Vulvovaginal health is the health and sanitation of the human female vulva and vagina.
Problems affecting this area include vulva diseases, vagina diseases, as well as urinary tract infections.
The following measures are advisable for keeping the vulva and vagina healthy:
- Avoiding washing with soap, since soap disturbs the natural pH balance of the vagina. Some, so called pH balanced soaps exist, but their effects remain unclear. Other measures are seldom necessary or advisable. Two notable examples: so-called "feminine hygiene sprays" are unnecessary, may be generally harmful, and have been known to cause severe allergic reactions. Vaginal douching is generally not necessary and has been implicated in helping to cause bacterial vaginosis (BV) and candidiasis ("yeast infections").
- After using the toilet, wipe from the front toward the back to avoid introducing bacteria from the anal area into the vulva. Use non-perfumed, undyed toilet paper.
- Drink plenty of water and urinate frequently and as soon as possible when you feel the need, to help flush bacteria out of the urinary tract and avoid urinary tract infections. For the same reason, try to urinate before and after sex.
- Change out of a wet swimsuit or other wet clothes as soon as possible.
- Avoid fragrances, colours, and "deodorants" in products that contact the vulva/vagina: sanitary napkins, tampons, and toilet paper. Some women who are sensitive to these substances should also avoid bubble baths and some fabric detergents and softeners.
- Use a menstrual cup instead of sanitary pads or tampons. Menstrual cups are a new form of menstrual product that has recently been rapidly gaining in popularity as a greener, more cost-effective and healthier alternative to tampons and sanitary pads.
- Avoid wearing leather trousers, tight jeans, panties made of nylon or other synthetic fabrics, or pantyhose without an all-cotton crotch (not cotton covered by nylon - cut out the nylon panel if necessary).
- Anything which has been in contact with the anal area (see anal sex) should be thoroughly washed with soap and water or a similar disinfectant before coming in contact with the vulva or vagina.
- Use condoms during heterosexual intercourse, practise safer sex, know your sex partners, ask sex partners to practise basic hygiene of their genitals. Use artificial lubrication during the intercourse if the amount naturally produced is not enough.
- Be careful with objects inserted inside the vagina. Improper insertion of objects into any body opening can cause damage: infection, cutting, piercing, trauma, blood loss, etc.
- Avoid letting any contaminants inside the vagina, including dirt but especially sand.
Women who are unable to walk are more likely to have infections. The problem can be prevented according to above-mentioned and following measures:
- Wash crotch and rectal areas (with a soap-substitute if desired) and large amount of warm running water, every morning and evening. The disabled person can sit on a shower chair with an open seat or on a toilet. Use a shower head or water container to wash more directly.
- Use towel to dry.
- DO NOT use talcum/body powder, if desired use corn starch powder (corn-flour) on the skin of the genital area to absorb perspiration.
- Avoid sitting on plastic or synthetic materials for extended lengths of time.
- Wear loose underpants and change if soilage or wetness occurs.