photography by Istock

How To Actually Care For Your Vagina

There are all kinds of concerns right now about talcum powder in light of Health Canada’s recently published draft assessment, proposing the potential risks of talc to the ovaries. There was also the 2016 lawsuit filed against Johnson & Johnson for not disclosing the risks associated with talc-based products. Of course, all of this begs the question: Why would women even put powder down there? As it turns out, there’s no real need for it, so read on for doctor-approved tips on how to properly care for your vagina.

Favour H2O

“Soaps are harsh and can disrupt the pH of the vagina, and that can lead to infections including yeast vaginitis as well as bacterial vaginosis,” says Dr. Angela Giacomantonio, a women’s health fellow at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. “So, I recommend using a wash cloth and no soap. If women are going to use it, it should be scent-free.” It might seem counter-intuitive to not use suds in that area, but the simple friction of washing the area with a cloth can send bacteria, dirt, etc., down the drain.

Embrace the Granny Panty

Ladies, you’re in luck. “Avoid tight-fitting underwear, pantyhose, leggings, those kinds of things, which create a warm, moist environment,” says Giacomantonio (OK, yes, we know you hate the word “moist” as much as we do). The reason? Bacteria and yeast thrive in wet conditions—ughhh. “Cotton underwear, like full-bum underwear, is better than lacy or [synthetic fabrics] because they don’t breathe the same. Not wearing underwear to bed will help, too.” For the perfect blend of cotton with a cute edge, we recommend Knix.

Work out, then strip

You exercise a lot—congrats! But whatever you do, go straight to the change room once you’ve finished. “Women who like to swim a lot or exercise should immediately change out of wet clothes after they’re done their activities,” says Giacomantonio. This is the downside of the athleisure trend: You could look awesome wearing your gym clothes all day, but technically you shouldn’t.

Go scent-free

This is a tough one for many of us who are romanced by the idea of pretty-smelling things. But Giacomantonio says: “Avoid things like bubble baths. Also, certain panty liners can make it worse if they have scents and chemicals in them, so if you’re going to use them they should be the most natural, scent-free ones.” Try Natracare pads if you’re looking for products that haven’t been bleached or sprayed with pesticides, otherwise just read the label when you’re in your drugstore, as many unscented varieties of tampons and pads are available. You may also want to consider joining Team Menstrual Cup this year (better late than never!) and perhaps even introduce washable cloth pads from brands like Lunapads into your regimen.