We’ve all seen the commercials for different feminine wash brands. Each one displays positive outcomes for women who are looking for a way to keep themselves feeling more fresh, clean, and confident. Washes also are said to promote healthy pH levels and control embarrassing odor.
However, not everyone agrees on the beneficial nature of these products, including gynecologists and OB/GYN physicians.
Why the Vagina is Different
Infections take place when harmful bacteria or chemicals find ways into our bodies. And what is the vagina if not an opening into a woman’s internal systems? When a woman uses commercial feminine washes or general care products (tampons, pads, etc.) she is potentially bringing those harmful chemicals directly into contact with her internal workings.
Because of this, washing the vagina should be much different than washing other, skin-covered parts of the body. The vagina is designed to naturally keep itself clean by the use of its own discharges and the helpful bacteria it houses. The bacteria not only helps clean, but also helps manage high pH levels and other disturbances the vagina may encounter.
Effects of Commercial Products
Feminine washes and other commercial products often contain unnatural chemicals that, when exposed to the inside of the vagina, have the potential to disrupt the natural bacteria that is found there. To keep itself in check, the vagina must remain acidic (a low pH level) in order to properly ward off infections – and this is kept in check by good bacteria. The harmful chemicals in washes kill both good and bad bacteria which has the potential to raise the risk of infection in the long run.
What You Can Do
Washing the genital area is best done with warm water or natural, mild soaps that do not contain any perfume additives or strange chemicals that may upset the natural pH balance. Be sure to check labels on any products you may be using and consult a professional if you are unsure of the effects these products may be having on your body.
Experts also highly recommend that women avoid douching, as it also disrupts the pH balance in the vagina. Read our recent article to learn more about the dangers of douching.
Using commercial products is a personal choice. However, if problems or questions arise, the team of compassionate gynecologists at All About Women is always available for you. Contact us to talk about your health concerns or schedule a yearly well woman exam to help regularly ensure your feminine health is intact.