Intimate hygiene: what women and men should pay attention to
Reasonable hygiene in the genital area not only creates a fresh feeling, but also prevents diseases. However, one should not overdo it with intimate hygiene. Experts have tips on what to look for to avoid infections and relieve the immune system.
Intimate hygiene error
For both sexes, intimate hygiene is best done daily. While this seems a matter of course anyway, health experts point out that both women and men can make some mistakes. Doctors mainly observe two grievances: washing too much or too little. There are a few rules that should be followed to avoid infection and relieve the immune system. The AOK health insurance fund gives some tips for the healthy handling of intimate hygiene in a current communication.
Care products can damage vaginal flora
At 4.0 to 4.5, the woman's genital area has a lower pH than the rest of the skin. A large number of bacteria, such as lactic acid bacteria, prevent the entry of pathogens in this so-called "acidic environment". This “lactobacillus protective wall” can be weakened by various influences, including antibiotics. Some intimate care products also destroy the milieu. Lactic acid suppositories inserted into the vagina, for example, can help to rebuild the vaginal flora and prevent infections. The vaginal flora of some women generally has too few lactobacilli, but this does not always have to lead to infections. However, sufferers sometimes suffer from an itchy vagina or vaginal discharge, which is often accompanied by a violent burning sensation. With the right care, the natural protective wall can be kept intact - provided you follow the principle "less is more". The natural flora of the genital area is destroyed by excessive hygiene. As a result, pathogens can penetrate the body more quickly, which can lead to dangerous infections. A gynecologist should be consulted if the discharge smells unpleasant.
Change tampons frequently
The majority of personal care products available on the market support the natural pH of the skin, which is around 5.5. They are therefore not well suited for cleaning the genital area, because the vaginal environment is normally at a pH of 4.4. Even in the event of excessive sweating, morning and evening cleaning with clear water is sufficient. Washcloths used should be changed daily. According to the AOK, another "effective weapon" against infections has proven to be careful drying after washing. Cleaning with water is also sufficient during menstruation. Tampons and pads should be changed at least every two hours. If tampons remain in the vagina for too long, life-threatening dangers threaten. Recently, a case of a young girl who died of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) because she forgot to change the tampon was reported. Proper intimate hygiene is also particularly important for pregnant women because bacterial infections can trigger premature births.
Clean "from front to back"
The self-cleaning function of the vagina is linked to the presence of lactic acid bacteria. Women who often suffer from inflammation of the external and internal genitalia should better avoid synthetic underwear. With such fabrics, sweat cannot be absorbed. This creates a feeling of wetness. If panty liners are used that have a plastic protection, heat build-up and moisture are additionally promoted. This can lead to inflammation such as a fungal infection.
Pants that are too tight also do not allow air to circulate and can have a negative effect on the vaginal flora. Intimate sprays, but also body powder, wet wipes and normal soap disturb the pH value. It is fundamentally important to use toilet paper correctly when cleaning the anus. This, like washing, should not be done “from back to front”, but “from front to back”. A certain hygienic standard should be observed in swimming pools. Warm water in particular, as can be found in whirlpools, is a bacterial source for the intimate area.
Hygiene tips for men
The general hygiene tips for men do not differ significantly from those for women. The use of soaps, wet wipes and intimate deodorants should be avoided and one or two cleanings a day should suffice. The smegma, the white to light yellow substance that arises between the glans and foreskin, should be washed off thoroughly every day, as it can cause, among other things, inflammation of the glans. It is also important for men to always dry the genital area well. In addition, you should make sure that when you go to the toilet, no intestinal germs get into the area of the urethra opening. Tight garments and the use of synthetic fibers can hold back sweat, too. The skin can then lose its resistance due to the moisture and prepare the way for eczema and inflammation. (ad)