Why does the vagina have so many myths around it? Often times, women are taught from a young age that their vaginal health is dependent on vaginal cleansing. Easier put, the idea that the vagina is dirty or has odor, and needs to be “cleansed” for sanitation. Before you go out and buy dangerous products to cater to this outdated myth, let’s get educated!
The Vagina is Self Cleaning
Contrary to the popular (and faulty) belief that vaginas are dirty, it’s quite the opposite. The magical vagina is a self cleaning organ, working hard 24/7 to keep a healthy internal ecosystem. This is commonly seen as discharge, which can change during the month depending on what part of your menstrual cycle you are experiencing. The vagina has a sensitive PH, which is normally acidic at a 3.8-4.5 pH level.
Vaginal PH Balance Is Sensitive
Given this sensitive pH balance that is very acidic, any products that interact with your vagina can throw this balance off. A disruption of your pH can lead to unpleasant symptoms like yeast infections, or make you prone to infections like bacterial vaginosis. Douching products, or common vaginal cleansing products, are heavily damaging to your vaginal pH. Using them actually creates a aggressive cycle of vaginal irritation that requires the idea of more cleansing or medical attention.
Commonly causing yeast infections or BV, the user might think they need to continue cleansing- the best answer is to actually stop using cleansing products. Things like tampons, lubricants, and even semen can also disrupt the sensitive pH in our vaginas, leading to these common issues.
Cleanse the Vulva, Not the Vagina
The vagina is the internal portion of your genitals that leads to your cervix and uterus, while the vulva is your external genitalia. While the vagina is self cleaning and does not need cleansing, it’s common that we may want to cleanse our vulvas. Vulvas, like any other body part, can harbor smell and get sweaty- it’s normal! Depending on our time of month, our pubic hair, the kind of underwear we have, etc- we may feel the need to freshen up. The good news is, using only water or products that are natural and PH balanced are perfectly fine for cleansing your vulva.
In the shower, simply use the running water to run down your vulva and freshen up. If you feel you want to use a product, we recommend using a vulva safe product like AH! Yes Intimate Cleanser. If you’re on the go, consider carrying with you AfterGlow Wipes or Sweet Spot Cleansing Wipes. Remember, this is to be used strictly on your vulva- don’t insert into your vagina under any circumstance.
Vaginas Are Supposed to Have a Scent
The most common excuse for trying to vaginally cleanse is the idea that vaginas “smell”. Newsflash, they do! It’s perfectly normal for vaginas to have their own, unique scent due to the acidic pH, and this scent may change during our cycle in the month. The idea that vaginas should smell like flowers and roses is completely inaccurate, and dangerously makes women shame themselves.
The only times vaginal odor should be of concern is if there is an infection. If your vaginal odor smells fishy, foul, and pungent- you may have an infection like Bacterial Vaginosis. If this is the case, visit your doctor to get a proper diagnosis and follow a professionals next steps.