Ice cream, rosé, homemade popsicles, poolside hangs, a healthy glow from time spent outdoors … these are a few of the things on our minds now that the weather has started to warm up. Another thing on many of our minds, however, is a little less sweet. Staying fresh.
There are loads of bacteria in and around our vagina, so get familiar with that right off the bat. Many of those microorganisms are good, and we need them. Our vagina has a totally unique microbiome all her own that keeps things functioning optimally. However, there’s certainly an amount of not-so-great bacteria—it’s all a balance. The beauty is keeping that balance.
When bad bacteria are out of balance, several things can happen. One of them, most notably on women’s minds, is odor. We want to be ripe like a peach, not, you know, ripe. We spoke with OB-GYN Dr. Heather Bartos, who gave us all the lovely details about keeping things fresh this summer, and year-round for that matter.
First things first, Dr. Bartos gets anatomical. “The vulva, or external female genitalia (the big ‘lips’) and the hair-bearing areas around it contain sweat glands.” That’s right, ladies. We’re human. Let that one sink in. “Sweat glands—just like your pits—can smell after a bit. Some women can odorize more than others down there, just like we do in our pits.” Some people are just slightly more fragrant than others. It’s about managing your own personal cleanliness.
While this can be a bit tougher in the warmer seasons, Dr. Bartos notes that keeping the area clean and dry helps. “Don’t use talcum powder to keep it dry! In summer, I carry a little cornstarch (baby powder) with me and sprinkle it in the undies when that humidity jacks up to 110%.” Talcum powder is toxic and even linked to cancer. Skip it—and all products that carry it—for the sake of your whole bod, let alone your precious undercarriage. Cornstarch is simple and natural.
Panties can fold up relatively small and fit in compact spaces, so carry a spare with you if you’re going to have a busy day with no time to freshen up. Dr. Bartos says a midday change will do wonders for keeping unwanted bacteria at bay. And doesn’t a fresh pair just feel nice? Especially if heat is an issue—no want wants to marinate in sweat all day.
Take off those yoga pants
They’re stretchy. Forgiving. So comfy. And often, super flattering. It’s understandable why we wear them all day. But yoga pants aren’t typically made of 100% breathable, natural fibers like cotton, silk, or linen. More reminiscent to plastic wrap, they hold things in, for good. So if you’ve just done a workout or have been running around all day and broke a sweat, please, Dr. Bartos begs us, change out of them stat. Unwanted bacteria is trapped under the stretchy fabric with nowhere else to cling but there.
“For vaginal odor, I like to balance the pH of the vagina,” Dr. Bartos shares. There are many old wives’ tales of homeopathic tricks like applying yogurt to the area, as it contains the good strains of bacteria that help our bits thrive, but Dr. Bartos is not a fan. It’s a bit messy, and you want to be absolutely sure that it’s plain. Any flavoring or sugar is not welcome and is a breeding ground for yeast and undesirables.
“I use products like RepHresh, which balance the pH homeopathically.” Dr. Bartos also points out that we should make sure to clean any sex toys, etc., very well. And of course, if none of these simple tricks are working and you’re feeling self-conscious or uncomfortable, please visit a doctor. Daily upkeep is a part of personal hygiene, but managing infections is something to take more seriously.
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