For her 29 June, 2016 María Alejandra Tavera
The optimal use of these products can provide women with a proper intimate hygiene, especially when their menstrual cycle begins.
By Gloria Ines Lopera, gynecologist
Restricting the use of pantyliners and intimate washes for women is not the best solution to avoid vaginal infections and UTIs. What gynecologist Gloria Inés Lopera recommends in order to avoid complications in your intimate area is to give proper use to these two products.
It is estimated that 75% of women suffer from vaginal candidiasis at least once in their life during their reproductive age.
For pantyliners, she recommends using hypoallergenic, cotton, breathable, chemical-free, colorless pantyliners, with no synthetic meshes, or perfumes. Additionally she recommends that they be changed at least three times the day. This same habit applies to sanitary pads and tampons.
“The problem is not the pantyliners per se, it’s the way women use them. Some people will leave the same pantyliner on all day, and that can really accumulate bacteria. Plus, with the use of pantyliners your underwear will stay cleaner, given that underwear fabric can also accumulate germs”, Lopera explained.
Vaginal secretions, sweat, physical activity and the type of clothes you wear can also influence the frequency with which you should replace pantyliners, given that excess humidity can make your skin feel uncomfortable in that area of your body.
18 and 36 years old – the age at which women are more prone to suffer vaginal infections caused by fungi.
With regard to intimate washes, Lopera stated that wrongfully performed vaginal douches can alter the pH of this area of the body. “There are a lot of commercial intimate washes on the market, but we don’t even know what is in them. Therefore, it is key that you consult with your gynecologist on which ones to use, as certain components can also affect or irritate some people. Ideally, you should use a neutral wash, and its use is recommended for people who are allergic to hand soap”, she added.
It affects the normal course of things
A vagina’s pH (which stands for power of hydrogen), in other words, its normal acidity level, can be modified depending on the phase of a woman’s cycle, as the pH can temporarily change during her menstrual period, but it can also change during a woman’s lifetime. If the vagina’s pH is altered, it can produce infections such as mycosis, which can generate such vaginal discomfort as irritation, itching, vulvar pain, and pain upon urination, which in turn can modify the balance of the vaginal bacterial flora. Thus, certain habits or situations, such as inadequate intimate hygiene, tight clothing, or synthetic material underwear, can cause allergies, infections, and diseases in the vagina. So take preventive measures and study the risk factors to avoid bacteria and fungi. “Once women start their cycle, they can use menstrual products for hygiene. They don’t need to use intimate washes or pantyliners during that phase”, concluded the expert.
Consult your gynecologist if you present with any of the following symptoms:
- Vaginal flow with a strong odor
- Itching in your vaginal area
- Burning sensation upon urination
- Vaginal pain and irritation
- Pain upon sexual intercourse
- Vaginal dryness
- Changes in the color of your vaginal flow
The most common infections
- Vaginitis or candidiasis (yeast infection): fungal infection that occurs when there is an overgrowth of the Candida fungus, which is usually present in our organism in small amounts, but can be multiplied when the body’s pH is altered.
- Vaginosis or Gardnerella: it occurs due to an over growth of the Gardnerella anaerobic bacteria (it lives and thrives without oxygen), which is normally found in the vagina, but can be altered when the area cannot transpire.
For a proper vaginal hygiene
- Make sure you dry well after taking a bath or using the bathroom.
- Make sure you are the only one using your bath towel.
- Hand-wash your underwear using mild soap; avoid putting it in the washing machine with the rest of your clothes.
- Use cotton underwear and make sure that no soap or detergent marks remain on the fabric after you wash it.