6 Tips For Keeping Your Vagina Clean & Healthy

At 13 years old, I took Mami’s green and white bottle of Lemisol, poured some on my hand and rubbed it all over my vagina. And oh, how it burned! My vagina was on fire. I didn’t know how to make it stop, but if I told Mami what I had done, the chancletazo I’d receive would hurt much more. I just wanted a clean vagina. I didn't know the vagina is a self-cleansing organ. In my family, women used Lemisol.

And that’s a problem. These types of products mess up our pH balance and can cause yeast infections and an overgrowth of bacteria. So, how can we have a healthy vagina without them? Gynecologist Michele G. Curtis, M.D. and sexual health expert Elizabeth Boskey, Ph.D gave us the scoop: 

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1. Clean Your Vulva

But isn’t that the same thing as your vagina? Actually, no. The vulva is what’s on the outside: that’s your labia, clitoris, and urethra. The vagina is the internal cavity. You know, where a pene or dildo goes! When you’re washing your lady part, focus on the vulva. “Wiping off extra secretions is probably not that big a deal,” said Dr. Boskey, “but you shouldn’t put chemicals and other things inside your lady part.”

2. Say No To Douching

I decided to give douching another go at 35. And guess what? A month later, I was diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis, a vaginal condition that results from an overgrowth of atypical bacteria. Still don’t think douching is bad for your pepa? Boskey confirms how harmful it can be: “Douching not only has the potential to disrupt the natural vaginal bacteria, but if there is an infection in the vagina or cervix, it has the potential to force that infection up into the cervical canal and uterus.” So stop! 

3. Embrace Your Scent

I understand how women can feel self-conscious over that scent. We’re told we’re supposed to smell like fragrant roses at all times. But our vagina generally has a specific odor that is uniquely ours. You just have to distinguish between your normal odor and an odor that indicates something is wrong. “If it’s smelling unpleasant, and the odor changes over time, talk to your doctor,” Boyken told us. You might just have an infection that requires medical attention.

4. Use pH-Balancing Moisturizers

Some products are recommended by doctors to help a woman’s pH balance, specifically if you’ve douched and have had infections as a result. Also, “some women never feel like things are 100 percent right in their lady part,” Curtis admitted. “ In these cases, RepHresh or Luvena vaginal moisturizers are a great option as they are designed to keep your pH in check.

 

5. Stick To Wipes

They sell feminine wipes over-the-counter to help you freshen up. So, if you must, stash a few feminine wipes in your bathroom cabinet to use before sex. “Just make sure you choose the gentlest option out there,” Dr. Boyken recommended. A wipe without alcohol, fragrance, and glycerin will do the trick. You can also go the traditional route: moisten a piece of toilet paper with water and wipe yourself from front to back (always). It works for me!

6. Use A Gentle Soap

Many gynecologists recommend simply rinsing your vagina with water. I know, I know — that’s not clean enough! Mami even uses javon de cuaba on her lady parts. So no soap is a no go! What’s another option? Using a mild and gentle soap like Dove or Ivory. Again, make sure it’s fragrance free so your vajayjay stays healthy.