Your maternal figures will tell you: "It cleans itself! Just use a wash cloth and warm water!" A medical professionals will advise you to avoid "perfumed soaps, gels and antiseptics. And yet there are tons of feminine hygiene products on the market promising to help maintain the healthy balance of bacteria and pH levels. Many of them are even gynecologist tested!
"So what's the truth?" *Inset Oprah gif here*
A QUICK VAGINAL PSA...
It's important that we take a moment to dispel the stigma around vaginal related infections. Contrary to uneducated belief, infections like yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis (BV) are not sexually transmitted infections.
Yeast infections (also known as Candida) happen when their is an overgrowth of the healthy yeast that lives in your vagina. BV is a bacterial infection that occurs when the different kinds of healthy bacteria in your vagina get out of balance and grow too much. Although it can be triggered if your partner's natural genital chemistry changes the balance in your vagina and causes bacteria to grow, it can occur even if you have never had sex.
So if you feel any shame about the sensitivity of your lady parts just remember that 3 in 4 women will experience at least two episodes of yeast infection in their lifetime and BV is common among women ages 14-55.
ARE THEY SAFE TO USE?
The simple answer is, Yes. While they aren't a necessity they are okay to use. But before you run out and stock up you should ask yourself two very important questions: How sensitive is your vagina? How reliable/clean are the products?
While some women can use just about any product and experience no issues, others are easily prone to irritation. If your pH levels are easily disturbed and you suffer from vulva (inner and outer lips) irritation or frequent vaginal infections you should seek products made for sensitive skin or avoid them all together.
If warm water and a mild soap just aren't cutting you should opt for natural washes and avoid ingredients such as fragrance, parabens, alcohol, and glycerin, as those ingredients can cause vaginal or vulvar dryness and disrupt the natural pH of the vagina. Foaming washes are great option, as they are gentler on your skin. Some great options are the Love Wellness pH Balancing Cleanser and The all-natural, plant-based daily feminine washes from Honeypot Company.
Remember that the purpose of these washes are to cleanse the vulva, not the inside of the vagina. If you are worried about an irregular vaginal odor or discharge you should speak with your doctor to look into the cause.