Seunga (Jasmine) Han, PharmD Candidate
“Clean and Fresh”
No doubt you’ve taken a walk through your local pharmacy before, and come across products like Summer’s Eve ®, Vagisil ® and Tucks ®. These are some popular examples of female hygiene products that claim to promote good feminine health. But when there are these many products available, do they all really work? Or do they all just do the same thing? What do they even do?
What’s Considered Normal?
When it comes to female genital hygiene, many women may be unfamiliar with what’s normal and what requires medical attention.
A healthy vaginal environment is typically slightly acidic, which is achieved with the help of healthy vaginal bacterium called Lactobacillus vaginalis. Together, the acidic environment combined with the presence of vaginal bacteria work to prevent infection.1
In terms of vaginal discharge, “normal” may vary in each individual in quantity, consistency and appearance throughout the menstrual cycle; this occurs due to hormonal fluctuations. Depending on the menstrual cycle, the discharge may be pasty, white and minimal, while close to the time of ovulation, the discharge may be wet and slippery with the consistency of uncooked egg white. Sometimes, there may not be any discharge. Regardless of the qualities of the discharge, there should never be any irritating, burning or itching sensations.1
Additionally, it’s normal for the discharge to have a mild odour due to secretions from glands near the vagina; however, if you find that the odour is unpleasant and unusual, it may require additional medical attention.1
Proper Genital Hygiene
Contrary to what you may think, genital hygiene is very simple and easy to do. The areas surrounding the vagina should be washed daily using warm water and a mild soap that is free from perfume and other harsh ingredients. After cleansing, the area should be rinsed well with warm water to remove any soap residue. Since the vagina cleanses itself naturally, further cleansing is not typically required.1
The Bottom Line
As you can see, mild soap and warm water are more than enough to ensure proper care for hygiene. In part 2 of the series, we will cover the different types of female hygiene products that are available in the market as well as emerging evidence regarding their use.
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