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By Haleigh Garrett 

Proper genital hygiene is a topic that is not often discussed. While there are a plethora of social media users giving advice about the proper way to care for your genitals, it’s best to follow the advice of a professional. That is why we spoke with Melissa Wilson, Nurse Practitioner for our Tulsa Health Center. Below, we will go over how to properly care for your genitals: vaginal, circumcised, uncircumcised, and during transition.

Vaginal

  1. When washing your vulva 

    • Use a mild, non-scented soap. Wilson recommends that you use your fingers instead of a cloth, and do not get soap in your vagina. Use your fingers to cleanse between the folds of your labias.
  2. Menstrual care
    • If you’re using disposable products, go for unscented pads and tampons. Professionals also recommend using menstrual cups
  3. Hygiene products

    • Do not use any scented products on your vagina or vulva. You do not need to use a special PH wash if you have never used one before. Although our vagina doesn’t need special products, your vulva might benefit. Here is a list of 5 vagina-friendly cleansing products that gynecologists don’t hate. 

  4. Natural hygiene

    • Your vagina cleans itself out. This will show up in the form of discharge. Normal discharge may be clear or white and have no stench. This could differ depending on if you are or aren’t on birth control. Do not let anyone tell you that discharge is not healthy. Discharge is healthy and it means the vagina is doing what it is meant to do.

    • Some people use discharge to determine if they are ovulating.

    • If you notice a foul odor, experience itching, or greenish discharge, get evaluated by your physician. To schedule an affordable exam with our care providers at Planned Parenthood Great Plains, you can visit our website to find out where your nearest provider is located based on region, or call 1-800-230-7526. 

Penile

  1. When washing 

    • When washing your penis, use a mild, unscented soap to wash. Use your hand, not a cloth. If you are uncircumcised, clean under your foreskin by pulling it back to help prevent infection.

    • Do not use scented body wash on your genitals.

  2. Uncircumcised care

    • Clean underneath the foreskin everyday and after sexual activity by pulling the foreskin back, and using a mild, unscented soap and your hand to clean.

    • Pull foreskin back all the way when urinating to prevent infections and foul odors.

    • Do not feel bad about being uncircumcised. Though it may seem less common, the only difference between having a circumcised or uncircumcised penis are a few extra steps in your hygiene routine.

Vaginal/Penile care:

  1. Underwear

    • Professionals recommend wearing full coverage underwear. No thongs, tight fitting boxers or anything not cotton.

  2. Hair care

    • Our pubic hair acts as a protective buffer, reducing friction during sex and other activities. It also helps prevent the transmission of bacteria and other pathogens.

    • Professionals do not recommend shaving, but if you do, they recommend using a separate razor for the groin area, and using a thick, unscented shaving cream. Do not use soap and water only to shave. 

    • Shave the way the hair grows, not against it to achieve smoother results and less irritation. 

    • There are some associated risks with removing your pubic hair. These range from infections like UTIs and cellulitis, to staph boils, abscesses and STIs.

    • Exfoliate regularly by using a gentle loofah or scrub to remove dead skin.

    • Other than shaving, you can also wax, but this is done best by a professional since hot wax can cause burns.

  3. Au Natural Hygiene

    • If you prefer to go au natural, you should wash with warm, soapy water when you take a shower.

    • Avoid using scented products to clean your pubic area, as they can lead to a pH imbalance.

    • Wipe after you use the toilet (from front to back).

    • Use a damp towel or tissue to clean your pubic area between baths and showers.

    • Always dry your pubic hair after cleaning.

  4. Oils/Lubes

    • Some people use vaseline and oils, such as coconut oil, olive oil, and vegetable oil to moisturize their genitals. This is fine, but keep it on the outside of your vagina. 

    • As a lube, you can use natural oils as long as you are not using a condom. The oils can cause condoms to break, so we recommend using these for self-pleasure.  

    • Listen to your body when using oils and lubricants on your body, because your body might respond differently than someone else's. 

    • Keep body oils separate from your cooking oils.

While transitioning

  1. Vagina to penis transition 

    • You may experience vaginal atrophy, which will cause your clitoris to become larger. Vaginal atrophy can also cause your vaginal lining to thin, which can cause tears. 

    • Use lube if you are having penetrative sex, or;

    • Use a smaller toy for penetrative self-pleasure.

  2. Penis to vagina transition

    • The genitals will get smaller but it typically doesn’t affect ability to go to the bathroom. 

    • You may experience erectile dysfunction.

    • Treatment options are available for this without adjusting your current medications.

For other resources and tips on genital hygiene:

Tags: genital, hygiene