Should I Wash My Vulva With Soap

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Should I Wash My Vulva With Soap

Actually, your vagina needs you to just leave it alone. It can clean itself, thank you very much.

“For vaginal health up inside, you don’t need to do anything,” Dr. Jennifer Gunter, Bay Area OB-GYN, tells BuzzFeed Life. “Leave it alone. It’s like a self-cleaning oven.” But instead of an oven cleaner, you’ve got tons of good bacteria called lactobacilli working to keep everything spotless.
“They make the vagina acidic so that it makes it difficult for pathogens to grow,” explains Gunter. “And they produce different substances that can be toxic to different bacteria and viruses.” Basically, they do all the cleaning for you, so they really don’t need your help. (FYI: We’re strictly talking about the vagina here — not the vulva, which is the outer layer of your genitals. We’ll get to that in a minute.)

Don’t feel the need to lather up your vulva every single day.

Your skin down there is sensitive. And, like any part of your body, the more you wash it, the more you’re stripping away your skin’s natural oils and causing irritation. “One of the big problems we have in North America is over-washing,” says Gunter. (This is how often you should actually shower, according to science.) So even if you’re only soaping up after sex or a workout, don’t do it more than once a day, says Gunter.

HALP, something itches and/or burns!

DID YOU USE THE VANILLA-SCENTED BODY WASH?! According to Gunter, the majority of people who think they have yeast infections actually just have an irritation to a product they’ve been using. Stop washing with anything but water for a day or two and see if it subsides.
That said, if the itching/irritation/burning feels like it’s up inside the vagina, that’s more likely to be a yeast infection, so you’ll probably want to call your doctor. If you’d rather try an OTC yeast infection medicine first, go for it, but call your doctor if your symptoms don’t go away. “Those products are highly effective, so if you’re not better you don’t want to keep treating yourself. You want to get a correct diagnosis.”

"Think about a douche as a cigarette for your vagina,” says Gunter.

Well, that escalated quickly. But, really. If you read the back of these products, you’ll find a warning label that mentions an association between douching and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), an infection that can lead to severe complications like scarring, ectopic pregnancy, and infertility. “Multiple studies show that douching is associated with damaging your good bacteria,” says Gunter.
Using these products could even make you more susceptible to STDs. "When women are deficient in the strains of protective lactobacilli, they're more likely to catch an STD when exposed to one," she says.

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