Genital hygiene is a hush-hush subject, with most societal norms treating it as a taboo; some cultures even consider female genitalia unclean. Consequently, many women and girls maintain poor feminine hygiene out of ignorance and later contend with vaginal health problems like yeast infections and urinary tract infections (UTI). Unfortunately, genital hygiene matters remain undiscussed among the male gender too.
Genital health issues are more prominent among women due to their private parts’ ultrasensitivity to ambient changes. However, many men also endure infections like thrush, “jock itch,” and even a penile yeast infection arising from poor genital hygiene. Therefore, this post delves into healthy genital hygiene, including how to clean private parts after urination.
What Are The Benefits of Cleaning Your Private Parts After Urination?
According to one study on the burden of UTIs, UTIs have a 50%-60% lifetime incidence, meaning that up to 60% of women are likely to have a urinary tract infection during their lifetime. Moreover, one research study conducted among 250 women established a link between UTIs and poor feminine hygiene.
Prevalent poor genital hygiene practices include failing to clean your intimate area after urination; both genders are culprits. Essentially, the pubic hair on your private parts traps urine droplets during urination, and those droplets pass onto your underwear if you fail to wipe yourself afterward.
The urine droplets cause unpleasant odors and dampness on your undergarment, creating a conducive environment for yeast to flourish. According to one literature review, yeasts like Candida albicans and good bacteria living in your intimate area are harmless until ambient conditions change, causing a population explosion.
Women who wipe their intimate area the wrong ways after urination are likely to get bacterial infections from fecal matter accidentally transferred to their vulva (outer part of your private area) and into the vagina. Fecal matter contains harmful bacteria like E.coli that hamper vaginal health.
Although women are more susceptible to infections from poor private area hygiene, men are not immune. Men can also get yeast infections, thrush, and jock itch, and one research study shows that uncircumcised males have a greater risk of contracting penile yeast infections.
Below are some pointers to guide you on the correct way to clean your genital area after urination, helping you avoid infections.
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Tips for Maintaining the Health and Good Hygiene of the Vagina After Urinating
Wipe From Front To Back
Wiping your vagina with toilet paper after urinating is not enough for your vaginal hygiene; you must wipe it correctly. Doing it in the wrong direction is the leading cause of poor vagina health. The correct way to wipe your private area is from front to back, preventing bacterial transfer from the anus to the vulva.
Like your vagina, your rectum and anus have healthy bacteria that promote healthy bowel movements. However, while such bacteria are healthy in the anal area, they have a pathogenic effect when they gain access to other body organs.
Wiping your vagina back to front after urinating gives the bacteria residing in your rectum and anus entry into the vaginal lips, allowing them access into the urinary tract, where they cause infection. However, wiping your private area from front to back keeps unwanted bacteria away, promoting feminine hygiene and preventing infections.
Wear High-quality and Comfortable Underwear
According to one study on stringy undergarments’ effect on vulva skin, stringy panty styles like thongs and G-strings do not affect vagina health. However, the fabric used to make the innerwear, or at least the vulva lining, impacts vagina health.
Experts recommend that women wear panties made using breathable and absorbent fabric to prevent vagina infections. Cotton is the best fabric for female innerwear because its absorbent nature allows it to wick moisture from normal vaginal discharge and sweat away from your vulva. The breathability facilitates airflow, keeping your vaginal area dry.
On the other hand, synthetic fabrics lack moisture-wicking properties and promote bacteria overgrowth. Therefore, always wear proper-fitting (not too tight) cotton underwear that keeps your vulva dry. Also, change your undergarments at least once a day and wear clean underwear to keep the vagina healthy.
Men also need to wear comfortable cotton undergarments with good wicking properties to avoid developing balanitis, an infection characterized by itching and inflammation of the penis head. Moreover, uncircumcised men are more likely to contract balanitis because the uncut foreskin traps moisture.
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Change Your Menstrual Hygiene Products As Appropriate
Moisture from your menses can nurture unhealthy bacteria cultures that cause vaginal infections. Therefore, switch damp pads, tampons, or other feminine hygiene products for fresh ones to prevent infections.
