There’s a huge market for feminine hygiene, but you don’t have to use any special products to clean your vulva and vagina, according to an expert.
dr Shirin Lakhani, founder of Elite Aesthetics in London, explains that vaginas are self-cleaning, so you don’t need to use anything else to help the cleaning process.
In fact, she says, because they’re sensitive, over-cleansing with scented products or conditioners can upset their delicate balance.
This can lead to health problems, including infections, and affect your sex life.
There is a huge market for feminine hygiene, but you don’t need it. Women’s intimate health expert, Dr. Shirin Lakhani reveals vaginas are self-cleaning
dr Shirin Lakhani says: “Our vaginas are sensitive areas. I would recommend washing with water once a day and avoiding perfumes, dyes, preservatives and harsh chemicals.’
Here, FEMAIL shares seven top tips about what you should and shouldn’t do…
1. AVOID SPRAYS AND DOUCHES
There is little scientific evidence that douching makes the vagina cleaner.
Many products contain fragrances, which can potentially irritate the vagina and cause inflammation, itching, and pain.
Douching can also upset the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina, making it more susceptible to infection.
dr Lakhani explains, “As pH levels rise and become less acidic, the vagina can be more susceptible to infections, including bacterial vaginosis or thrush.”
If a person already has a yeast infection or other bacterial vaginal infection, trying to flush the area with a douche can actually push the bacteria further up into the cervix and make the infection worse.
2. DO NOT EXPLAIN YOURSELF WITH SYMPTOMS
dr Lakhani says: “We are now at an age where we do not have to put up with symptoms.
“Women shouldn’t be embarrassed to say they want sexual pleasure and a safe, non-surgical treatment for incontinence or atrophy that can be absolutely life-changing.”
She explains that if you have sore skin around your vulva, the best way to use saline is to add two teaspoons of salt to a liter of water and apply it to a cotton ball.
“Don’t be ashamed to go to a GP – we’ve seen it all before and want to help and open conversations about intimate health.”
3. AVOID PERFUMED PRODUCTS
There are various hot spots on your body where applying perfume can increase durability, but the vagina is not one of them.
“I think one of the worst things we can do to our vagina that is widely believed to be helpful is using scented products to cleanse it,” explains Dr. Lakhani.
“They are an irritant and not necessary at all.”
The vagina has a natural smell, which does not mean that it is unclean, but natural.
4. IF SOMETHING IS IRRITATING YOUR VULVA, YOU COULD BE ALLERGIC TO IT
It is estimated that half of all women over the age of 24 experience at least one episode of vulvovaginitis symptoms.
Symptoms may include a change in color, smell, or amount of vaginal discharge, vaginal itching or irritation, and pain during sex.
dr Lakhani says, “It could be due to allergies, as it’s actually quite common to be allergic to toilet paper, lube, latex condoms, antiseptics and even semen.”
She advises getting allergy tested by your GP, who can advise you on the best way to proceed.
There are usually alternative products that are made without the irritant that is causing your discomfort.
5. DON’T DECLARE YOURSELF WITH LEAKS
It is estimated that urinary incontinence affects one in three women in the UK.
This can wreak havoc on women’s confidence and self-esteem.
dr Lakhani says: “From the many patients I see weekly, I know how common this condition is in women, especially after childbirth.
“But women don’t have to put up with that, and there are many treatments.”
As an example, she cites the non-surgical BTL Emsella Chair treatment, which promises the equivalent of 11,400 Kegel exercises per 30-minute session.
dr Lakhani advises seeing your GP if urinary incontinence is interfering with your daily activities, as simple lifestyle changes or medical treatment can relieve symptoms or stop the problem.
6. TREAT DRYNESS – BUT AVOID MOISTURIZING
Vaginal dryness can have many causes, from menopause to restlessness and diabetes.
You should avoid using moisturizers when they are perfumed as they can cause more irritation.
The NHS recommends using unscented soaps and detergents around the vagina and specific vaginal moisturizers. Foreplay before sex can also help.
dr Lakhani also refers to platelet-rich plasma (PRP), which is where your platelets are separated from the blood and then injected back into the body.
“The treatment is nicknamed the ‘O-Shot’ because it is said to improve sensitivity and the ability to have an orgasm.”
She explains: “PRP tricks the body into thinking it has been injured, releasing stem cells that regenerate tissues.
“We’re finding that it can help with everything from the skin condition lichen sclerosus to stress incontinence and sexual dysfunction like the inability to climax.”
7. TREAT INGROWTH HAIRS AND SHAVE RASHES
Ingrown hairs cause red, often itchy, bumps where a hair has grown back into the skin.
They are often caused by wax and can be very uncomfortable.
dr Lakhani says, “The best thing you can do is stop removing hair in that area until the ingrown hair is gone.”
She recommends applying a warm compress to the area and, if the hair comes out, gently tugging at it with sterile tweezers.
“Don’t pull the hair out completely,” she warns, “until the area has healed, as the skin over the skin will heal again.”
“Try not to break the skin as this could cause infection.”
Shaving can also cause irritation in the form of rashes that manifest as red bumps, burning and intense itching.
Treatments for razor bumps include warm baths to open pores and reduce swelling. Cold compresses can also be soothing, as can wearing loose, cotton clothing to avoid irritation to the affected area.