Pelvic Wellness Program
GENITAL HYGIENE FOR WOMEN
What is it?
Genital hygiene means the way in which women keep their genitals clean. This part of the body is made up of skin, moist areas and glands. Secretions (moistness) from the vagina keep it clean and healthy and these secretions are normal. These secretions protect the vagina and the skin.
Are there any problems with washing the genitals?
Yes. The skin and moist surfaces of the body are very delicate. It is important not to wash with harsh chemicals that may irritate the area. Washing too often, or rubbing too hard when drying, can irritate this skin. If you have problems in this area, washing with plain water is best. Using soap, shower gels and some cleansers can make the problems worse. Your healthcare provider may be able to suggest a soap substitute.
What is the best way of keeping myself “clean”?
After washing hands, gently separate the outer “lips” and bathe the inner skin (or vulva) with plain water, using your hands only. Gently pat dry the outer skin.
What else should I know?
It is not necessary to wash the vulva every day and it should not be washed more than once a day. Do not wash the vagina (the opening leading to cervix and uterus). Do not use wipes, deodorants, douches or other cosmetic and cleansing products. Women with a problem in this area should use only treatments prescribed by their healthcare provider.
- Use soft, white, unscented toilet paper.
- Use lukewarm or cool sitz baths to relieve burning or irritation.
- Avoid getting shampoo on the vulvar area.
- Do not use bubble bath, feminine hygiene products, powder, or any perfumed creams or soaps.
- Wash the vulva with cool to lukewarm water only.
- Rinse the vulva with water after urinations.
- Urinate before the bladder is full.
- Prevent constipation by (a) adding fiber to your diet (if necessary, use a psyllium product such as Metamucil) and (b) drinking at least 8 glasses of water daily.
- Use 100 percent cotton menstrual pads and tampons.
- Avoid the daily use of pantiliners. Change underwear as often as necessary to control wetness.
- “Natural care products” – naturalcare.com.
International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease.
Patient Information Committee, December 2003.