Dr Kamini Rao, Pioneer Of Assisted Reproductive Technology, Answers Questions Every Woman Has Wanted To Ask
Dr Kamini Rao, Medical Director, Milann, The Fertility Center, answers all the questions that you were too scared, worried, or embarrassed to ask.
Is it okay to wash your genitals with soap?
The vagina is self-cleaning, as vaginal discharge cleans out dirt and dead cells. The vagina is also acidic, so it kills harmful bacteria, while allowing healthy bacteria to thrive. Using soap or any lathering substance to wash your genitals may cause dryness, general irritation, or infection. Hence, it is advised that you only wash or rinse your private parts while taking a bath. It should be kept in mind that while washing, you should avoid using very hot water, and go with lukewarm or room temperature water.
What is the right way to keep the vagina clean?
The following measures will help you stay hygienic:
- Washing the vaginal area with lukewarm water is necessary.
- If you use soap, avoid soaps with heavy perfumes as they may irritate the sensitive vaginal skin.
- Always scrub around your bikini line.
- Do not use lacy undergarments or those made from non-breathable fabrics, at least on a regular basis.
- Use cotton undergarments which are not too tight, so as to enable the easy circulation of air.
- Changing your undergarments twice a day is very healthy.
How should hygiene be maintained while a woman is on her period?
- Changing your sanitary towel once every 6 hours is important, while for a tampon, a change should be effected once every 2 hours.
- Regular hygiene in day-to-day activities like bathing, using clean and dry undergarments etc. is imperative.
- As mentioned earlier, female genital areas are extremely sensitive. Washing your vagina and labia (the projecting part of female genitals) well before you change into a new pad is advised as a regular practice. However, if you cannot wash yourself before you change, make sure to wipe off the areas well using toilet paper or tissue.
- Stay dry during your periods. Change your pads regularly, and take extra care to stay dry if you have rashes. Apply an antiseptic cream after a bath and before bed – this will heal the rash and prevent further chafing.
Is it safe and/or required to shave or trim one's pubic hair? How can genital hygiene and health be maintained?
Removing pubic hair is a personal preference. It is recommended to always keep your pubic hair short, and to not remove it completely as the hair protects bacteria from entering the genitals. Avoid using a razor on your private parts; well-cleaned and dry scissors can be used instead, to trim your pubic hair. It is also advised that you avoid scrubbing your vagina; clean it gently. Having nutritious, protein-rich food is also important. Women also need to exercise for at least 20-30 minutes every day for a healthy lifestyle. Good immunity is key to protection from any infection.
Are Brazilian waxes (where pubic hair is waxed off from the abdomen, labia majora, vulva, and anal area) safe? What could go wrong?
Every organ in the body is created for a reason, and has its own function to perform in the system. Waxing or removing pubic hair completely is definitely not advisable, as pubic hair acts as protection for the vagina in various ways. Using razors can often lead to irritation, inflammation, and infection, especially if one has a weakened immune system. The texture of the skin in the genital area is very delicate, and when compared to other areas of the body, it’s more prone to swelling and infection. Any woman who is pregnant or suffers from diabetes should avoid Brazilian waxes, as these conditions make one more prone to infection.