“Caring for your vagina as you age should come as naturally as caring for your skin and hair.”
Women are typically quite diligent when it comes to taking careful care of their hair and skin as they age, but often, vaginal health is overlooked. The vagina is a very delicate area and the skin on the outside is very susceptible to damage from chemicals and other irritants. Hair and fat on the labia work to protect the vagina, and as we loose both as we age, the skin surrounding it becomes even more likely to be affected.
FemRenew Clinic Director Dr. Fay Weisberg shares some essential tips for keeping the vagina in tip top condition:
Keep it clean. Naturally.
In earlier times, women were taught it’s a must to cleanse daily with strong soap or feminine hygiene sprays. However, those can bring more harm than good.
Washing your vagina with a bar or liquid soap is actually not the best way to clean. The vagina can stay clean on its own without the help of outer cleansers. The vagina, just like some other parts of the body, has its own pH level that needs to be maintained: 3.5 and 4.5. These levels prevent the growth of unhealthy bacteria and also facilitate good bacteria growth. When you use cleansers that are too strong, this might lead to irritation, foul odour, or worse, infection. Soap residue that isn’t completely washed off from the vagina will cause irritation. Warm water is often the best cleanser, or glycerin soaps. Avoid vaginal washes and douches
Avoid douches or feminine sprays.
Douching with chemicals that are intended to make the vagina smell like flowers often has opposite effects. These chemicals wash out even the healthy bacteria that help the vagina stay clean and infection-free. The chemicals left behind by douching cause irritation and burning.
Practise good period hygiene.
Many women are afraid to use tampons during their period, but shouldn’t be. Tampons are very safe to use, as long as they are changed frequently. Washable pads, cotton pads or menstrual cups are also safe. Using sanitary pads that are scented, have a plastic weave or liner on them should be avoided as they can cause severe irritation to the vulva and vagina. Some women may also experience itching following their periods or burning while using these pads. Checking with a doctor about your menstral routine practises is always best.
Wipe: front-to-back. Flushable wipes rock.
Wiping front to back is essential for preventing fecal matter from entering the vagina – which can cause infections. Use unscented toilet paper that is soft and avoid unnecessary roughness. Flushable wipes are great to use, and keeping portable ones handy in a purse while away from home, and travelling.
Choose cotton undies.
Cotton underwear dries quickly and also allows air to flow freely through the fabric. Wearing cotton will prevent dampness which can promote yeast and unhealthy bacteria growth. If you like wearing underwear that is made from other fabrics, just make sure that the section touching your vagina has a cotton liner.
Change out of that wet bathing suit.
Lying around in a damp bathing suit can also cause yeast and unhealthy bacteria growth. Opt for a quick dry fabric or be sure to bring an extra suit to switch into post dip.
Ensure your Waxing place is Clean:
If you choose to get your bikini hair waxed, ensure the facility is clean and that the esthetician practises safe hygiene.
Pee after sex:
To avoid urinary issues such as bladder infections, it’s best to pee after intercourse.
These are just some of the tips on how you can make sure you are taking care of your vagina. If you are experiencing unusual symptoms, it is best to see your doctor right away.
About Dr. Fay Weisberg: Dr. Fay Weisberg (MD, FRCSC) is a Toronto-based gynecologist and infertility specialist with a successful practise focused on contraception, fertility and menopause. Her FemRenew clinic is one of the first in Canada to provide patients with the Health Canada approved, non-hormonal, safe and effective MonaLisa Touch® laser treatment for rejuvenating vaginal and sexual health. www.femrenew.ca