Vaginal/Vulvar Care

Vaginal/Vulvar Care

Vaginal/Vulvar Care GwinnettThe vagina is the tube of muscle inside a woman's body that runs from the cervix (the opening of the womb) to the vaginal opening. The external sex organs, which are collectively referred to as the vulva, surround the vaginal opening and include folds of sensitive tissue (labia), a mounded area of fatty tissue that covers the pubic bone (mons pubis), a small, round organ (clitoris), and the openings of the vagina and urinary canal (urethra). Under normal circumstances, the vagina is designed to keep itself clean with the help of natural secretions (discharge). This discharge is closely related to the body’s natural hormone levels, so changes in the amount of discharge are usually linked to the menstrual cycle, pregnancy or menopause. However, in some cases, excessive discharge can cause an uncomfortable feeling of wetness that may be an indication that an infection is present. The goal of regular vaginal and vulvar care is to keep the area dry and free from irritants, thus preventing the vulva from becoming red, swollen and irritated, a condition called vaginitis, and ultimately avoiding infection.

 

Vaginal/Vulvar Hygiene Tips

Several different kinds of bacteria naturally live in symbiosis inside the vagina, just like in the bowel and in other areas throughout the body. These helpful bacteria help maintain the vagina’s pH balance and produce naturally occurring antibiotics to reduce or kill harmful bacteria that may enter the vagina. If the delicate balance of these bacteria is disturbed, most likely as a result of improper hygiene or unsafe sex, infection and inflammation can occur. Healthy vaginal and vulvar care involves following some relatively straightforward hygiene tips:
 

  • Use only warm water to wash the vulva and dry the area thoroughly with a clean towel. Do not use vaginal douches unless prescribed by your physician.
  • Wear only white, 100% cotton underwear. Avoid wearing thongs, damp bathing suits, or underwear made of nylon, acetate, or other manmade fibers for prolonged periods.
  • Always wash new underclothes before wearing them, preferably with a mild soap as opposed to harsh detergents or fabric softeners. Rinse your underclothes thoroughly after washing.
  • Whenever possible, use soft, white toilet tissue free from artificial dyes, perfumes, or chemicals.
  • Tampons, rather than sanitary napkins, are generally preferable for the control menstrual bleeding. Avoid deodorant tampons and try not to leave tampons in for long periods of time because, in very rare cases, toxic shock syndrome may occur.
  • Nylon pantyhose and panty girdles trap heat and moisture, providing an ideal environment for harmful bacteria. They should be avoided. When nylons or leggings are required, wear cotton or nylons with a cotton panty.
  • Certain feminine hygiene products, such as sanitary pads, feminine spray and deodorants, Vaseline®, oils, greases, bubble baths, bath oils, talc, or powder may irritate the vulva and should be generally avoided.


Get additional tips on how best to avoid yeast and bacterial infections here. Not all vaginal infections are alike and home treatments can potentially worsen some types. If you have any concerns about your vulvar or vaginal health, or notice unusual changes in vaginal discharge, contact Dr. Gould to help determine the steps you need to take.

 

Vaginal/Vulvar Care FAQs

How can I tell if the discharge from my vagina is “abnormal”?
Ordinarily, healthy vaginal discharge does not have a strong smell or color. While you may feel an uncomfortable wetness, you should not experience any itching or soreness around your vagina. It is important to note that the character and amount of vaginal discharge does vary throughout your menstrual cycle. Around the time your ovary releases an egg (ovulation) vaginal discharge usually becomes thicker and stretchy, like raw egg white. Changes that are abnormal for you, including a change in color, smell, or sensation, may be a sign of an infection and should prompt a visit to our office.

Should I use a vaginal douche to keep my vagina clean?
Ideally, the vagina cleanses itself naturally in the form of normal, vaginal discharge and proper vaginal care requires maintaining a healthy balance of the bacteria and pH levels in the vagina. A vaginal douche flushes water up into the vagina, clearing out these natural vaginal secretions and disrupting this healthy balance. There is no evidence that douching protects against STIs or vaginal infections, and it may even increase the risk, so we do not generally recommend their use.

 

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Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett
601 Professional Drive, Suite 330
Lawrenceville, Georgia 30046   
Phone: 678.380.1980   
Fax: 678.380.7348

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