This article is in partnership with Summer’s Eve®.
You grow up with a vagina your whole life, you think you know everything about it. Surprise, betch. There’s a lot you don’t know about vaginas, and I say this as a card-carrying vagina owner who was legit surprised to speak with Dr. Sherry Ross, a leading OB-GYN, educator, and women’s health advocate, about how you should really be caring for your vagina.
1. You Need To Wash It
Before you come at me, yes, the vagina is self-cleaning—but that probably doesn’t mean what you think. Dr. Sherry likens it to a self-cleaning oven. “It’s the oven that’s self-cleaning,” she explains,” but “the countertop, the stovetop all need to be cleaned.” So if we’re talking about vaginas, the actual birth canal is self-cleaning, but all the exterior lady parts, like the vulva, need to get cleaned.
“The vulva area needs to be cleaned because it’s exposed to sweat, to blood, bacteria from your period,” she says. “All that really needs to be cleaned every day.”
2. You Need To Wash It Correctly
Okay so this actually blew my mind. Here I am, washing my business with my regular-ass soap for the past 27 years of my life (sorry TMI), when apparently, that’s not the move. “You don’t use the same bar of soap you use on your body, to wash your face with, right?” Dr. Sherry asks rhetorically. Nope. “Well, your vulva and vaginal opening also deserve special attention,” she asserts. Damn, ok. What else in my life has been a lie this entire time?
3. You Need To Use The Right Products
Your vagina has a specific pH range, and a change in pH can knock the whole ecosystem down there out of whack (speaking from experience as someone who’s gotten an infection multiple times because of this pH nonsense alone). Dr. Sherry backs me up in this, saying, “the pH balance of the vagina can be affected by anything from traditional soaps, laundry detergent, bubble baths,” and that if your pH-balance gets upset, “it can lead to infection and dryness.” That’s not ideal! Dr. Sherry works with and swears by Summer’s Eve®. “What I like about Summer’s Eve® is that they’ve created products and washes that are pH-balanced, they’ve been tested by the dermatologist, tested by the gynecologist, they’re free of dyes and parabens, and they are very gentle. They don’t disrupt the skin and they cleanse effectively and well.” While the brand has been creating what Dr. Sherry calls “vagina-friendly” products for years, they recently launched new Fragrance Free Cleansing Wash and Cloths that takes the guesswork out of cleansing and are balanced to a woman’s natural pH.
4. You Should Be Moisturizing It
*Record scratch* what? I need to moisturize my nether regions now? Apparently. Per Dr. Sherry: “It should be cleaned and we should be treating it like our face—cleaning it, hydrating it, and moisturizing it using different products.” Sh*t, okay. But it’s not as daunting as it sounds. You don’t have to go out and buy a specially formulated moisturizer or anything. “moisturizing the outside of the vagina with extra virgin coconut oil is a great way to trap in fluid, and it really hydrates the skin.” All you do is, according to Dr. Sherry, take a bath two or three times a week, then “put a handful of extra virgin coconut oil in the bathwater, and soak in it for 20 minutes.” She says it’s great for the skin all around and gentle enough for the vulva. Ok, that’s like, not hard.
5. You Should Not Be Putting Anything Sketchy Up There
We care a lot about our faces, right? And we don’t just go putting random stuff on there, right? If you’re a celebrity and do vampire facials, maybe this does not apply to you. But if you’re like the rest of us, you wouldn’t like, IDK, exfoliate with walnuts, would you? No, you care about what you’re putting on it. So do the same to your vag! Don’t put jade eggs up there or steam it with scalding vapors just because some celeb told you to. “Any of these products: pearls, sprinkles, whatever they may be, you really have to ask your doctor if you can insert anything because I think there are companies that are not making vagina-specific products that don’t use vag-friendly ingredients ,” says Dr. Sherry. “Some of these products that go inside the vagina and on the outside of the vagina can be very irritating and cause rashes and can be a problem,” she adds. Good thing Summer’s Eve® Cleansing Washes and Cloths are pH-balanced so as not to cause issues. Because that’s the last thing we need.
I know it’s stressful to consider that now we have another body part we need to be paying a sh*t ton of attention to, but it’s not like you need to start applying vagina serums, toners, exfoliators, etc. First of all, I don’t think those things even exist, but even if they do, you do not need them! Summer’s Eve ® products make it super easy to keep everything clean and operating down there, from cleansing washes to wipes you can take on the go.
Images: Anderson W Rangel / Unsplash