What stuff is okay to use down there
We live in a world filled with “stuff”. Practically every day you hear of a new product that will change your life by providing you with X,Y,Z……..It can be hard to separate out what stuff you “need” from what you “want”, and what you’re better off without.
As a gynecologist, “stuff” for the vulva (the skin “down there”) has always been a topic that is of particular professional interest to me. The skin of the vulva is for many people the most sensitive skin on the body, even if you do not consider yourself as someone who has particularly sensitive skin. The vagina has a self-cleaning mechanism that, in general, is very good at doing its job. The take home is, LESS IS BETTER. You won’t generally go wrong by avoiding “stuff”. Now, if you’re walking around using all sorts of fun products and aren’t bothered at all, great. But if you’re feeling a bit irritated, consider these points…..
- Avoid colored or perfumed toilet tissue, including flushable adult or baby wet wipes.
- Avoid bubble bath, or any product added to a bath to enhance scent or texture of bath water.
- Avoid feminine hygiene sprays and douches. You do not need them!!!!!
- Change out of wet clothing, especially wet bathing suits or exercise clothing, as soon as possible.
- Cleanse the area after urinating or having a bowel movement by wiping or washing from front to back (vagina to anus).
- Use plain, white, unscented bars of soap. Avoid those fun bath gels from the cute shops in the mall!! They can be irritating…..
- Wear (preferably white) cotton panties or pantyhose with a cotton crotch. Avoid panties made from synthetic materials. Cotton allows air in and moisture out.
- Consider what you are using to wash the clothing that comes into contact with the vulva (think underwear, pantyhose, exercise clothes, etc.). Use detergents free of dyes/perfumes (such as All Free and Clear), avoid using fabric softeners.
- Avoid deodorized pads and tampons. Minimize use of hygiene products for only when you truly “need” them.
- Shaving can irritate. If you feel you “must” shave, do NOT use a shave gel. Just use water and your plain, unscented soap (if you must use anything at all).
- Avoid all over the counter creams or ointments, except Aquaphor or A&D Ointment, either of which can be applied for dryness or irritation as needed.
- If you feel you need a lubricant during intercourse, these products can sometimes be a significant source of irritation. The best product to use is actually vegetable oil such as Crisco (liquid or solid). If you put it in a different bottle it won’t seem so bizarre!!!!
- General health considerations to minimize irritation: Lose weight if you are overweight. Keep your blood sugar under good control if you have diabetes.
Here’s to good vulvar health!