On Tik Tok, where the hashtag #femininehygieneproducts has 31.3 million views and examines advice and practices on how to keep the vagina incredibly clean and visually beautiful, the phrase “clean vagina” has become increasingly popular lately. Numerous influencers, especially those from the United States, have sponsored and supported obsessive monitoring of one’s vagina’s cleanliness, exterior appearance, and scent. They have suggested routine washings and even tactics to shrink it and change the smell. The movement, which has a strong patriarchal past, is not in support of women who wear undergarments; rather, it is in favor of people who view it as ideal, don’t understand it, and don’t wear them. Fortunately, authorities in the sector and beyond immediately started to speak out, arguing with popularized substance why it was not a trend that should be adopted. To this craze, I would therefore strongly object twice.
My first rejection comes from a medical standpoint. In terms of anatomy, the vulva is the portion of the genitals that is on the outside and consists of the labia majora, the mount of Venus, the hair-covered region, the innermost labia minora, and the clitoris that is covered by its hood. It is appropriate to use specialized cleaners to wash this outside area. It is best to adjust the PH of a woman’s intimate cleanser according to her life stage: during childbearing age, an acidic PH cleanser between 3.8 and 4.5 will be required, while throughout menopause, a more neutral PH cleanser will be required. Two cleanses a day are sufficient to maintain the health of the vulvar microbiota; vulva care should not be overdone to avoid harming the vulvar microbiota.
The vagina, in contrast, is the inner portion, the area where the cup or tampon is placed, and it is made of mucous membrane rather than skin, in contrast to the vulva. The vaginal microbiota, which is made up primarily of the beneficial bacteria lactobacilli, is found there. These many families coexist peacefully and cooperate together to protect the vagina from diseases. Due to their irritant properties and potential to harm and irritate the vaginal walls, traditional cleansers and even intimate cleansers should never be used to wash the vagina. Despite what the #cleanvagina craze would have us believe, the vagina is a completely self-cleansing organ that removes substances it does not require on its own through physiological vaginal secretions.
Contrarily, vaginal douches, which are designed for the vagina, should only be used under a doctor’s supervision and for absolutely required conditions (such as infection, leucorrhea, etc.). This is due to the fact that washing the vagina can change its PH, making it more vulnerable to pathogen infection, irritation, and inflammation. The delicate vaginal mucosa is compromised, which can reduce physiological lubrication and cause pain and discomfort for the intimate areas during sexual activity.
On the other hand, sociocultural/ethical considerations are my second, big NO. As was previously established, the trend’s message is anti-health women’s and in favor of a patriarchal vision of what a woman should look like. The idea that virginity and purity increase a woman’s value is represented by the idea of the “clean,” “pure,” and “immaculate” female. This idea is antiquated, although it is not yet definitely outdated. This portrayal of women as being “clean” runs the risk of making them feel wrong and underrepresented, and most importantly, it puts them under constant pressure to adhere to a purity that society requires but which does not truly promote wellbeing.