Dr Dipesh Mahendra Waghmare explains why chemical-based vaginal wash can be harmful to vagina causing bacteria and infections
Maintaining proper hygiene and a healthy lifestyle makes you more confident. But, can wash your vagina with soap or body wash is the right way? Just like washing your hair and body, vagina cleaning is also an essential part of your body. Regularly checking your vagina should be a necessary part of your self-care routine. Hence it is advisable to consult a gynaecologist if you suspect something is wrong.
In conversation with Dr Dipesh Mahendra Waghmare, Medical Advisor Executive at Millennium Herbal Care says, “The risk of intimate douching with soap and shower gels is increased, and hence external intimate washes are considered as more appropriate for intimate health and hygiene”. Douching contains certain chemicals such as cleansers, including homemade solutions of water and vinegar which can interfere with the vaginal pH. The vagina already has healthy bacteria that maintain harmony and using this can disrupt the healthy vaginal bacteria. The vagina must be maintained between an average pH of 3.8 to 4.5. It can elevate the natural vaginal balance due to elements having a pH of 7.5 or 8.
“Go for those intimate washes which are natural and free from harmful chemicals, that augments skin homeostasis and helps women with vaginal infections,” says Dr Waghmare. The hygiene products such as scented wipes, vaginal deodorants or scrubs aren’t a good idea to keep the vagina healthy. These products can make you prone to infections and can even lead to skin peeling, which increases the risk of infections. This also creates an imbalance in the delicate immunity protective microflora and can irritate sensitive intimate skin that causes itching and dryness. As the vagina doesn’t have an extra protective layer, they are more prone to drying too. The dryness increases the risk of overgrown yeast and pathogenic bacteria, causing bacterial vaginosis and vaginal candidiasis leading to bad odour, discomfort, and vaginal discharge. The right way to use an intimate wash is:
Dr Waghmare says, “The chemical-based intimate washes have a high level of germ-killing activity, so use of these products kills both bad bacteria as well as the good protective bacteria (Lactobacilli), that supports healthy vaginal microbiome and balances pH of the vagina.” Douching can even increase a person’s risk of cervical cancer and pelvic inflammatory disease.
A study by the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada found out the association between the use of intimate washes and 3.5 times higher risk of bacterial infections, and a more than the twofold higher risk of having a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Some safe practices
Selecting the right kind of intimate wash is essential as every feminine hygiene product is different. “ Choose an intimate wash product with active natural ingredients and chemical-free formulation that inhibits the growth of bad bacteria and thereby decreases the risk of infection without affecting the microflora as a benefit,” explains Dr Waghmare.
- Avoid products that contain surfactants like ammonium lauryl sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfate.
- Do proper research and look at the ingredients while buying a vagina wash product.
- Do not ignore any signs and symptoms of vaginal infection. Excessive vaginal discharge or coloured vaginal discharge are some of the symptoms. Do not ignore an itchy vagina or pain in the vaginal region as this could be an underlying health condition. So consult a gynaecologist if you are worried about the odour, itchiness, or redness to avoid any problem.
- In case you are concerned about vaginal odour, then avoid products claiming to eliminate it as it is normal for vaginas to have a smell.
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