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Dear @cyclesandsex,

How can I properly clean my labia/vulva?




Dear #issoapdope?

I have great news for you: your vagina itself is a self-cleaning oven. So, no soap inside your vagina is needed and, in fact, soaps and “vaginal cleansers” actually disrupt the good bacteria (or flora) that we want in our vaginal environments. When our bacterial balance is off, we get itchy and burning sensations, and it’s just bad!

That being said, folks are often concerned about getting sweaty during the day, or rinsing menstrual blood, and cleaning the outside of their vulvas. Water always works well for the labia and vulva and protects that excellent bacterial environment. If you’re feeling extra sweaty, a little gentle soap (preferably unscented) on the outside is okay. You don’t need to do it every day - just water for a rinse.

Speaking of that good bacteria or “flora” as we call it, another way to make sure you stay in balance is to avoid plastic-backed pads or pantyliners, wear cotton underwear that breathes, and sleep without anything at all from time to time.

Another pro tip: always avoid anything that is for sale in the vaginal cleansers aisle. Studies have proven these products actually make your situation down there worse! Additionally, douching has been clinically proven to be harmful to healthy vaginal flora, causing an imbalance and annoying symptoms. If you have itching and odor that doesn’t lessen with a shower or makes you feel self-conscious, go ahead and call your midwife or doctor and arrange a visit.


Tanya Wills

Certified Nurse-Midwife, Women's Healthcare Nurse Practitioner and owner/founder of Manhattan Birth - a pregnancy care center.

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