Although the standard recommendation is to change your sanitary pad or tampon every four-six hours, menstrual flows vary. Moreover, even a light flow can cause moisture build-up if you go for a long period without changing the pad/tampon. However, wipe your vagina with enough tissue paper before changing whichever feminine hygiene product you use.
Clean Your Vagina After Sexual Intercourse
Cleaning your private area after sex also helps protect you from contracting a vaginal infection. Although rare, men, particularly uncircumcised men can also contract vaginal yeast infections from an infected female partner.
Sexual penetration into the vagina introduces unhealthy bacteria into the vagina, increasing infection risk. Moreover, semen and fluids from condoms and personal lubricants can also alter your vagina’s pH, creating bacterial imbalances.
However, a simple tissue paper wipe-down won’t do; you need to be thorough but gentle. Therefore, wash your vaginal lips with warm water and gently wipe them. You can also use mild soaps because the vulva area has sensitive skin, so avoid scented products with harsh chemicals that can cause vaginal dryness.
What to avoid while cleaning the vagina?
Do Not Douche
Unlike the vulva, the vagina has natural self-cleaning properties and does not require external products to keep your genitals clean. Therefore, vaginal cleansing products like douches are unnecessary for vaginal hygiene. Moreover, they are more likely to trigger and aggravate infections. Vaginal douches alter your vagina’s pH, disrupting its healthy bacterial balance.
Avoid Harsh Vaginal Hygiene Products
Do not wash your private area with harsh soaps, scented wipes, scented soaps, or other intimate washes that can cause you to experience vaginal dryness, among other complications. Also, avoid using scented feminine hygiene products and go for mild soap and unscented products to prevent skin sensitivity.
Gynecological visits are not fun due to their invasive nature, but they are necessary. Second, as stated above, UTIs affect up to 60% of women globally and should not be a source of shame.
Some women opt to self-diagnose vaginal infections and use over-the-counter drugs. Unfortunately, self-medication can aggravate the condition and have dire consequences on your overall health in the long run.
Wiping vs. washing
The standoff between tissue paper and bidet systems is an old one, given that both are standard tools for keeping your vagina clean. However, each one has its pros and cons.
For instance, a bidet system gives a thorough wash using water jets and has better reach. However, bidet systems leave the vagina moist and may trigger bacteria overgrowth.
On the other hand, tissue paper absorbs all the moisture from your private area after urination, but its rough texture is wanting. Therefore, a better option would be to combine both tools’ strengths for a more thorough yet safe and 100% dry wash.
Uncircumcised men should be as rigorous while cleaning and drying their genitalia because the uncut foreskin leaves them more susceptible than circumcised men to infections. However, snipping the foreskin altogether will spare you uncomfortable trips to the urologist.
Considerations for people who follow Islamic practices
Islam offers two halal methods for purifying yourself after peeing or defecating, istinja, and istijmar. Istinja dictates using only water to purify yourself, giving your private area a thorough wash until no urine droplets or fecal matter remains, and is the preferred purification method.
However, during instances where water shortages and other inconveniences may make practicing istinja impossible, istijmar, or using dry matter, like soft pebbles, apply. Moreover, toilet paper use is halal under istijmar purification, as long as you use your left hand and utilize an odd number of wipes. Therefore, as a Muslim, you can combine istijmar and istinja according to counsel from religious authorities.
Are there any risks involved in private part care?
Private part care is a straightforward process, and the only possible risk lies in either failing to practice vaginal hygiene or being overzealous with your hygiene routine.
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When should I see my gynecologist?
Besides private part care, annual gynecological screenings are important. However, you can also visit a gynecologist outside your routine appointment when you experience the following:
Abnormal vaginal discharge
Foul vaginal odors, especially discharge odors
Pelvic bleeding or bleeding during urination or sexual intercourse
Abnormally painful menstrual cramps
Itchy private parts
Skin irritation or itching on the vulva causing sores, blisters, or rashes
Your gynecologist should offer a diagnosis and prescribe treatment.
Cleaning your private parts as directed above is essential to women’s health. Therefore, follow the tips above to maintain vaginal health, and do not hesitate to visit a gynecologist when you experience any abnormalities in your vagina.