Vaginal Clean Up


When working in the field of sexual and reproductive health, especially within HIV, you become aware of certain dynamics in terms of your own and other people’s lack of awareness on body hygiene. Growing up, I was taught to wash my vagina with soap. While conducting my master’s practicum in South Africa, and reading over surveys submitted to teens as part of the HIV research study that I was conducting, I realized how mislead I have been my whole life.


It was during my placement in South Africa that I became aware of the high rate of yeast infection, because I was in charge of conducting statistical analyses of clinical testings from adolescents study participants. Having yeast infection is not necessarily a reflection of being dirty ‘down there’, some people (women especially) develop an exacerbated counts of bacteria in their vaginal area. With some prescribed cream, it easily goes away. If not treated, it can be transmitted to a partner. And yes, men too get yeast infection. However, due to the vagina being so moist in temperature, it is  the ideal host for yeast and other infections to grow at a quicker rate than that of a penis.


My journey in HIV adolescent health research, lead me to consulting the expertise of a gynecologist. Washing a vagina simply includes using water over your genitalia. If you have a shower with what I like to call ‘telephone’ water sprinkler, it is even better and easier to your vagina. Men, because their penis is an external organ, it is 100 times easier to wash it. That is why, I find it concerning and unacceptable when I hear stories about men with smelly penises, you have no excuse but to keep it clean (just saying).


To avoid any abnormal bacterial growth or infections, wearing cotton underwears are best. I am not getting sponsored by Calvin Klein, but I am a huge advocate for the calvin klein underwear. They are comfortable, good for you down there, and they look cute.


While my work in HIV and sexual health has largely been focused on low-to-middle income countries, the lack of awareness and knowledge for sexual health is worldwide. So before you go on saying ‘People in Canada and the US should know better on how to take care of their vaginas and penises, LIES!’.


To sum it up, simply apply water to your vaginal area when showering. Here are the things that you should not do to cleanse your vaginal area:

  • Your vagina is self cleaning, like a liver. It does it all on its own. If you MUST clean it, use gentle hypoallergenic soap, and warm water.
  • Do not use rocks or douching, it will upset the natural bacteria.
  • It is normal to fluctuate discharge, it has to do with ovulation.
  • If your discharge is heavier than normal, and stays heavy and it very smelly (fishy), then may be get checked for bacterial vaginosis (BV).

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