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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Skip the intimate wash and rather prioritise good hygiene habits

Using scented products to wash intimate parts is a common practice among women, despite warnings from doctors against doing so.

While the reasons behind this behaviour are varied and complex, several factors contribute to the use of scented products for intimate hygiene.

Many believe that by using intimate and scented products, one will be cleaner and fresh, even thinking that they will mask the vaginal odour.

Intimate washes, also known as feminine washes, are products designed to clean the external genital area. These products have become increasingly popular in recent years, with many women using them as part of their daily hygiene routine. However, the safety of intimate washes has been a topic of debate among health professionals and consumers alike.

According to experts, the first step for women should be to use proper hygiene by washing their external genital area with gentle soap and water, wearing breathable underwear, and avoiding harsh products like douching. Picture: Jakayla Toney / Unsplash

While there is limited scientific research on the safety of intimate washes, some studies have suggested that they may have negative effects on vaginal health. For example, a study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada found that the use of intimate washes was associated with an increased risk of bacterial vaginosis, a common vaginal infection.

Another study published in the Journal of Women’s Health found that the use of intimate washes was associated with an increased risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs). The study found that women who used intimate washes were more likely to experience recurrent UTIs than those who did not use these products.

Despite these findings, some health professionals argue that the use of intimate washes is safe when used correctly.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, women should avoid using scented products in the vaginal area, as these can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria and increase the risk of infection. Instead, women should use mild, fragrance-free products to clean the external genital area.

There is limited research on the prevalence of bacterial infections caused by intimate washes in South Africa specifically.

However, a study conducted here in SA found that many women lacked knowledge about common vaginal infections and did not seek medical treatment when experiencing symptoms. The study also found that many women relied on traditional remedies and self-medication, rather than seeking medical advice.

This revealed a lack of awareness and education about sexual health, including the use of intimate washes. It is possible that many women are unaware of the risks associated with these products and don’t know how to care for their vaginal health properly.

The safety of intimate washes is a topic of debate among health professionals and consumers. While some studies have suggested that these products may have negative effects on vaginal health, others argue that they are safe when used correctly.

From a wellness and lifestyle perspective, it is important for women to be informed about the products they use on their bodies and to prioritise overall vaginal health through good hygiene practices.

Furthermore, the stigma associated with discussing sexual health in many cultures, makes it difficult for women to seek information and advice about their vaginal health.

In general, there is a need for more information and understanding about sexual health, as well as the possible dangers of using intimate wash products.

According to experts, the first step for women should be to use proper hygiene by washing their external genital area with gentle soap and water, wearing breathable underwear, and avoiding harsh products like douching.

If you happen to exhibit signs of a bacterial infection or other vaginal health problems, consult a doctor.

Read the latest issue of IOL Health digital magazine here.

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