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Should You Clean Your Vagina?

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The vagina is a sensitive part of the body, so it doesn't always get the same treatment as other parts of the body. Even the vaginal cleaning practices are different from cleaning practices in other parts of the body. Improper cleaning procedures in the genitals can cause injury or discomfort.
This FAQ will help you decide if your vagina needs to be cleaned and learn the proper way to clean it. Learn about potential problems that can happen as a result of improper cleaning or douching.  

Should You Be Cleaning Your Vagina?

The vagina is the interior muscle of the female body that leads to the uterus. The vagina itself is self-cleaning. The vagina contains bacteria, called vaginal flora, which helps protect the uterus and the other parts of the female reproductive system.
You do not have to clean your vagina. In fact, many professionals strongly recommend against cleaning your vagina. Cleaning the vagina can cause an imbalance of vaginal flora that can lead to a change in pH, irritation, yeast infections and other problems. 
You can, however, clean the parts just outside of the vaginal opening, called the vulva. The proper way to clean the vulva is to open the folds of skin that protect the genitals and to splash the area with warm, non-soapy water. You do not need to scrub the area, as this can cause an irritation.

Should You Use Soap to Clean the Area Around the Vagina?

You may use soap, however, you don’t need to. If you do, use gentle soap recommended by your doctor. Avoid any products that contain perfumes or fragrances, as this can irritate your skin. Do not use a washcloth.
What Is the Difference Between Cleaning the Genitals and Douching?
Standard genital cleaning procedures like the ones described above involve cleaning the area just outside the vagina, but not the inside. Douching is the process of flushing the vaginal canal with a mixture of water and vinegar. To begin the procedure, the person who is douching fills a bag with the solution, and then the solution is squirted into the body.
The purpose of vaginal cleaning is to keep the area sanitary, while the purpose of douching is often to give the body a feeling of freshness. Some people douche because they believe that the process can help eliminate odors, wash away semen, or wash away menstrual blood.

Should You Douche?

Douching is a common practice. Some estimates say that 1 out of 5 women in the United States may douche. However, doctors have concerns that douching can be harmful, especially if it is done too often.
Douching more than once per week is associated with complications during pregnancy. Douching can also be associated with a higher risk of vaginal infection, cervical cancer, and pelvic inflammatory disease. Women who want to douche should consult with their OBGYN before doing. 

Should You Clean Your Vagina Because of Odor?

Some vaginal odor is normal and should be ignored. Other vaginal odor could be an indication of a vaginal infection. Washing the vagina or douching could cause a loss of beneficial bacteria, which could cause the infection to get worse.
If you notice a stronger odor than normal and are experiencing other symptoms like itching, burning or discharge, talk to your OBGYN. Your OBGYN can help diagnose your problem.
For more information about self-care in the vagina or vulva, contact a reputable OBGYN in your area. At Jack G. Faup M.D., our doctor is happy to answer any questions you might have and help you stay healthy. To make an appointment, contact us today. 


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