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Washing Instructions

By: Shelagh Larson, WHNP, NCMP

Women genitalia does not come with washing instructions. Then again, neither does any other part of the body. But, there are numerous products on the market that tell women they need to clean inside their vagina.

A human mucous membrane has natural lubricant to keep it wet. In that ‘lubrication’ are thousands of bacteria called lactobacilli. These are the good guys, natures scrubbing bubbles. They are the mouth, intestines and vagina. Their purpose is to fight bad bacteria and yeast from invading the body. These helpful organisms are also known as probiotics.

These probiotics are found in natural foods.  They are in an abundance of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, milk products, lean meats, fish and poultry, eggs nuts and beans. When we start consuming artificial foods with lots of additives, sugar, saturated fats and salts when deprive our bodies of these scrubbing bubbles. Infection will start to ensue. This may come in the form of IBS, lactose intolerance, frequent urinary tract infection and vaginal infections.

When one washing the face, you lather up but do not pull out the lips and wash inside the lips and cheeks. The same is true for the genital area. You can wash the outside, but do not wash inside the lips. This will wash out the lactobacilli and ultimately cause infections. The over-the-counter vaginal washes, Massingil, Vagasil and Summers Eve types claim they are Ph balanced, and they may be. However, they are unnecessary and usually cause a later infection or worsen one already in progress. These products are marketing ploys intended to make a woman feel she is unclean because she has a vaginal lubricant.

Throughout the cycle a woman has different discharge depending on where she is in the cycle. After the menses, women are in an estrogen cycle and the discharge is clear, thin, and watery. As she approaches ovulation, her discharge becomes slimy, thicker and stretchy, (Spinnbarkeit). This makes for a super slick, super highway for sperm to reach the egg. After ovulation, the presence of progesterone causes the mucus to dry up. The discharge becomes creamy like almost like lotion that is white with a yellow tint. This is normal vaginal discharge. If it burns, smells or itches it maybe an infection.

Many of my women think they need to cleanse or douche this discharge away. That want to be dry. Well, that is menopause; those women come back begging for their lubrication.

The need to douching after sex or a menses is also a fallacy. I remind them that before they delivered a baby, we did not have them clean the vagina and douche. They do not need to wash it after sex or a period either. It is a self-cleaning organ. The uterus is the organ that bleeds. If it is not finished shedding the lining, douching is not going to speed it up. It would be like cleaning your front porch and saying your house is clean. This can cause recurrent infections of the vagina. If they still feel the need to wash, save your money and use water. Let the scrubbing bubbles work.


You can see Shelagh Larson, WHNP, NCMP speaker at a Skin, Bones, Hearts & Private Parts event in 2017.