Short Guide On Women’s Hygiene
This guide provides information and tips how to avoid Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI), as well as other infections and diseases. STI are common and passed on very easily. Some STI can be detected by observing changes or complaints, others only by targeted medical investigation. A medical consultation and examination is necessary for a proper diagnosis and therapy. The Public Health Departments of North Rhine-Westphalia offer anonymous and free consultation. Please ask on site whether free examinations and treatments are possible and if further costs may arise.
Good to know
Women’s Intimate Care
Excessive cleanliness but also lack of hygiene can cause vaginal infections or allergic reactions.
Washing too frequently weakens the skin’s natural defense mechanism. Perfumed soaps and bath additives attack the protective acid mantle of the skin. For cleaning the external genital area warm water is sufficient. If anything, women should use a washing lotion in the low (acidic) pH range
(pH 3.5 – 4.5).
It makes sense to use disposable washcloths. Intimate sprays, wet wipes and deodorizing pantyliners irritate the skin and may cause allergic reactions/inflammations. Vaginal douches are never helpful but can even do more harm! After bladder/bowel emptying, clean from front to back to reduce the spread of intestinal germs to the urogenital area.
Even during your menstruation clear water is sufficient for cleaning your intimate area.
Sanitary pads absorb your menstrual blood outside the body. To prevent germ growth, they should generally not be coated with synthetic fiber. Tampons and soft-tampons are applied inside the vagina. To avoid infections, they must be changed at the latest after 6 to 8 hours. Wash hands thoroughly with soap before inserting menstrual hygiene products into the vagina.
Use soft-tampons according to instruction. For risk of infection they must not be washed out and reused! Under no circumstances may soft-tampons be cut. A short cut soft-tampon may slip too deep into your vagina. If this happens, the tampon has to be quickly removed by a doctor to avoid serious health problems.
If you’re suffering from a vaginal infection or having a low menstrual flow, you should use sanitary pads only.
A clear to whitish vaginal discharge is normal and not necessarily a sign of infection.
In case of change in color (yellowish, greenish), odor (fishy) or texture (crumbly, foamy), it is important to seek medical advice. Self-treatment is not recommended.
When taking antibiotics, you can use special vaginal suppositories with lactobacilli (available at the pharmacy) to prevent a vaginal mycosis (attention: condom safety may be reduced).
Your daily changed underwear should be washable at 60°C and contain a high percentage of natural fibers, to absorb sweat, allow the skin to breath and prevent infections.
Underwear made of synthetic fabric creates a “humid chamber” which promotes the growth and spread of germs. Pantyliners with a plastic layer have a similar effect.
Thongs and lace thongs are a constant irritant to sensitive skin and should only be worn on special occasions. You should not wear them during acute infections.
Genital piercings can become infected if they are pierced under unhygienic conditions or not properly cleaned and disinfected afterwards. Choosing a reliable certified piercing studio and following the care/disinfection instructions exactly, can keep the infection risk low.
Genital piercings also require constant observation and care later on. They may serve as a port of entry for STI germs, therefore redness, swelling and pain have to be clarified by a doctor. Depending on the type of genital piercing, the use of condoms may be more difficult. The condom can be more easily damaged.
For many women, shaving pubic hair is part of their daily care.It is important to use a clean, sharp blade when shaving wet. Dry shaving and depilatory gels irritate the hair roots and can thus lead to inflammations.
Good to know
The AIDS-/STI-Counseling Centers of the Public Health Departments in NRW (North Rhine-Westphalia) offer anonymous and free counseling on all Sexually Transmitted Infections.