Every Nigerian female knows the vagina is a delicate part of a female that needs to be treated with proper care and attention for it to stay clean and healthy.
The vagina itself (the internal opening leading to the cervix) is self-cleaning and doesn’t need to be washed. However, the vulva(outer part of the genitals) and the area around the anus need to be washed at least once daily to prevent infections.
It is important to adopt good vaginal hygiene habits such as wearing cotton underwear and wiping from front to back after using the toilet, especially in a country like Nigeria where public toilets are mostly used. Also, establishing a proper daily washing routine to keep the vaginal area clean is very important.
Ways to wash your vagina
You should wash the area around your vagina at least once a day and more than once a day if you’re on your period.
Throughout the day, sweat builds up in the vaginal area, providing a good environment for the growth of bacteria and yeast. Washing the vaginal area daily as part of your regular bath session helps to get rid of unpleasant odour and also prevents vaginal infection.
- Use warm water and unscented soap or feminine wash to wash your genital area.
- You can use your hand or a very soft washcloth to gently wash your vulva. Don’t use a harsh washcloth and don’t scrub harshly to prevent irritation to that area.
- Gently spread your labia and clean the folds around your clitoris. Carefully clean all the creases and folds around the vagina, the skin folds inside, the hood of your clitoris and the area outside the entrance of the vagina. Try not to get any soap into the vagina itself to avoid causing irritation and burning sensation.
- Move to your perineum (the area between your vagina and anus) and wash with proper care. Then, gently wash your anus and area between your buttocks. Make sure to move from the front to back while you wash to avoid spreading germs from your anal area to your vagina. Washing from back to front increases your risk of developing a vaginal infection or urinary tract infection.
- After washing your entire genital area, thoroughly rinse with plain, warm water. Make sure to wash away any remaining soap suds to avoid them drying there and later causing irritation to the delicate skin around your genitals. Try not to force water into your vagina as it can cause irritation and tamper with the natural pH balance of your vagina or push unwanted bacteria up into your uterus.
- After washing, use a clean, dry towel to pat your genital area dry. Don’t rub the area to avoid causing irritation.
- Avoid using scented wipes and deodorant sprays or any perfumed products afterwards.
How to keep your vagina clean as a Nigerian female
- Wear cotton and breathable underwears to prevent irritation and reduce moisture. Synthetic materials like nylon and polyester keep in moisture and heat around your genital area which creates a conducive environment for harmful bacteria and yeast. Change into a fresh pair daily or more often if your underwear gets damp or sweaty.
- Avoid thongs and tight leggings or pants since they trap moisture and cause irritation to your vulva.
- Try sleeping without underwear to allow your genital area to breath throughout the night.
- Wear loose cotton boxers at night.
- Always wash new underwear before wearing them for the first time as there may contain harsh dyes or chemical residues which can cause irritation to your vulva and vagina. Use mild, unscented detergent and try rinsing more than once.
- After using the toilet, wipe from front to back to avoid moving bacteria from your anal area to into your vagina or urethra, putting you at risk of developing a vaginal or urinary tract infection.
- Avoid toilet papers with perfumes or dyes since they can irritate your vulva and vagina. Stick to plain, white paper.
- Clean up with mineral oils (such as Dove) after stubborn bowel movements. Rinse off with a little water and pat dry. Studies show that using feminine wipes can cause pain and irritation and may significantly increase your chances of getting a urinary tract infection.
- Change out of wet clothes immediately after swimming or exercise. Staying in wet or sweaty clothes can promote the growth of harmful bacteria and yeast.
- Take a shower after swimming or exercise to wash off sweats, grime or chlorine.
- Change your tampons and pads often during your period. Never wear a pad for more than 8 hours to prevent potentially deadly toxic shock syndrome. Don’t use scented pads or tampons.
- Use condoms during sex. Urinating afterwards helps to prevent infections.
- Shower immediately after sex to rinse off sweats, bacteria and other body fluids that might contribute to bacterial or yeast infection.
- Try a baking soda soak to reduce excess odour and cleanse your vulva. Fill a bathtub with lukewarm water and add 4-5 tablespoons of baking soda. Baking soda soaks also help reduce itching and burning.
Keeping your vagina clean at all times helps to reduce your risk of getting any kind of vaginal infections. Practice safe sex and stick to one partner to avoid getting sexually transmitted infections (STI).
While in the shower, be sure to be very careful with your genital area and you wash them. Avoid using long nails, wash with the pads of your fingers to avoid getting a bruise, irritation or burning sensation.
Avoid using perfumed soaps, douches, deodorant sprays, scented wipes, gels or antiseptics on your vagina. These can cause irritation and affect the healthy balance of bacteria and pH levels in the vagina.
Use plain, unscented soaps to wash the area around your vagina gently every day.
Avoid getting water into your vagina itself as the vagina is self-cleaning and does not need any extra need.
Wash your vagina more than once a day during your period. It is also important to keep your perineal area clean.
Avoid re-wearing underwear without washing. Thoroughly wash and rinse your underwear.
Rinse your new underwear with plain, warm water.