A lot of feminine wash brands have appeared and made available in store shelves. It comes in different bottle designs and scents. Most of them also claim to prevent vaginal infections and getting smelly “down there”.
On the other hand, some even advocate douching using feminine wash for a better vaginal health. Despite of the different options, they offer a common purpose of keeping the women’s lady parts feeling clean and fresh every time. For starters, feminine wash brands are usually made from a mix of water, vinegar, iodine, and some fragrance.
While these ingredients seem to be natural and harmless, the question is whether feminine wash is safe for everyday use? Moreover, the better question would be – should you use feminine wash per se? Also, are there other alternatives you can use for your vaginal cleaning aside from feminine wash?
The evolution of feminine hygiene products
For women, it is important to feel and smell clean and fresh especially in the private area. Somehow, the women of today are fortunate to live in a world where feminine hygiene products are readily accessible in nearby supermarkets and drug stores.
Of course, there are still many countries around the world that do not have easy access to proper feminine hygiene. However, the importance of proper hygiene is slowly paving its way to these countries, thanks to several individuals who are currently making a difference about this women’s issue.
Unlike today, maintaining a proper hygiene among women back then was even more difficult. Before feminine hygiene products were invented, women had to use old rags and other odd methods during their monthly periods. Women back then were even subjected to discrimination while their menstrual cycles were ongoing.
Centuries later began the development of feminine hygiene products. These included napkins, tampons, “douche powders”, and feminine wash. Gone were the days where women had to wash their “menstrual rags” every time, only to be reused again after a month. Also, women became safer against infections due to unhealthy hygienic practices.
As a result, many women all over the world enjoy the benefits of having these products within their reach. On the contrary, a lot of women and girls in some parts of the world do not have the privilege of proper feminine care. But surely one day, they will.
The power of feminine wash
As mentioned, feminine wash were invented to cater to women’s hygienic needs. Most feminine wash are marketed to make women “feel clean and fresh” especially in their vaginal area. Because of this promise, most women use this product as part of their feminine hygiene routine.
It is said that the feminine hygiene industry is worth around $15 billion annually – and is still growing. Most feminine hygiene products target young women, promoting self-confidence and “girl power”.
Hence, it is often perceived that using feminine wash – or any feminine hygiene products for that matter – are not luxury, but rather a necessity for all women. After all, who wants to smell “fishy” and unpleasant “down there”?
So the main question still remains: “Is using feminine wash necessary?” Dr. Greg Alvior, a Philippine-based OB-GYN and chairman of the Philippine General Hospital Medical Foundation, Inc. (PGHMFI) says it depends on the feminine wash.
To use or not to use?
According to Dr. Alvior, not all feminine wash are created the same. He adds that some feminine hygiene brands contain strong amounts of antiseptics that may cause infection if used frequently, due to resistant bacteria and fungi. What’s worse is that traditional treatment may not help manage said infection.
Dr. Alvior also mentioned that by using feminine wash, not only bad bacteria can be killed but also the good ones – the latter of which are supposed to be beneficial for vaginal health. Good bacteria balance vagina’s acidity level and also prevent infections in that sensitive body area. The more you use such feminine wash, the more you may be prone to vaginal infections.
On the other hand, Dr. Alvior says there are feminine wash brands that are milder and safer to use. Nevertheless, he suggests not using feminine wash frequently, especially scented ones, to avoid potential risk of vaginal infections.
Using specific feminine wash brands may be necessary or as prescribed by the doctor, but make sure to follow the duration of the usage to avoid further side effects.
Furthermore, scented feminine wash may contain harmful chemicals that may cause allergies, may wreck havoc with your hormones, and may even cause cancer.
Is vaginal douching necessary?
Dr. Alvior mentions another method of cleaning the vaginal area, which is “douching”. A lot of women do this to clean their vaginas thoroughly. Some even douche using feminine wash apparently for “better” results.
However, a lot of doctors warn about the potential dangers of douching. For one, it may cause the bacteria to move further into the vaginal canal and uterus, which heightens the risk of infection. Whether you decide to do this or not, it is still best to consult a doctor first to know its potential health risks and consequences.
Using feminine wash and douching especially if you’re pregnant (or trying to be pregnant) is also a no-no. The US Department of Health and Human Services reports that douching can affect your pregnancy as well as put you at risk for vaginal infections.
Inserting any object in your vaginal area is also a bad idea. It may cause infections or even lead to toxic shock syndrome that can cause death. The so-called “vaginal steaming” as popularized by Hollywood celebrities Chrissie Teigen and Gwyneth Paltrow is not recommended by doctors either.
Dr. Alvior does not really prevent women to use feminine wash – as long as it is not used frequently. For daily hygienic maintenance, Dr. Alvior recommends choosing unscented and milder feminine wash brands.
Likewise, using a hypoallergenic and unscented soap and water to clean your vaginal area is also doctor-approved for daily use. After washing, pat dry your private area – never, ever rub it especially with a towel which you also most likely use on other parts of your body.
Most of all, it is important to know that the vagina has the ability to “clean” itself. It contains a membrane with a mix of the so-called “vaginal flora” that keeps the vagina clean and healthy. It secretes fluid which can help determine the state of your vaginal health. Any secretions that smell off, has color other than clear, or a feeling of pain down there should prompt you to consult an OB-GYN immediately.
Other safer ways to maintain your vaginal health include:
Your body, your rules
At the end of the day, it is still your choice whether to use a feminine wash or similar products, or not. However, it is important to consider the pros and cons of using such products to prevent potential health risks in the future.
Choose only products that are safe to use and make it a habit to check the label carefully before using it. More importantly, it is advisable to consult a reliable OB-GYN for proper feminine hygiene care.