Understanding the female intimate areas
Intimate areas of the body are typically those that are covered by undergarments or are considered private. These areas can vary depending on cultural and individual norms but generally include:
- Genitalia: This refers to the external and internal reproductive organs. The external part is called vulva and the internal is vagina.
- Anal area: This includes the anus and the surrounding Skin as well as the rectum.
- Breasts: Depending on cultural norms and personal preference, some people may consider breasts to be an intimate area.
- Buttocks: The buttocks are often considered an intimate area as they are typically covered by clothing.
The female genitalia is a complex and important part of a woman’s body. Despite its significance, it remains one of the least understood areas of female anatomy which often leads to myths, misconceptions and misinformation. Understanding the female genitalia is crucial for maintaining good reproductive and sexual health, promoting healthy relationships and to empower women to take better care of their bodies to improve overall health and wellbeing.
Anatomy of the vulva
The vulva is the external part of the female genitalia and is made up of several parts. These include:
- Mons pubis: The fatty area located above the pubic bone that is covered in pubic hair.
- Labia majora: The larger outer folds of Skin that surround the vulva. They contain sweat and oil glands.
- Labia minora: The smaller inner folds of Skin that protect the clitoris and vaginal opening. They are thinner and more delicate than the labia majora.
- Clitoris: A highly sensitive and erectile organ located at the front of the vulva where the labia minora meet.
- Vestibule: The area between the labia minora that contains the vaginal opening, urethral opening and the Bartholin’s glands (which produce lubrication during sexual arousal).
- Vaginal opening: The opening to the vagina which is a muscular tube that leads to the cervix and uterus. The vagina is where menstrual blood and sexual secretions exit the body, and where penetration occurs during sexual intercourse.
- Urethral opening: The opening where urine exits the body. It is located above the vaginal opening and is not part of the reproductive system, but it is important for urinary tract health.
Hygiene of the vulva
Proper vulva hygiene is important for preventing infection, reducing irritation and discomfort and maintaining good reproductive and sexual health. Here are some tips for maintaining good hygiene:
- Wash the area with warm water: Use warm, not hot, water to clean the vulva. Avoid using soap, as it can disrupt the Natural pH balance and microbiome of the area and cause irritation.
- Use a gentle intimate cleanser for the outer area: Use a mild cleanser designed for the sensitive Skin of the vulva but avoid getting the cleanser inside the vagina.
- Wipe from front to back: When using the toilet, always wipe from front to back to avoid spreading bacteria from the anus to the vulva.
- Avoid douching: Douching, or rinsing the vagina with water or other fluids, is not necessary and can actually increase the risk of infection and other problems.
- Wear breathable clothing: Wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothing to allow air to circulate and prevent moisture buildup, which can increase the risk of infection.
- Change pads and tampons frequently: Change menstrual products frequently to avoid trapping moisture and bacteria.
- Use protection during sexual activity: Use condoms or other forms of protection during sexual activity to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections.
Common topical Concerns of the vulva
It is important to see a healthcare provider if you experience any persistent concerning symptoms or have questions about your reproductive or sexual health. Common reasons to see a healthcare provider are pain or discomfort, changes in discharge, abnormal bleeding, signs of infection, screening exams, birth control and sexual health.
However, it’s not always infections or underlying health issues that cause discomfort in the vulva. There are several topical concerns that can arise with the vulva which can be managed by specifically designed intimate skincare. These may include:
- Dryness: The vulva can become dry due to hormonal changes, menopause, certain medications or inadequate lubrication during sexual activity. This can cause discomfort, itching and irritation.
- Discoloration: Changes in pigmentation or darkening of the Skin in the vulva can occur due to hormonal changes, pregnancy or certain Skin conditions.
- Ingrown hairs: Intimate hair removal can sometimes lead to ingrown hairs in the vulva which can cause redness, swelling and discomfort.
- Itching and irritation: Allergic reactions to hygiene products, clothing materials or certain chemicals can cause itching, irritation and in severe cases rashes in the vulva.
- Odour: While a persistent, strong odour in the genitalia can be a sign of an infection, pH and microbiome imbalance can also be the cause of malodour.
Can I use face and body skincare products on vulva?
The Skin on the vulva is different from the Skin on other parts of the body in a number of ways:
- Moisture: The Skin on the vulva is typically moist as it is in close contact with the mucous membranes of the vagina. This makes it more prone to irritation and infection than other areas of the body.
- Sensitivity: The Skin on the vulva is highly sensitive as it contains a large number of nerve endings. This can make it more sensitive to touch and to certain products such as soaps and detergents.
- Hair: The Skin on the vulva may have hair which is not typically found on other areas of the body. The hair helps to protect the vulva from external irritants and bacteria.
- Thickness: The Skin on the vulva is typically thinner than the Skin on other areas of the body. This can make it more susceptible to tearing and damage during sex, childbirth or other activities.
- pH: The Skin on the vulva has a slightly acidic pH, which helps to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. This is different from the pH of other areas of the body which are typically higher pH.
- Secretions: The Skin on the vulva is in contact with various secretions such as vaginal discharge or sweat. These secretions can affect the pH of the area and may contribute to odour or discomfort if not properly managed.
- Microbiome: The microbiome of the genital area plays an important role in maintaining the health of the area. A healthy genital microbiome helps to prevent infections. It does this by creating an environment that is hostile to harmful bacteria and other pathogens.
It is not recommended to use face and body skincare products on the vulva. The genital area has its own natural microbiome and pH balance which can be disrupted by the use of inappropriate products. The use of harsh or fragranced products on the genital area can upset this natural balance leading to irritation, itching, discomfort and potentially increased risk of infection.
What to look for in an intimate care product?
When looking for an intimate care product, it is important to choose products that are gentle and appropriate for the sensitive Skin in the vulva area. Here are some things to look for in a high-quality vulva care product:
- pH balance: The pH of the vulva area is naturally acidic, and using products that are too alkaline can disrupt the natural balance of the area and increase the risk of infection.
- Prebiotics: Prebiotics support the natural intimate microbiome balance. They are food supplements for friendly organisms while harmful organisms cannot use them as a food source. Even when the natural balance is disturbed, in presence of prebiotics, friendly organisms can recover and grow faster than the harmful ones.
- Gentle ingredients: The Skin in the vulva area is delicate and sensitive so it’s important to choose products that are free from harsh or irritating ingredients such as fragrances and dyes.
- Moisturising and hydrating properties: The vulva area is prone to dryness, especially in postmenopausal women, so it’s important to choose products that are formulated with moisturising and hydrating ingredients. These ingredients can help to soothe and hydrate the Skin, reducing the risk of irritation.
- Anti-inflammatory properties: Intimate care products containing anti-inflammatory ingredients can help to reduce inflammation and irritation in the vulva area.
- Free from harmful chemicals: Avoid products that contain ingredients that are known to be harmful. These ingredients can be irritating or disrupt the natural balance of the vulva area.
Remember that every person’s body is different, so what works well for one person may not work for another. If you have concerns about your vulva area or want personalised recommendations for vulva care products, please reach out to us HERE.
Daily Intimate Care Routine
Perfect starting routine for maintaining your intimate Skin areas.
This 3 Step Routine Includes:
- Prebiotic Intimate Hydrating Gel (75ml)
- Prebiotic Intimate Cleansing Micellar Serum (75ml)
- Gentle Intimate Cleansing Gel (75ml)