Keeping yourself clean is the first step to good health, and that includes keeping your nether regions spick and span. Maintaining genital hygiene is very important to keep certain diseases at bay. Cleaning genitals in the right manner is important to prevent any infection in the genital area and prevent sexually transmitted diseases that can not only affect your reproductive and sexual life but also your overall health. This is why a proper understanding of how to maintain good genital health is crucial.
The maintenance of genital hygiene is different for men and women. Read on to know how good genital health can be achieved by both the sexes.
Common Symptoms That Indicate Bad Genital Hygiene
- Vaginal odor
- Burning sensation while urinating
- Pain or bleeding during sex
- Vaginal redness, swelling, or itching
- Abrupt increase or change in vaginal discharge (gray, green, or yellow discharge)
- Painful urination
- Penis discharge
- Sores or blisters on the penis
- Foreskin problems
- Groin irritation
Diseases That Result From Improper Genital Hygiene
Both men and women are prone to diseases if they do not maintain proper genital hygiene. Look at the list below that mentions certain health conditions that will arise out of bad genital hygiene.
- Urinary tract infection
- Vaginal yeast infection
- Penile yeast infection
- Genital inflammation
- Penile adhesions
How To Keep Your Genitals Clean
Cleaning the genitals is an important step to maintaining personal hygiene. The cleaning of the genital area is different for men and women. Common genital health issues like yeast infections and urinary tract infections can easily be treated with proper cleaning of the genitals.1
What Women Should Do?
- Women must always clean their genital area once a day and if menstruating, two to three times a day. Keep the following tips in mind about genital hygiene.
- Clean the genital area with a mild soap and water once every day. Cleaning too many or too few times may disturb the pH balance of your vagina.
- Clean your genitals before and after sexual intercourse.
- Do not clean the internal genitalia or vagina with soap. Washing it with harsh soap might leave the vagina vulnerable to infections.
- Avoid using hot or warm water to clean the area as it may result in dryness and irritation. It is best if you use a hand-held shower and cold water for cleaning purpose.
- To prevent the contamination of the genitals with germs from the anus, always wipe from front to back and not the other way around.
Vaginal pH balance: Apart from the good bacteria in the vagina, known as the vaginal flora, the vagina also maintains an acidic pH within it for the lactobacillus bacteria and other good bacteria to thrive.2 The acidic environment also keeps harmful germs from entering the vagina and keeps the rest of the reproductive organs safe. So, it is important to avoid washing the vagina too many times a day as well.
During menstruation: When you are menstruating, follow the same genital hygiene routine that is mentioned above. Just wash your genitals two to three times a day. Also, make sure that you change the sanitary napkins every six hours or before they get soaked. Use cotton and fragrance-free sanitary pads to avoid any infection.
Drying Female Genitalia: Always pat dry after you wash your genitalia. While drying, go from front to back with a single stroke to prevent the contamination of the genitals with germs from the anus. Microorganisms from the anus can cause urinary tract infection, among other infections.
What Men Should Do?
Men need to clean their genital area only once a day. You should remember not to make an attempt to try and clean the inside of the urethra as it can cause serious damage. Special care is required for uncircumcised men while cleaning their genitals. If a man fails to clean their genital area properly, it might result in smegma collection that causes bad odor and an increased risk of genital infection.
Clean your penis using a mild, fragrance-free soap. Most of the bathing soaps contain cleaning agents and scents that might cause irritation on the sensitive skin of the penis. If you have a sensitive skin or if you are prone to allergies, consult a doctor to help you select the right soap.
Cleaning Uncircumcised Penis
- Take the mild, unscented soap in your hands and lather up. Apply it to the shaft of your penis and on the testicles.
- Clean the area under the foreskin as well by gently pulling the foreskin back as far as possible. Take care not to retract the foreskin beyond its natural margin so that it doesn’t cause any scar tissue or injury.
- Rinse all the soap and lather. Clean any debris that may have collected underneath the foreskin.
- Pull back the foreskin to its natural position slowly.
Cleaning Circumcised Penis
- Take a mild, unscented soap in your hands and lather up. Apply it to the shaft of your penis and on the testicles. Rinse the lather well.
- Even if you have no foreskin, wash the head of the penis thoroughly as sweat, bacteria, and debris might have collected there.
Drying Male Genitalia: Use a soft towel to gently pat dry the area under the foreskin, the scrotum, and the shaft of the penis. Get the skin as dry as possible as extra moisture in the genitals can result in yeast infection and other infections.
Precautions To Follow While Cleaning The Genital Area
While cleaning the genital area, remember not to overdo it. Here are a few simple tips:
- Do not over-wash the penis or the vagina. Washing them too often with a scented soap or shower gel can cause soreness and irritation.
- Try not to use any talcum powder on the penis. If talc enters the area under the foreskin, it might cause discomfort due to irritation.
- Trim your genital hair as hair shaft tends to collect sweat, dead skin cells, and sebum (oil), making you prone to infections. Shaving might cause razor burns and itching, which makes trimming a good alternative.
- Wash your genitals before and after sexual intercourse. This is because body fluids released during sex can lead to bacterial growth once they dry up. Use water and a gentle soap to clean the area.
Genital Hygiene Considerations
There are certain considerations common to both men and women;
1. Never share your undergarments, towels, and washcloths with others. Always wash them immediately after use instead of leaving them in the laundry, particularly if you are suffering from any genital infection. These infections include urinary tract infection, yeast infection, vaginal thrush, etc.
2. Wear cotton, loose-fitting underwear. Cotton underwear keeps the genital area dry by absorbing sweat, while loose-fitting underwear lowers perspiration and the transfer of harmful microorganisms from the anus to the genitals.
3. Avoid using any cosmetics in and around your genitals.
Natural Ways To Maintain Genital Hygiene
For women: Women can mix two cups of apple cider vinegar (ACV) in warm bath water. Soak yourself in it for about 20 minutes and follow this remedy once in two days to get quick results. You can also drink ACV solution by mixing 1 or 2 tablespoons of ACV with a glass of warm water every day.
For men: You can wash your genital area with warm water and a mild, herbal soap once in two days. Avoid the use of any cosmetic irritant in the area.
Keeping your genitals clean is relatively simple and should be part of your daily hygiene practice. By following the steps and taking the precautions listed above, you should be able to keep your genitals healthy and clean. However, do remember that no amount of genital cleaning can help you avoid certain STD’s if you do not practice safe sex.
|↑1||How are Yeast Infections Treated?http://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/yeast-infections/treatment. The Official Foundation of the American Urological Association.|
|↑2||Daniel Johannes Rönnqvist, Per, Ulla Birgitta Forsgren‐Brusk, and Eva Elisabeth Grahn‐Håkansson. “Lactobacilli in the female genital tract in relation to other genital microbes and vaginal pH.” Acta obstetricia et gynecologica Scandinavica 85, no. 6 (2006): 726-735.|