“Clean your ears with an earbud” “brush your teeth two times a day”.
Since childhood, we get lessons on body upkeep and hygiene. Unfortunately the stigma and shame around sex and by extension, around genitals, means that intimate care . The result is that a lot of us are pretty clueless when it comes to our ‘private parts’! This cluelessness is particularly exacerbated (and on multiple occasions exploited) when you’re a vulva owner in a patriarchal society with industries and markets preying on your insecurities.
Figuring out which “feminine hygiene” (really, it should be called vulva/vaginal hygiene!) advice or product is genuine and which one’s just another hoax can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Well, we did the grunt work so you don’t have to and put together a list of intimate care tips. In the next section you can read about our curated list of intimate care washes.
Intimate care dos and don’ts/ Tips and tricks
Cleaning: the vagina is self-cleaning in nature, which means you don’t have to do much. For those who don’t know, the vulva is the external part of your genitalia which includes the inner and outer labia, clitoris and the vulva vestibule. It is a part of your body and needs basic hygiene like you would for the other parts. Simply rinsing with water should be enough but if you do want to use soap make sure it’s a mild one.
Wipe after peeing: yes, pooping is not the only time you need toilet paper! Not wiping your vulva after peeing can cause the underwear to get with urine droplets, which can not only lead to funky odor but also increase the risk of vaginal infections. Take it from somebody who has been victim far too often- you do not want that. Hence, it’s best to wipe the vulva using toilet paper or a cloth to ensure that your panties are always dry.
Wipe front to back: a rookie mistake that a lot of people make while wiping down there is that they wipe back to front. This can contaminate your urethra with fecal bacteria from your anus possibly leading to a Urinary Tract Infection. Again, no matter how weird it may feel, it just is not worth the trouble. Wiping front to back helps make sure the fecal bacteria stays away from your urethra.
Pee after sex: Sexual activity can expose your vagina to bacteria. Peeing immediately after sex is a great practice that you should incorporate very seriously in your intercourse regime. You can also rinse the vulva with water once while at it.
Drink lots of water: Staying hydrated has a number of health benefits (hello to glowing skin) and vaginal health is one of them! A lack of proper hydration can lead to dryness in the vagina. Not only can it be very uncomfortable and lead to itchiness but it could lead to long-term impacts such as bacterial vaginosis.
Wear cotton panties: Repeat with us- Cotton = sexy. You are only as sexy as your jayjay. Not only does cotton let your vagina breathe which can go a long way in preventing yeast infections but it’s also relatively more absorbent than other materials which is perfect because it’s normal for the vagina to have moisture and vaginal discharge. Synthetic underwear like nylon and spandex are not very breathable. Trapped heat and moisture creates a perfect breeding ground for yeast infections.
Clean sex toys: It may seem like a no brainer that anything you put on or inside your body should be clean, right? Many people neglect cleaning their sex toys once they’re done. And honestly we understand the urge to take a strong nap after a good time with your vibrator but unclean sex toys can cause vaginal infections and UTIs. (Here’s a guide on how to clean your sex toys properly).
Don’t share sex toys: Remember when your kindergarten teacher taught you to share your toys? Well, not these toys! Sharing your toys with your partner or your friend is not a great idea as it can lead to transfer of infections and increase the risk of UTIs. In case you do share sex toys make sure to clean them thoroughly after every use.
Healthy diet: the easiest way to promote vaginal health has nothing directly to do with the vagina at all! A healthy diet may sound like basic advice but a good diet is majorly responsible for maintaining your vaginal health. If you think something’s off down there, a diet rich in leafy greens, probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids and fruits like apples and cranberries might help balance your pH level. Cranberries can actually even help beat a nasty UTI!
Don’t use scented soaps or perfumes: You would have seen all kinds of products that offer to make your vagina smell like everything from peaches to pineapples.
Commercial brands at the helm of capitalism will make you believe that your vagina should smell like flowers. it’s just a marketing gimmick and at Manzuri, we don’t do that. Unless there’s something seriously off in which case there’d be a foul odor, your vagina is supposed to smell a little acidic.
