Use your hands and warm water to wash the vulva. If you use soap, make sure it’s unscented. Pat dry with a clean towel.
The vulva consists of the external genital organs of the female body. They include the labia majora (outer lips) and labia minora (inner lips), the clitoris and the urethra and vagina openings. Vulvas come in all shapes, forms and colours. Everyone’s genitals are unique.
The vulva has a sexual function. These external organs are rich in nerve endings and can provide pleasure when properly stimulated.
The vagina is part of the internal sexual and reproductive organs of the female body. It is a tunnel of muscle that extends from the vulva to the uterus. Vaginas are different widths and lengths from person to person and extend when aroused. The vagina facilitates sexual intercourse and childbirth as well as the passing of blood during menstruation.
The majority of the vaginal nerve endings are found near the entrance, making it more sensitive to touch than the inner part.
Everyday habits can make a big difference in our level of genital health and comfort. This section provides you with general tips for maintaining a healthy vulva and vagina.
Vulvas and vaginas can become irritated because of what we do, wear, or the products we use. Vaginal infections occur when organisms like bacteria or funguses grow uncontrolled, or are introduced into the vagina because of improper hygiene or sexual activity.
Use white and unscented toilet paper to wipe. Avoid using baby wipes, personal wipes, douches, sprays, bubble baths, perfumes, or other scented hygiene products.
Don’t douche. It can upset the balance of bacteria inside of the vagina which can lead to increased risks of yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis. It’s best to let the vagina clean itself which occurs naturally when it makes mucous. Healthy, clean vaginas may have a mild odor
It’s good to wear white, breathable 100% cotton underwear as often as possible. Keep nylon, girdles, pantyhose and thongs for special occasions.
Use gentle laundry detergent. Change underwear regularly and change out of a wet bathing suit or workout clothes promptly.
Use a menstrual cup or 100% cotton menstrual pads and tampons during menstruation. Wash your hands before and after changing or inserting them.
If you use a menstrual cup, it’s important to take good care of it. Before inserting and removing it, wash your cup with warm water and a mild, unscented, water-based (oil-free) soap. Remember to empty and wash your cup at least twice a day, a minimum of every 12 hours. If you are unable to wash your cup after removal (i.e. if you are in a public restroom), use a dry tissue to wipe it down. Then, clean it thoroughly the next time you have a chance. A the end of your cycle, boil your cup in plenty of water for about ten minutes.
Beginning at the age of 25, you should get regular Pap tests if you are or have been sexually active, regardless of your sexual partner(s) sex. It is recommended to get a Pap test every three years unless your health care provider says otherwise. Up to 90% of cervical cancers are preventable with regular screening tests and appropriate follow-up care.
Avoid scratching if the vulva is red, swollen and/or irritated. It can make it worse.
See a health care provider if there is a bump, a sore, an itch or any change in the normal fluids coming out of the vagina. It is important to make STI testing a regular part of your health care routine.
Using an unscented water-based lubricant may be helpful during sex, especially for people who are postmenopausal. It is important to avoid oils or oil-based lubricants like petroleum jelly with condoms. It can weaken them to the point of breaking.
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