Generally speaking, the female genitals include skin folds (outer and inner lips), the clitoral hood + the clitoris, and the openings to the urethra and the vagina.
A lot to clean, right? Not really.
The vagina itself is self-cleaning (!), and you should leave it alone unless instructed by your healthcare provider to douche; the rest can be easily maintained following the tips below.
Women with vaginismus – do your best to try the following; if nothing else, it will be a good exercise in beginning to own your genitals!
- Install a hand-held shower to better rinse off the area. If not possible, use a spray bottle.
- Never use hot water on the genitals to avoid over-drying and chafing irritations. You can take your shower as hot as you wish but turn the water to warm when rinsing the genitals.
- It is best to use a neutral or hypoallergenic soap to avoid irritations caused by fragrances and/or other chemicals in the soap. However, feel free to use any soap you like when washing the rest of your body.
- No need to scrub the area. Apply a bit of (neutral/hypoallergenic) soap on your hand, lightly soap between the genital lips (not inside the vagina), and rinse. If using the soap makes the genitals burn, use warm water for a few days before trying again, and/or try another soap.
- Pat dry the area when you towel off and leave it alone.
- If your genitals feel dry, you can apply a thin coat of Aquaphor Healing Ointment to the area between the lips but not inside the vagina. Aquaphor is an over-the-counter ointment that can also be used as a lip balm, a diaper ointment, and a barrier ointment to prevent chafing irritations between toes (during running), in the genitals (bike riding), etc.
- Cleaning after intercourse? Read our post Intercourse & cleaning.
- Final note: it is common to find residue in the genitals: toilet paper dust/pieces, sloughed dry skin, leftover ointment/medications, etc. If left accumulated, they may cause skin irritation. Use a mirror and look at your genitals every 2-3 months to ensure good hygiene.
Not much more is needed… Use the same approach if taking a bath.