Don’t douche: Vaginal douching is rinsing the vagina with water or a mixture of fluids or a scented liquid solution. A douche has a tube or nozzle to squirt liquid upward into your vagina. The water mixture then comes back out through your vagina. Many people think douching prevents vaginal odor and “freshens up” the vagina. Some retail shop douches even claim they can help prevent infection, STIs and pregnancies! There has been no evidence to support these claims.
Douching can change the pH balance of the vagina which is naturally acidic. Douching also causes an overgrowth of harmful bacteria and has been associated with pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical cancer, and sexually transmitted diseases. A recent study found a direct link between douching and bacterial vaginosis. The same goes for ‘vaginal steaming’. Just don’t do it! Remember, your vagina is self reliant just like you!
Safe sex: Having unprotected sex can lead to STIs like chlamydia, warts, gonorrhoea, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), herpes and syphilis. Using a condom is the only way to prevent STIs and an unwanted pregnancy at the same time.
Top intimate washes
Another thing that’s quite popular when it comes to intimate hygiene products are intimate washes. If you think regular rinsing with water isn’t doing the trick for your vulval cleaning, you can try intimate washes. Using regular soap on the vulva can cause irritation and dryness. Intimate washes are designed specifically for the sensitive vulval skin. Knowing which intimate washes to use can be tricky as there are many chemical heavy washes in the market that can cause just as much harm as regular soap. At Manzuri, we care about your vaginal health and you. Hence we have curated a list of the gentlest of intimate care washes.
Vwash: VWash is a well trusted product within our small community of Indian vulva owners at Manzuri (@get_cliterate). If you face vaginal discomfort the likely culprit is an out-of-balance pH level. VWash contains a unique pH balancing formula of lactic acid that can help relieve itchiness and funky odour.
Namyaa haldi chandan: This wash is made for sensitive skin types which can be allergic to chemicals like parabens. It has a touch of traditional Indian ingredients like haldi and chandan and a touch of ingredients like extracts of green tea leaf and fresh cucumber.
Galsome intimate wash: This wash is the closest you can get to a vulval moisturizer. It has aloe vera extracts to prevent itchiness and Silver & Peony Flower Extracts to repel foul odor. It’s super gentle, so even if some of it gets into the insides of your vagina you don’t have to worry much.
Keepsafe by Marico: enjoy period sex? That’s great, it can help relieve pain! But what do you do to take care of your vaginal hygiene after? It’s high time that we stopped ignoring intimate hygiene during periods. Keepsafe intimate wash can be used during both periods and pregnancy. Using it after sex or masturbation can help prevent any nasty UTIs. Using soap as a replacement for an intimate wash can imbalance your vagina’s pH level and result in itchiness and vaginal infections. KeepSafe Intimate Wash contains a lactic acid formula that balances pH at 3.5 which is the ideal pH for a healthy vagina. Nasty UTIs can cause itchiness and dryness, which isn’t just uncomfortable but can also cause discomfort during sex. The aloe and tea tree oil extracts of this wash comes handy in these instances.
Sanfe natural intimate wash: This is an all natural intimate wash and is free of all the harsh chemicals you might associate with products like intimate washes. Say goodbye to chafing and uncomfortable skin irritation with this gentle wash that contains tea tree oil and witch hazel to help provide protection against infections.
Menstrual care products you can buy online
A planet-friendly alternative to tampons and pads, a menstrual cup is a funnel-shaped cup made of medical-grade silicone or rubber that can be inserted inside the vagina, where it collects menstrual blood. The cup can be worn for up to 12 hours, depending on a person’s flow. They are easily washable, last for months and help prevent the rashes you get from pads.
Sanfe reusable menstrual cup: If you haven’t switched to a menstrual cup already what are you waiting for? With the climate crisis at an all time high, it’s important to invest in products that cause the least amount of damage to the environment. Sanfe menstrual cups are designed to hold more blood than any other conventional alternatives. Designed for long-term use, they can be reused for up to 10 years.
Sirona Reusable Menstrual Cup for Women: Here’s another reusable menstrual cup for your consideration! The Sirona cup is made of medical grade silicone and can be reused for up to 10 years. They’re available in up to 3 sizes and is made of body safe material that prevents skin irritation
If you want to explore your options when it comes to menstrual care products check out our guide here. Lastly, if you notice any enduring abnormal changes in your vaginal discharge like a greenish or greyish colour or a funky smell you should reach out to a gynecologist.