There’s a high chance you’re doing at least one of the things on this list. And you need to stop. Like, now.
Our lady gardens are fragile things.
Much like a real garden, if you over-care for it, you can end up causing more issues in the process, and if you neglect it, well, let’s just say it won’t be coming up roses.
Unfortunately, there’s a high chance you’re doing at least one of the non-vagina-friendly things on this list, as some of the most common feminine hygiene practices are inherently damaging. Thankfully, there’s something you can do to get your rosebud blossoming again – stop doing these things, immediately.
1. Using perfumed products down there
From a new trend involving applying skincare masks to the vulva to keep the skin down there fresh (yep, it’s a real thing. Google it.), to deodorant products for your nether regions, it’s all bad news for the health of your vah-jay-jay. Despite what the proponents of these trends and products would have us believe, our vaginas aren’t inherently putrid looking or smelling, and applying unknown fragrances downstairs can irritate the fragile skin around your vulva, causing rashes and worse. If you do notice a distinct foul smell between your legs, don’t cover it up. Chances are you have a yeast infection or an STD, and should get to your gyno or doctor ASAP to have it checked out.
2. Wearing underwear to bed
Yes, our mothers always told us to wear nice underwear in case we’re ever unfortunate enough to be hit by a bus; but the chance of sleep-walking into one is pretty slim, and wearing those frilly panties to bed is doing you more harm than good. A recent report from Dr Alyssa Dweck found wearing underwear to bed can lead to yeast infections.
“I often tell my patients to sleep without underwear. If [the area] is constantly covered, especially by a fabric that’s not moisture-wicking or absorbent – moisture collects, creating the perfect breeding ground for bacteria or yeast,” explains Dweck.
3. Going completely hair-free
While Brazilians look great, you shouldn’t make them a regular occurrence. Pubic hair covers our vulvas for a reason; it acts as a protective barrier from bacteria, so being sans pubes may mean you’re opening yourself up to the increased risk of STDs and other potential infections. Additionally, waxing and shaving can lead to ingrown hairs, which, if not tackled promptly and correctly, can result in infection. So save splashing your cash on getting a Brazilian for those sexy weekends away, or the next time you plan on donning a teeny-weeny bikini and embrace your bush the rest of the time.
If you have never heard of “steaming,” it is a new health trend where infrared and mugwort steam is used to “cleanse” your uterus. While some women swear by V-steaming, doctors have commented on the process noting that there are risks involved, such as burning if the steam is too hot and it messes with your natural bacteria.
Can you use oil-based lubricants, soft rubber toys, vegetables, flavored condoms, vaginal deodorant, soap, etc?
In short, no, you shouldn’t really. We don’t want to be stuck in the mud, but all of the above can increase your risk of infection. The vagina, while surprisingly hardy and self-cleaning, has a delicate balance of bacteria that shouldn’t be upset by foreign matter.
Oil-based lubricants often provide breeding grounds for bacteria and break down the latex in condoms. Soft rubber toys can have micro-cracks where bacteria gather. Vegetables (even when washed) are covered in bacteria that your mouth and digestive tract can deal with, but not your vagina. Flavored condoms are fine for oral play, but the sugar can cause infections, and vaginal deodorants and soap contains all sorts of harsh ingredients never intended for your cookie.
As a rule, clean fingers, penises and sex toys made from safe materials are generally your best bet. If you want to use anything else, be sure to put a condom over it before insertion.