As women, we have to deal with advertisements specifically and intentionally designed to make us feel like our lady parts are inherently dirty. While regular bathing and grooming are enough to keep a healthy woman clean, douches, feminine sprays, creams, and a whole host of other “hygiene” products are on the market because we've been made to feel like we're naturally gross. In reality, more often than not it's these very products and this mentality that are the cause of poor feminine hygiene. Here are four cases of bad feminine hygiene that could have been easily prevented.
1. The Cover-Up
Constantly embarrassed by the possibility of “female odor,” Maggie always covers her panties with at least one pair of tights or leggings, and then close fitting jeans. Even at home, she won't remove her layers and risk letting the supposed smell get out. By ensuring that her pubic area is always an air-tight, sweaty region, she creates an odor (and probably breeds bacteria to cause an infection) that would never have existed otherwise.
2. The Germ-a-phobe
Grace has been slightly uncomfortable with her vaginal area since puberty, and is constantly trying to keep it 'clean.' She uses scented wipes throughout the day, showers with anti-bacterial soap, and scrubs the delicate area regularly. As a result of irritation and an imbalance created by the anti-bacterial soap, she gives herself a vaginal infection. Grace is completely bewildered by this outcome, since she stays obsessively 'clean.'
3. The Art of Concealment
Haleigh is still in high school, and dreads letting anyone else know when she's on her period. She refuses to wear pads for fear that they'll be noticeable, and instead uses tampons for her entire cycle. Even on her lightest (and driest) days, she doesn't feel safe with just a liner. By constantly wearing tampons, she increases her risk of developing TSS, but at the present she's causing vaginal lacerations and exposing herself to dioxins. In a few months, her OB-GYN will suspect her of having an STD, which will turn out to be a case of extreme vaginal irritation.
4. An Ounce of Prevention
Rosa wants to stay clean and avoid getting a yeast infection, so she purchases a feminine wash from the pharmacy. The wash is advertised as preventing odor and balancing pH, so she believes that it's safe. Only a few days after she uses it, however, she develops the very infection she wanted to avoid. By altering Rosa's healthy vaginal pH levels, the wash was the direct cause of her infection.
All of these examples are real-life scenarios that happen every day. The truth is, our bodies know what they're doing already, and don't need very much help. The female human body has evolved over millions of years to become the complex, self-regulating system it is today. Although it goes against everything media and advertisements tell us, the healthiest thing a woman can do for her feminine hygiene is to let it be. Gently washing with water and (if necessary) extremely gentle, non-anti-microbial soap on a daily basis is all the healthy woman needs to do to to stay fresh and safe.