No one ever taught me the dos and don'ts of feminine care. Health class in middle school just went over the basics, like here's a tampon and a pad, choose what's best for you. I was left figuring out the rest from there. After more than 10 years, It turns out that I still make a lot of feminine hygiene mistakes most women don't realize they're making. Looking back now, I wish someone would have told me about these mistakes because knowing and recognizing some of these mistakes could've prevented more than one unwanted complication.
From knowing how hard — or not — to wipe yourself after going to the bathroom, to staying in your swimsuit for way too long, or using the wrong kind of soap, there are plenty of common hygiene mistakes that women make on the regular just because we're not aware of the repercussions, many of which can result in the dreaded UTI. The National Center for Health and Statistics showed that UTIs account for 8.1 million visits to the doctor every year — a statistic that's even more common for pregnant women. Knowing and recognizing some of these mistakes could prevent a trip to the doc and that uncomfortable, agonizing stinging associated with UTIs. You could also prevent bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, vaginal cysts, and other nasty complications that no person wants to go through.
Here are 11 feminine hygiene mistakes most women don't realize they're making but should because a healthy hoo ha is a happy one.
1. You're Cleaning Your Vaginal Cup Wrong
If you opt for reusable vaginal cups when menstruating, the type of soap you use on the silicone material is important. Oil-based soaps can degrade the silicone over time, and scented soaps can cause irritation. MCA Online says to opt for a mild soap for sensitive skin or for babies when cleaning.
2. You're Wiping Too Hard
It's been pretty widely written that you should wipe from front to back to prevent fecal matter getting into your vagina. But did you know that you could be wiping too hard? According to Women's Health, you should be wiping firmly but not pressing or rubbing too hard. Doing that can cause small cuts in your anal and vaginal area. Ouch.
3. You Don't Clean Up After Sex
Women's health expert and author of She-ology, Dr.Sherry A. Ross told Bustle that cleaning yourself after sex can prevent infections, reduce the chances of getting yeast infections, and prevent vaginal cysts from forming—which are painful beasts to lance and drain. If you can't hop in the shower after sex, then feminine hygiene wipes, a good staple to keep in your purse, are another great option.
4. You're Panties Are Too Tight
... or your skinny jeans. According to Women's Health, wearing tightly fitting undergarments or pants can increase your risks of bacterial vaginosis, a common bacterial infection that causes discharge and a "fishy" smelling vagina.
Also, according to Medical Daily, wearing non-breathable panties (aka non-cotton) can increase the likelihood of getting a vaginal infection because materials like silk can retain moisture. A warm, moist environment is bacteria's haven. Consider sticking to cotton underwear at the gym and changing after to keep your lady parts dry.
5. You Don't Change Your Tampon After Pooping
If the string picks up an fecal matter after, you could increase your risk of infection. It also sometimes gets dislodged or moves after, so you could be uncomfortable if you don't change it.
6. You Store Tampons in Your Bathroom
It's a convenient place, but tampons are meant to absorb moisture. The steam from your shower could make the tampon go bad faster because it's absorbing water from your shower. The best place to store them is in a dry place, like your bedroom or a closet away from the shower.
7. You Stay In Your Swimsuit Too Long
Cute as it can be, a wet swimsuit is a breading ground for yeast, which can cause UTIs or vaginitis, reports Medical Daily. So unless you need to be, you might want to think twice about lounging in a wet swimsuit to extended periods of time.
8. You Recycle Your Tampon Applicator
Did you now that once you insert the applicator inside of you, it's considered contaminated? According to Cosmo, who spoke to a U By Kotex expert, tampon applicators can't be recycled. Just like used syringes, they're considered a bio hazard because they have blood and other bodily tissues on them, so they have to be tossed in the trash.
9. You're Over-Cleaning down there
Your vagina has natural cleaning mechanisms that prevent infections, prevent harmful pathogens, and protect itself. Over-cleaning your vulva can lead to itching or burning. Also, using perfumed soap or harsh chemicals can lead to irritation. If you're going to wash down there, consider just using water or a non-scented soap. The NHS recommends avoiding any soaps or products with perfumes or antiseptics because they can change the pH levels of your vagina. They also recommend washing just once a day and more than once if you're on your period.
10. You're Shaving Down There During Your Period
When you're menstruating, your skin is more sensitive. On top of that, MD Tsippora Shainhouse told Bustle that newly shaved skin is more prone to irritation. It's better to wait until your period is on a light flow before having a razor down there.
11. You Don't Wash Your Hands Before Intimacy Pleasure — With Yourself Or Others
Your hands have literally thousands of bacteria—good and bad— on them. While everyday germs probably won't harm the vagina, some germs (like those found in dirt and soil) "could theoretically lead to transferring a fungal infection", Ronald D. Blatt, gynecologist and medical director of The Manhattan Center for Gynecology and The Manhattan Center for Vaginal Surgery told Vice. So be considerate and make sure you keep those hands clean for yourself, and your partner.
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