So the first question we need to ask is do you need to wash your vagina?

The answer is No!  But you should wash your vulva.

What is a vagina vs. a vulva?

It’s a little confusing to hear that you shouldn’t wash your vagina, and where in the world is your vulva?  If you haven’t taken health class in about twenty years, the vagina is the inner canal inside of your body whereas the vulva is the outer parts such as the inner and outer labia (also called the vaginal lips), the clitoris, and the clitoris hood.

When you wash the inside of your vagina, it can lead to some problems.  The vagina actually keeps itself clean and healthy by maintaining the correct pH balance and cleans itself with the good bacteria you need.  So leave your vagina alone!

Your vagina has natural bacteria that occurs in it that you don’t want to be expelled.  The bacteria helps to maintain the healthy pH and keeps you healthy!

If you’re interested in learning more about your vaginas pH, here’s a great article we wrote last month for you to check out.

But it is a good idea to wash your vulva. 

How exactly do you clean your vulva?

You should start washing your vulva by just using warm water when you’re in the shower.  You don’t need anything else, but you can use a mild soap that is unperfumed if you would like, but make sure it doesn’t irritate the area.

You can start cleaning the vulva by spreading the lips apart and gently washing around the folds.  Use your hands or a washcloth but avoid getting soap or water in your vagina.

Make sure you’re also washing your anus and your vulva every day, you want to make sure you’re clean so you’re the most healthy you can be.  And when you wash, cleanse from front to back, washing the vulva first and secondly your anus, otherwise bacteria from the anus can spread to the vagina.

So what about the feminine wash or sprays?

A lot of grocery and drug stores sell washes fro the vagina or soaps that are said to reduce the odor, do not buy these, they are not good for your vagina, you don’t want those perfumes so close to you, and you certainly don’t want to wash inside the canal of the vagina.

But what about an odor?

All vaginas smell in different ways, and they can range from smelling coppery to sweet, these smells change based on what you eat and during your menstrual cycle they shift.

No one will be able to smell your vagina unless they are your sexual partner and are very close to you, but even then, all the odors are natural and there’s nothing to worry about.

How do I wash my vagina during menstruation?

You can wash your vulva during your period the same way you would while not menstruating.  Just wash around the lips with your hands or washcloth.

Let’s Talk about Douching

Vaginal douching is when you put a solution into the vagina, with the goal of cleaning the canal.  This IS A BAD IDEA.  DO NOT DOUCHE.  This doesn’t clean, it just kills off all the good bacteria that tries to maintain your vaginal pH.

When you douche you are more prone to infection.

There are also problems with vaginal steaming when Gwyneth Paltrow brought it to attention in 2015, do not do this, there are no studies on how this can help you.

So when you’re washing your vagina, make sure to use warm water and a mild soap, that’s all you need to wash the vulva, and not the inside tract.

About the author

Alice Cash is the Marketing Manager for Jubilance by day and an award winning Theatre Director by night.  Leading the podcast Weekly Woman, she loves her candid conversations with women from all over the world about how they live and the amazing things they are doing to make a difference. Alice is also the editor of the bi-monthly newsletter the Jubilee, a blog dedicated to the power of female wellness especially concerning menstruation.  She’s worked in France creating theatre pieces and taught drama and filmmaking to women and children in Haiti.  She graduated from Georgetown University and holds two master degrees from NYU and The New School.  Alice has traveled to  40+ countries, including Tibet.  She is a New Yorker and can often be found in Central Park, searching out the best bubble tea, or directing a play, you never know where she’ll show up. @alicesadventuresinwonderworld
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