What is proper hygiene for the vagina and how do I know if I’m healthy down there?

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Proper hygiene of the vagina is really very simple because the vagina cleanses itself naturally. The natural flora of bacteria and normal cells in the vagina keep the environment at a normal pH. The only thing you need to do is wash around your vagina with mild soap and warm water. NEVER douche or place any sort of spray in your vagina (unless your health care provider prescribes it). Feminine hygiene products that you might see in a pharmacy can cause irritation, allergic reactions or change the vagina’s normal flora. Avoid these products-they are NOT necessary and may be harmful.

Vaginal discharge that is clear, white, light yellow or clear and sticky is most often normal however, the vaginal discharge should not smell and your vagina or the area around it should not be itchy, red or sore.  If you have a discharge that has a strong fishy odor, you may have a bacterial infection. You should make an appointment with your health care provider and get treated.

Your “down there” (your vagina and vulva area) are usually healthy if you do NOT have a fishy odor, itching, redness, burning, or a discharge that is different for you. But it is important to know that some vaginal infections, gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and herpes can cause no symptoms and that’s why it’s important to see your health care provider for routine check-ups. If you are sexually active and use condoms every time you have sex, it significantly lowers your risk of getting an STI (sexually transmitted infection) and bacterial vaginosis (a common vaginal infection).