Why Feminine Hygiene & Care Matters – Especially in the Summer!
Is there such a thing as a summer feminine care? As the temperature “heat dome” continues with numbers in the 100’s consistently this past week in Los Angeles, I know my entire body is hot and bothered – especially down there.
Did you know the vagina a ton of sweat glands? It’s no wonder that you may feel uncomfortable in the heat! The #SummerVagina is real and you need to be aware that the sensitive skin of the V is more noticeable in the heat and activities of summer that don’t take place in other seasons. For example, pools (chemical), oceans (trash and bacteria), exercising more often to get in better beach body shape (running, spinning, lifting) , grooming more frequently (waxing, shaving, lasering), wearing wet bathing suits often and frequently, makes the skin of the vulva drier which may lead to itching and burning and a vaginal infection.
The #SummerVagina brings attention to two very key issues as it relates to this very important part of our body. First, the vagina needs special daily care, maintenance and attention similar to the way we care of our face every day. And secondly, seasonal weather changes affect the skin on our body, including the skin of the vulva and vagina.
Let’s first get the anatomy correct as it relates to what most women refer to as the “vagina”. Women use the word “vagina” to mean anything down south. When women are talking about their “vagina” they are mistakably including the vulva which includes the labia majora and labia minora. You must get to know your vulva and vagina, up close and personal. Medically speaking the vagina is only the inside and the outside is the vulva-labia majora and minora, as well as a few other parts. Most women call all of this the “vagina” and don’t separate the two areas. What women call vagina actually includes the vulva, labia-majora (outer lips) and labia minora (inner lips), the opening to the vagina is called the introitus, the inner vagina, the urethra (small opening leading to the bladder), the clitoris and the protective hood of the clitoris. The inside of the vagina, where tampons go, is a temperamental and ultra-sensitive area. My first and foremost advice to women is to get to know your lady parts, know what your “normal” is so you will know when a potential problem arises. If you have not done so already, pull out the mirror and get to know your vagina, your vaginal health depends on it.
Another source of confusion is “what are the areas of the vulva and vagina that need to be cleaned every day?” The external area – the vulva, clitoris and opening of the vagina to be exact – needs to be washed every day with a vagina-friendly wash. The inside of the vagina has a self-cleaning function with the natural white discharge that removes unwanted bacteria similar to what tears do for our eyes.
During the summer the skin on the vulva may be prone to more dryness from the heat, pool chemicals or more pubic hair grooming. Skin dryness involving any part of your body is uncomfortable and annoying, especially when it comes to the sensitive skin of the vulva. Persistent vulvar dryness can cause itching, burning, pain and create emotional and physical disruptions in your everyday activities.
Now for the most important step – washing! I always ask women – would you use the same bar of soap that you use to clean your feet, armpits etc. to clean your face? Probably not. The vagina is very much like your face – you need a special wash and routine to feel fresh and properly cleanse the area.. So I have been recommending Summer’s Eve’s Cleansing Wash for over a decade. It’s gentle, balanced to a woman’s pH and works to remove odor-causing bacteria, without leaving any unwanted residue like body washes. What do I also love about Summer’s Eve? They have the most convenient Cleansing Cloths that can be used on-the-go when you can’t shower like after a work-out, before getting intimate with your partner or just on a hot summer day! Regardless of the season, this is a feminine ritual that you should not ignore.
Keeping the vulva clean and moisturized all year round is a must, especially in seasons that increase skin dryness. If you are prone to vulvar dryness, I recommend a handful of extra virgin coconut oil (EVCO) in a warm water bath for 20 minutes 4 to 5 times a week. The moisturizing effect of EVCO locks in hydration and prevents dryness of the vulva in a natural way. The #Summer Vagina is basically a metaphor for women needing to care and maintain the delicate skin of the vulva and pH balance of the vagina all year round, especially during seasonal temperature changes. Just like certain products can disrupt the vulva and vagina so can the heat of summer and cold of winter. Continue to pay attention ladies, your vulva and vagina count on it!