The vulva is the outer part of the female genitals. There are a variety of causes for pain or discomfort to the vulva that can range from sexually transmitted diseases to wearing inappropriate undergarments. At least 10% of women that seek gynaecological help in Europe declare that they suffer from chronic vulvar discomfort.
Furthermore, it is likely that many more women do not seek help and suffer in silence. Some of the most common causes include: trauma, infections, allergies, hormonal changes, and a variety of painful conditions classified under the term vulvodynia.
Women who live with vulvar pain should not have to face this challenge alone, and if you suffer from chronic discomfort you should speak about it with someone you trust and, most importantly, consult with your doctor or gynaecologist.
However, sometimes a few small changes in lifestyle or personal hygiene can make a big difference towards maintaining comfort and overall intimate health.
A few tips
Here are a few simple tips you can follow to avoid irritation in the vulvar area :
- When washing, simply use warm water, your hand and minimal amounts of a mild, gentle soap. Do not scrub aggressively or use products with perfumes and additives as these can be irritating to the skin. Make sure to rinse thoroughly as soap deposits can cause irritations.
- For women with particularly sensitive vulvar skin, please note: if your sexual partner uses a soap with perfumes and/or additives, this could be a source of irritation.
- When drying the vulvar area, gently pat the area with a towel and do not scrub.
- Wear 100% cotton underwear and avoid synthetic fabrics as they can cause irritations. Also try to avoid clothing that traps heat and moisture.
- When washing your towels and clothes in the laundry, use a sensitive brand of detergent and avoid using large quantities as this may cause irritation.
- It is important to try and keep your genital area dry and to avoid chronic moisture as this may increase your chances of irritation due to organism growth such as yeast infection, for example.
- Use white, unscented toilet paper.
- Do not use products with perfumes or antiseptic qualities such as feminine hygiene sprays, baby wipes, etc.
- Do not shave with a razor or use hair removal products. You can use a pair of scissors to trim your pubic hair in the vulvar area.
- Vaginal douches should be avoided unless specifically prescribed by a healthcare professional. They may upset the natural balance of vaginal flora and cause additional undesirable symptoms.
These tips are of a general nature and intended to help maintain health and comfort for women who experience discomfort or sensitivity in the vulvar area. They are not a substitute for professional opinion and help.
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