Hygiene: vaginal hygiene

Good hygiene is important for you and your clients. Here are some tips.

Vaginal hygiene

A healthy vagina contains a balance of "good" and "bad" bacteria that together suppress harmful viruses, bacteria and fungi. The good bacteria produce lactic acid that is necessary to make the vagina acidic (and prevent infections). If the acidity or PH-level is disturbed, the vagina becomes more susceptible to bad bacteria. 

Factors that could affect the vagina's acidity are:

  • Hormonal changes during menstruation, pregnancy and menopause.

Change your tampon, sponge or sanitary towel every four to six hours. Preferably do not wear pantyliners once your period has ended. You are more likely to develop a yeast infection.

Use a sponge not more than once during your period and leave it inside of your vagina for max. 8 hours. Don't insert natural or household sponges! It's not hygienic. Small bits of these type of sponges can remain in the vagina and cause inflammation. When using a sponge, you should apply more lubricant than usual during sex, because some of it is absorbed by the sponge.

  • Some medicines disrupt the balance of good bacteria in the vagina (e.g. antibiotics or gynaecological suppositories).
  • Condom use: the rubber of a condom can irritate the vaginal mucosa and disrupt the vaginal flora.
  • Avoid synthetic or tight-fitting underwear.

Don't wear your clothes too tight. It causes friction, prevents aeration and gives bacteria the chance to multiply more rapidly. Wear cotton instead of synthetic underwear. Don't wear wet clothes. Humidity tends to promote bacterial growth.

Put on clean underwear every day.

  • Semen in the vagina can change your vaginal pH level.
  • Tobacco.
  • A visit to swimming pools and saunas.
  • An IUD contains a hormone that affects the vaginal flora.
  • Stress and fatigue.
  • Plain and perfumed soaps or shower gels.

Preferably use water to wash the area around your vagina.

  • Vaginal douches: use products such as gynaecological Isobetadine, Dettol, etc., only if you have an infection. Preventive douching can interfere with the vaginal PH-level, damage the vaginal lining and disrupt the vaginal flora. A healthy vagina cleans itself.
  • Too much or too little intimate hygiene.

Wash the area around your vagina with lukewarm water. You don’t need to wash your vagina after every client[KW1] .

Preferably use your hand to wash your vagina and avoid wash cloths! They are an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive. If you do use washcloths, replace them after every use.

Clean your vagina, wiping from front to back (from vagina to anus). Pat your vagina dry, instead of rubbing.

Different vaginal hygiene rules apply to transgender sex workers who underwent a full transition surgery:

  • Rinse your vagina once a week or follow the instructions that apply to you personally. If you are unsure about the care of your new vagina, please contact your gender team or your GP.
  • There are many sebaceous glands in the skin of the neo-vagina. Sebum can accumulate and provoke symptoms deep in the neo-vagina. Rinse more often if you suffer from strong vaginal odour.
  • Do not use scented products, rinse only with water.
  • After rinsing, apply some oil or calendula cream into the vagina to prevent dryness and the labia sticking together (labial adhesion). A hormone cream is even better because it also stimulates blood circulation.

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