Women, our vaginas are capable of incredible things. It can not only cleanse through natural secretions and discharge but also protect itself from infections. However, even though it is in attention mode all the time, our lady part may sometimes need our help, especially during the summer season. According to Dr Mukesh Gupta, obstetrician and gynaecologist, Le Nest Hospital Malad, Mumbai, due to the hot weather, women are at risk of developing infections, and these can be fungal, yeast or bacterial.
“Excessive sweating can affect the internal as well as the external pH of the vagina, making it more prone to infections. This imbalance can impact the good bacteria, which help maintain the acidic level of the vagina, thus causing increased growth of bad bacteria,” he further explains. Too much heat can also increase susceptibility to dryness, inflammation, rashes, or other skin issues.
Here, Dr Gupta shares insights on intimate hygiene mistakes women must avoid making during summers.
Avoid lacy, silk, and satin fabrics
Choose breathable and comfortable undergarments over silk and synthetic fabrics like polyester and lace during the summer season. “Cotton can be your best bet since it keeps the area dry by soaking up the sweat and improving air circulation,” he informs. Apart from this, the expert advises avoiding staying in wet clothing for long because it may become a breeding ground for infections.
Clean but don’t overdo it
Heat and sweat in the intimate area can cause discomfort, and even aggravate it. But that doesn’t mean you overdo the cleaning bit. Sure, the market is brimming with a host of feminine hygiene products such as washes, deo sprays and powders, but you must be smart and not fall for marketing gimmicks and promotions.
The pH balance of the vagina is responsible for good flora. The normal vaginal pH ranges between 3.8 to 4.5 – any product that doesn’t disturb this balance is safe to use. Stressing the importance of making informed choices, Dr Gupta shares, “If you choose to use intimate washes, deo sprays and powders, do look out for the chemicals and harsh ingredients present, then take a call. Powder combined with sweat forms an uncomfortable paste. Powders used by females are associated with ovarian cancers due to talc.” He suggests picking natural products over deodorised ones since they can dry out the skin and disrupt the microflora.
Another important point to note here is, that the use of any cleansing product/intimate wash must be limited to external use only. They are not cleaning your lady part from inside – that your vagina can do for itself. Pick a mild cleanser with a neutral pH is the best option.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
The importance of water in our lives can’t be emphasised enough. Drinking plenty of water not only helps your body beat the scorching summer heat from inside out but also flushes out toxins and any infection. However, avoid sugary drinks, caffeine, and colas. Your best bet could be plain or infused water and fruit/vegetable juices.
Say no to douching
Reiterating his previous point and a natural fact, the expert says, “The vagina is a self-cleaning organ and doesn’t require any additional cleaning. Interrupting that natural process with douching can cause inflammation of the internal organs and disturb the good bacteria presence.” Rinsing of the vagina may disturb the pH balance and that’s like an open invitation to infections and several other health problems.
Rethink that bikini wax
Sure, grooming is a personal choice, and many women prefer shaving pubic hair, especially during summer since it calls for pool time and time at the beach. “But one needs to understand that pubic hair safeguards you from infection, trap harmful bacteria and prevents them from penetrating the skin,” informs Dr Gupta. However, if you still decide to go ahead and get rid of this hair, do note that the skin down there is sensitive. In the case of a bikini wax, ensure you go to a professional and that the wax isn’t too hot because it may cause boils and abscesses. In case of shaving, ensure that it is a non-rusted and new blade to avoid bruises and cuts, which may also lead to infection.
For those considering trimming, using a pair of scissors or an electric trimmer is okay. If not, you can opt for sensitive depilatory creams too.
“Stay natural as much as possible, keep away from unnecessary products, and don’t get fascinated by advertisements that claim otherwise,” Dr Gupta concludes.