar can also help to maintain a healthy vaginal microbiome, as sugar and processed foods feed yeast, which is a common cause of infection in the vagina.
There actually isn’t much we need to do to clean our bits (the body is amazingly self-sufficient after all); however, it’s important to understand the environment our vagina and vulva prefer most, so that they will thrive. The vagina is self-cleaning, as evidenced by the non odorous discharge you may notice in your underwear. When in the shower, using a fragrance-free soap to clean the vulva (which is basically just skin, remember) can provide all the hygiene you need.
When going to the bathroom, you should actually wipe both areas (anus and vulva) separately. Wipe your vulva first, then use another bit of toilet paper to wipe your anus. This can help avoid cross contamination, and prevent urinary tract infection. And always wipe front to back!
After Sex, always pee! Peeing can clean out any bacteria, also preventing urinary tract infection. No internal washing or scrubbing needed.
Hygiene can also refer to how we groom our bits. There are some general best practices when it comes to grooming that can help continue to promote vaginal/vulvar hygiene. Always use a fresh razor when you can. If that doesn’t work for your wallet, use a separate razor for your ‘bits’ and the rest of your body. Keep the vaginal razor stored, covered, clean and dry (instead of in the shower to avoid rust forming on the blade).
Personal responsibility for personal hygiene
Ultimately, it all comes down to personal responsibility. Eating a nutrient-rich diet, low in processed foods and sugar, cleaning your bits appropriately, and grooming responsibly are all ways to promote personal genital hygiene. If you are doing these things, then you’re setting your system up well to take care of itself, with minimal intervention needed.