Should you be using feminine hygiene products?
Is your vagina supposed to have its own skincare routine? The answer might be yes, given the recent rise of intimate beauty brands like local beauty brand Two L(i)ps, and the popularity of so-called feminine hygiene products—think vaginal washes, wipes and shaving gels.
But we could end up doing more harm than good to our lady parts with products that may not even be necessary in the first place.
So, are feminine hygiene products necessary?
“Generally speaking, feminine hygiene products are not necessary,” says Dr Rachel Chan, a family doctor and the Deputy Physician Manager at telemedicine service WhiteCoat. “The vagina is a self-cleaning organ, and the vulva can be cleaned sufficiently with warm water. Of course, some people might prefer to clean the area using feminine hygiene products.”
“As a rule of thumb, avoid products that include ingredients such as synthetic fragrances and parabens. These are known to cause irritation.”
“Always look for products that have been approved for sale and use, and if irritation occurs, seek medical advice from your doctor.”
When we brought up vaginal douching, Dr Rachel emphasised that it is definitely not recommended, since the vagina is a delicate area with a specific pH that is regulated by its natural bacterias. “Douching upsets this balance, which may cause an overgrowth of harmful bacteria, altering the normal pH of the vagina. It is associated with an increased risk of developing vaginal infections and sexually transmitted infections, which is why it should be avoided.”
As far as panty liners go, she says this depends on the individual. “If you do not experience irritation from friction caused by the fabric of the liners against your labia, I would say it is generally safe for use.”
That being said, Dr Rachel stresses that the vagina and vulva can naturally protect themselves.
“Warm water, and if necessary, very mild soap, are all that are needed to clean your intimate areas. Make sure to wear undergarments that promote breathability. If you experience anomalies such as strong odours or even pain, please seek professional medical advice.”