We live in a society where companies cash in on the insecurities instilled in the minds of women by the media. Women live with constant insecurities about the natural features of their bodies. In this world of commercialisation of every aspect of our lifestyle, women want to look a certain way, and even smell a certain way to feel beautiful. And, to live up to those artificial standards, we beeline to the shops to buy products that promise to fix us. Take for example the issue of intimate hygiene. Somehow, women have developed the idea that their vagina must smell like freshly plucked flowers or fruits; and, to achieve that, they don't mind cleansing their intimate areas with fancy soaps. But, did you know that soap/body wash should not be used on the vulva/intimate area?

Yes, soap/body wash should not be used on the vulva/intimate area, because they do more harm to the body than any cleansing effect.

Understanding your intimate area:

Most women are not aware of their body, because talking about the female body is a taboo. Well, the first thing to do is to find out more about what you have been born with, whether or not you have any interest in biology. The most basic thing to know about the complicated female body, before we start a conversation about the hygiene of your intimate areas, is that the vagina and the vulva are two different things. The vagina is a tubular, muscular structure on the inside of the body, while the vulva is on the outside, surrounding the vaginal opening.

Why you don't need to cleanse your vagina?

Many women, in an attempt to smell nice, try different methods of cleansing the inside of the vagina, starting with fancy, fragrant soaps to douching. It is important to know that there is no need for using external agents to cleanse the vagina, because it is capable of cleaning itself with the help of an internal lubricant secreted by your magical body. So, when you see any whitish vaginal discharge, don't be alarmed. In addition, you must remember that the vagina has an acidic environment inside, with a pH level of 3.8-4.5, which helps to maintain a microbiome of good bacteria in the body. When you use soaps inside, or even the home remedy products or douching, it can raise the pH level, causing infections to grow.

Vulvar cleansing:

Now, the vulva, which is on the outside, is more exposed to dirt. Because of the hair follicles, it also gets sweaty. So, this part of the body needs some basic cleansing. However, you must not use regular soap or body wash for the same. You must remember that the intimate area is special and hence, requires special care. The skin is more sensitive and is different from the rest of your body. This means that the regular soaps and cleansers that work for the rest of the body are not going to work for the vulvar region. They can turn out to be too harsh for the region, and eventually, they will cause irritation. If they enter the vaginal tube, they can cause pH imbalance.

Remember that using fragrant chemical products can eventually aggravate vaginal odour by causing infections. So, avoid using them. Just use warm water and proper cleansers for the vulva, and leave the vagina to cleanse itself on its own! To clean your vulva, if you have to pick a vaginal cleanser, choose one which is natural, lab-tested and unperfumed like Imbue Intimate Hygiene Foam.

Inspite of regularly following these intimate cleansing tips, if you think that the odour of your intimate parts has suddenly changed and become unpleasant or if there is a change in the nature of your vaginal discharge, visit a gynaecologist to figure out what the problem might be.