Dolly Doctor

A Doctor’s Guide On How To Clean Your Vagina And Avoid Infections

From how often to change your undies to peeing after sex.
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Somehow, from associating fish crawling out of the sea to two-legged walking mammals, humans have become terrified of the word Vagina.

WATCH: 5 fascinating facts about vaginas.

There are literally so many alternative words used to tiptoe over this very normal word. Bits, fanny, flower, box, downstairs, vag and vajayjay, to name a few – too many, in our opinion.

So it’s really not surprising that since many people can’t say the word vagina without squirming, most of us end up not even learning basic and important information about it.

In 2016, Vice shared findings from a British survey sampling 1,000 British women, finding that 44 per cent of them could not identify their vagina on “a medical illustration of the female reproductive tract.”

The survey also found that fewer were able to find the vulva, with 60 per cent of women failing this aspect of the task, and “only one-third of the women” could correctly place labels on the vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries on a diagram.

It is safe to say that it’s irrelevant that the survey is from a British study because we have also been subject to our own lack of education around the female genitalia. 

IMPORTANT: Not knowing this is not something to be ashamed of – we shouldn’t be expected to work this out on our own all the time. 

So that’s why we wanted to debrief everything we know about it with a pro. Girlfriend talked to General Practitioner Dr Jill Forer about how to keep your vagina happy and clean. 

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A labelled diagram. (Credit: Getty)

First thing first, what is the vagina?

The vagina sits at the base of the cervix, which is where the opening of the uterus resides. It’s an internal muscular tube supported by a group of horizontal muscles in the pelvic floor that ends at the vulva – a structure that protects the vagina from the outside.

Is the vagina self-cleaning?

For healthy people, the vagina is, in fact, self-cleaning! Super handy – honestly, how cool are bodies?!

“The vagina is self-cleaning due to secretions and bacteria, which help it maintain the correct acid balance for good health,” shared Dr Jill.

Dr Jill also points out that vaginas have changing secretions at different times of the menstrual cycle. This can range from a white thick substance like flour and water mixed, to a stretchy clear raw egg-like discharge. Sometimes blood will be in the mix around ovulation time as well. 

“If a discharge is smelly or burny, that is a different matter. Seek help from your doctor before you turn to a feminine spray or wipe.

“There is much advertising for them, but my experience has shown me that they are generally not useful and can be harmful,” said Dr Jill.

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Your vagina is self-cleaning. (Credit: Getty)

How do you clean your Vagina?

According to Dr Jill, the anatomical structure of the external genitalia, which includes your small vulva (non-hairy), your large vulva (hairy) and your clitoris (aka the only known body part with the pure purpose of pleasure, so the real MVP), should be washed daily with mild soap and water.

Harsher soaps can cause stinging and burning, so again, make sure to use a fragrance-free and mild soap.

Are fem products and douching okay?

Dr Jill advises against inserting any products into your vagina unless you have spoken to your GP because feminine sprays and wipes aren’t healthy, and if you encounter the wrong formula, it can cause “burning, stinging and allergies.”

Even though there are some trendy and seemingly super chic, feminine product brands out there, please refrain from using them unless your doctor gives you the thumbs up. Because, as noted above, your vagina is self-cleaning, therefore you don’t need to attend to it like your face (No ten-step vagina routine pls…).

As for douching, Jill suggests only using one when prescribed by a doctor – it can change the PH balance of your vagina, which will remove healthy bacteria and necessary mucous.

Is removing public hair bad?

This is perhaps a controversial topic because while there is no real reason to remove hair, it is, of course, totally up to the individual and what makes them feel confident.

However, in a medical sense removing all the public hair from your “vagina and vulva is not healthy or safe.”

“It removes all the protection around the opening and can increase the risk of sexually transmitted infections.

“Soon after waxing, each hair follicle essentially becomes a microscopic opening that infectious organisms can enter easily.

“By all means tidy up with waxing or laser but leave adequate hair to protect the vagina and vulva,” said Dr Jill.

How often should you change your underwear?

The answer to this question may come as a bit of a surprise, but apparently, there are no actual rules here.

“There are no rules about changing underwear; some people change once a day and some people twice. Both are fine; it is a personal preference,” said Dr Jill.

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You can change your underwear as you wish. (Credit: Getty)

Are thongs bad for your vagina?

Thongs or G-strings are super handy undergarments for when you are wearing a tight dress and don’t want any visible underwear lines, and also, they are darn cute.

Unfortunately, they aren’t the best for your vagina, but you don’t need to ditch them totally.

“I see a lot of infections, scratches and eczema or dermatitis from prolonged wearing of G strings as the narrow thong is quite intrusive, but occasional wearing is fine,” shared Dr Jill.

Is lube safe to use on your vagina?

Lubricants that you can find at your local pharmacy are safe, and you can ask your pharmacist any questions you have about using the product.

On occasion, you may feel a stinging or burning sensation after application – if this happens, you should wash off the product with warm water immediately.

To avoid this uncomfortable situation, it’s best to avoid lubes that include fruit as they can be more likely to cause allergies.

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Accurate representation of struggling through a UTI. (Credit: Getty)

Why is it essential to pee after sex?

Despite it feeling like an irritating hassle, peeing after sex is one of the most hygienic things you can do, because it “helps to flush out any bacteria that could possibly lead to urinary Infection after intercourse”. 

Dr Jill also notes that “some people may need to wash with warm water after sex if infections occur.”

Lastly, please see your doctor if you get a UTI because leaving it untreated can cause the infection to spread to your bladder and kidneys, which can lead to dangerous results.

However, treatment for a UTI is as easy as having a pee test at the doctors and your GP prescribing a course of antibiotics.

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