It may be embarrassing, but a lot of women are not properly informed on how to keep clean "down there." Picture this: you're in the shower scrubbing up. When you get to your private parts, you pause for a moment before cautiously proceeding. Sound familiar? Well, if you've ever wondered how to clean your vagina, you're certainly not alone.
Luckily, there's a lot of great doctors out there that are ready to answer all your questions, like Nancy Herta, M.D., an ob-gyn at Michigan State University did for Glamour.com.
First off, Herta says that your private area is actually really good at cleaning itself, for the most part. This is due to the low pH, which prevents the growth of bad bacteria.
“It’s a delicate balance that makes the vagina hostile to bacteria,” Herta said. “If you put stuff in there that changes the pH, you can allow bacteria to overgrow.”
This can lead to a yeast or bacteria infection in your lady parts. Doesn't sound too fun, right? And if you're concerned about discharge you're having, Herta said that it's completely normal. In fact, that's part of how your private area cleans itself. In any case, Herta discourages women from using douches to clean, because they can upset the body's natural pH levels.
She said, "If you douche, it changes the pH, making it higher and allowing other kinds of bacteria to overgrow."
Apparently, douching can also really dry you out, making you more vulnerable to pain during intercourse. Yikes!
And on top of all that, a recent study from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences linked douching with much more serious consequences down the line, such as a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. Though more research is needed to know why, it may have something to do with the possibility of pushing harmful bacteria into the ovaries.
That being said, the safest way to clean the area is using a really mild soap for your labia (the outer part of your privates) while you're in the shower or bath, says Herta. After you're done, though, be sure to pat the area with a towel and make certain you're totally dry before putting underwear back on, as any moisture left behind can cause a yeast infection.
See what your skin, hair, and nails can reveal about your health below.