Your crotch area is pretty much self-cleaning. Washing it daily with warm water is fine — just make sure you’re not using soap in that sensitive region!
And steer clear of “yoni pearls,” or cloth-wrapped herbal ‘pearls’ that are inserted for vaginal and uterus detox. These products have no scientific backing and can be dangerous.
1. Change Your Hygiene Routine
Despite what many people believe, the vulva (which also includes the inner and outer vaginal lips, clitoris, and genital skin) does not need to be washed, scrubbed, or “detoxed.” In fact, doing so can actually cause problems.
A new trend called yoni pearls, which are small suppositories made with herbs like wild celery and motherwort, has been making the rounds on social media as a way to cleanse down there. It’s claimed that by putting them in, they purge the body of dead cells, mucus, yeast, and old blood clots. But experts SELF spoke to tell us that these pearls are just the latest in a long line of questionable gynecological products.
The best way to keep your vulva healthy is by washing it daily with warm water and mild soap. Just make sure to wipe from front to back and not over-wipe; otherwise you could wash away the good bacteria that keeps bad bacteria at bay. Other good hygiene tips include wearing breathable cotton underwear, ditching douches, avoiding feminine sprays, and getting plenty of rest, exercise, and sleep.
2. Eat Healthy
Between scented tampons, vaginal “pearls” and other gyno-trends like douching and V-steaming, women are being told to pamper their vulva. But could these products do more harm than good?
The vulva is home to a whole ecosystem full of both good and bad bacteria. It is naturally acidic, which helps keep the bacterial balance in check but also makes it prone to yeast infections when things get out of whack. A healthy diet filled with probiotics and an adequate amount of water can help keep the bacterial balance in your vagina in check.
Avoiding scented products and eating a variety of leafy greens, fruits and vegetables will keep your immune system strong, which can help prevent an overgrowth of yeast or bacterial infections. Be a smart shopper when purchasing meat and dairy, looking for organic and hormone-free options. Hormones injected into animals to increase their growth can transfer to your own body and play havoc with your natural estrogen levels.
A healthy vulva is a big part of overall health, so it’s important to take care of it. Fortunately, there are simple things that women can do to help make their nether regions more comfortable and healthy.
For example, a woman should avoid perfumed soaps and shower gels, which can irritate the area and mess with the pH balance there. It’s also a good idea to wear cotton underwear—it’s breathable and wicks moisture, reducing the risk of irritation. And women should change out of sweaty workout clothing right away, as this can cause a buildup of bacteria down there.
The same goes for lingerie—it’s best to choose soft and stretchy fabrics, especially when it comes to sleepwear. It’s also helpful to remove wet bathing suits and exercise clothes promptly, as odor-causing bacteria can grow more quickly in damp areas.
Lastly, women should try doing Kegel exercises—or vaginal squeezing exercises—to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. These can help improve vaginal tightness and even lead to stronger orgasms, Dr. Minkin says.
4. Sleep Well
From scented tampons to feminine powders, sprays, and douche products, there’s no shortage of ways to “cleanse” down there. But these methods may be doing more harm than good. For example, yoni pearls (clothed “pearls” that contain multiple herbs, like motherwort, peach kernel, borneol, and osthol) have been wreaking havoc for years on women’s intimate areas by causing them to lose their natural pH balance, says Jodie Horton, an ob-gyn in Oakton, Virginia, who’s also the chief wellness advisor at Love Wellness.
Your vagina’s naturally low pH encourages the growth of healthy bacteria that help fight off bad ones, so it doesn’t need your extra help. Washing too much down there or douching can throw off this balance, leading to infection and a slew of unwanted symptoms. Plus, leaving objects in your nether region for too long can cause a dangerous medical condition called TSS. So skip the yoni pearls and ditch the perfumed soap, and stick to a regular showering routine with a gentle soap that’s dermatologically tested and fragrance-free.
5. Stay Hydrated
Your yoni is a well-oiled machine that’s self-regulating, and it doesn’t need detox pearls or any other questionable gynecological health products to work. Instead, experts SELF talked to recommend keeping it healthy with the basics.
First up, drink lots of water. The average woman needs about three to four quarts of fluid per day. Drinking this amount will help keep your body hydrated and your juices flowing, which is key to vaginal health.
Second, eat plenty of low-oxalate vegetables like kale and other greens. These vegetables are rich in vitamins A and C and improve circulation in the labia. This can prevent dryness and itching, which could lead to or exacerbate yeast infections.
Finally, exercise. A regular workout can strengthen the pelvic floor and contribute to stronger orgasms. And don’t forget to pee before and after sex. Urinating after sexual activity helps flush out toxins from the urethra and reduces the likelihood of getting a UTI.