7 Things You’ve Wondered About Your Vagina, But Never Asked

Photo by Sam Edwards
Two experts spill the details on a topic we're too embarrassed to speak up about.

We all have some thoughts about our feminine area that we are too timid to share, but it’s time to break that barrier. Let’s get real about how to get our vaginas living their best lives. Instead of trying to debunk the most common myths ourselves, we went straight to the experts for answers we can trust. Take notes! 

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Feminine Washes Are Like Douching
Although a douche is considered a feminine care product; there are many other types of products that are considered feminine care products that are not douches. Douches are used internally—to rinse the vagina. Most other feminine care products are used in the external vaginal area, such as washes, wipes and sprays. These products are specially formulated to cleanse and freshen the feminine area of a women’s body. Try Summer’s Eve Island Splash Cleansing Wash ($8, walmart.com) — Cindy Minnix, Research & Development Expert at Summer’s Eve

I Need Real Soap, Water Is Just Not Good Enough
Actually false on two counts. First, your vagina does not need real soap. Most people don’t realize there is a big difference between bar soap (made with tallow/lard/oils/lye)—like your great-grandma made on the farm—compared to liquid cleansers or beauty bars. Soap has a pH that is higher than neutral and can be irritating to the vaginal area. If you have a bar of real soap in your shower and like it, use it on your body but keep it away from your vaginal area.

Water alone typically doesn’t give the fresh, clean feeling we want down there. The reason is simple. The greatest concentration of sweat glands exists in the vaginal area. Sweat alone doesn’t cause odor, but when it interacts with bacteria that is naturally present in our skin it begins to generate odors. Using cleansers that are specially formulated to be extra-mild, pH balanced and clean rinsing can give women the freshness they desire—by removing odor causing bacteria that can build up—beyond what water alone can do. — Minnix

My Discharge Makes Me Think Something Is Wrong
Vaginal discharge serves an important function in the female system and most of the time is perfectly normal. It can vary for a variety of reasons. If there is a change in the vagina’s balance of good bacteria abnormal discharge can start and that is when you want to talk to your doctor. — Minnix

I’m Just Not Feeling The Odor From Down There

The vagina has a distinct odor and is unique for each woman. The odor is due to the presence of sweat glands and changes according to levels of physical activity, day of their menstrual cycle, and sometimes even what types of foods are consumed. When the odor changes and becomes foul or increases in intensity this could be caused by: Hormonal imbalances Changes in lifestyle (puberty, menopause, pregnancy); Sexually transmitted diseases; Improper personal hygiene (or excessive hygiene); Diseases such as diabetes or use of certain medications. — Dr. Jessica Shepherd, OBGYN

Is Yeast Something I Need to Steer Clear From To Avoid Infection?
Infections in the vagina occur when there are changes in the pH in the vagina that allow overgrowth of fungus or bacteria.  A "yeast infection” is a common infection that occurs when there is overgrowth of the yeast called Candida. When an imbalance occurs, such as when the normal acidity of the vagina changes or when hormonal balance changes candida can multiply. When that happens, symptoms of candidiasis may appear and cause a discharge and irritation. Use products that are formulated with the right pH and non-irritating ingredients for this area like SweetSpot Vanilla Blossom On-The-Go Wipes ($8, target.com). — Shepherd

Is Showering After Sex Completely Necessary?
Showering after vaginal intercourse can help with hygiene however it cannot decrease the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.  In addition, douching or using harsh soaps down there can increase vaginal infections such as bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections and even sexually transmitted infections. The use of these harsh products when cleansing and also douching can increase the risk of bacterial vaginosis.— Shepherd

Is Pubic Hair A Must?
Pubic hair is there for a reason and provides a cushion against friction. It also helps keep bacteria from entering the vagina and causing any vaginal or urinary infections. So feel free to keep the hair and not feel pressured to remove hair from your pelvic region. If you do choose to groom pubic hair, use a mild pH balanced cleanser to soften the skin and hair follicles in order to prep for a safe wax or shave. — Shepherd

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