Do women need a vaginal wash? That is, do we need to buy a wash that is made especially for our vagina? Can’t regular body wash do the trick? We sat down with Dr. Barb, Board Certified OB/GYN, and co-founder of Kushae, to ask her all about the world of feminine wash: what’s so special about a feminine wash, why women should invest in one, what you should look for in a vaginal wash, and what to avoid when choosing the best wash for your vagina!
Q: Dr. Barb thank you so much for joining us. First things first, why do you recommend a vaginal wash to your patients?
Dr. Barb: As an OB/GYN for over 17 years, I’ve cared for thousands of women. Over the years, I have seen many of the same complaints from women about issues that are affecting their vaginal health, such as yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis (aka BV). Each of these complaints is actually caused by an imbalance of a woman’s vaginal pH and many of these feminine health issues can be avoided by maintaining and balancing your pH levels. However, the cause of most women are unaware of why pH balance is important and how to manage their own pH balance they rely on physicians as the two suggest and over the counter solution or medication to fix the issues ones they’ve suffered with these issues for days or sometimes even weeks at a time. Currently, yeast infections are one of the most common complaints that gynaecologists see in their offices and although women believe antibiotics can help, they actually cannot. In fact, yeast infection is a clear sign of a pH imbalance.
By using a feminine wash, you can help balance your own pH levels every single day and should be able to avoid yeast infections and many of the feminine health issues I mentioned earlier. Important note: Women should not be using any wash or douche INSIDE their vagina (where a tampon would go). If there is an issue with vaginal odor or feminine odor that stems from inside their vagina, ladies please consult your physician.
Q: You mentioned a lot about pH balance. What is the right pH for a woman’s vagina?
Dr. Barb: The pH scale ranges from 1-14 (1 being highly acidic and 14 being highly alkaline). As a point of reference, water is neutral at a pH of 7. In order to maintain a healthy vaginal flora or the best bacterial environment for your vagina, a woman’s pH should fall within a range of 3.8 -4.5 on the pH scale. This range is highly acidic, as it falls below Soaps, liquid soaps bar soaps are old made from the same so base, and so bases are quite alkaline, which is the opposite of the optimal vaginal pH. The best vaginal washes will be pH balanced, meaning they are slightly acidic, which will help a woman’s vagina to remain in the proper pH range.
Q: We’ve met with hundreds of women and what we find is that only 25% of women understand the importance of a feminine wash; 65% suggest they use regular soap or body wash all over including their vaginas, and about 10% state that they only use water. Are the women who are using just water or plain soap wrong, or can those things also do the job?
Dr. Barb: What a woman wants to do for her personal hygiene routine is totally up to her…but I would not recommend using regular soap, body wash, or even plain water to clean your vagina. Here’s why: water does not have cleansing agents that can clean dirt and oil from the surface of the external vagina. Think about it: oil and water don’t mix. It’s the reason why you use soap on your body, shampoo on your hair…you are trying to rid your body and scalp of dirt and oils; your external vaginal skin is still skin…it has dirt and oils, too that should be cleaned every single day. As it relates to body washes or even natural soaps, they all share a soap “base”, and that soap base is quite alkaline, with common pH levels between 8-10.
Those pH levels have the ability to disrupt the normal pH balance of a woman and potentially send her into a pH imbalance which can lead to issues like Bacterial Vaginosis, yeast infections, etc. At the end of the day, soap and/or water are not my recommendations. A pH balanced feminine wash is ideal.
Q: There are lots of Feminine wash products on the market. Some are handmade by women and contain natural herbs and some are commercially available. What should a woman be looking for in a vaginal wash? And what should we avoid?
Dr. Barb: There are several things you want to make sure your feminine wash has. First, it should be pH balanced. There are ways you can even test your product to make sure it truly is. Second, a good feminine wash should be made of natural, plant-based ingredients. Did you know that 60% of what you put on your skin will be absorbed into your bloodstream? If that’s the case, what you use on your vagina should be natural, plant-based ingredients. Remember the issue with talc, and how women were using it in their panties to keep their vaginas dry? Well, there is a lawsuit currently against companies who used talc (i.e. in baby powder) because hundreds of cases have been brought forth linking talc powder to ovarian cancer. Last I checked, the average woman couldn’t see her ovaries, much less put something on them. So how did the talc get to her ovaries? The absorption power of the vaginal skin.
On another note, natural ingredients are best for the sensitive skin too. Many feminine wash products on the market today contain artificial and chemical ingredients, including fragrances, which cause irritation, vaginal itching, and more to women. Look for products that are fragrance FREE, with plant-based ingredients, and no artificial, chemical, or synthetic ingredients, basically ingredients you can't pronounce. Thirdly, avoid a vaginal wash that contains glycerin. NO Glycerin! Glycerin is oftentimes added to vaginal washes to act as a moisturizing agent, BUT, it is a sugar based ingredient which can feed yeast. If you are potentially feeding the yeast, it may cause an overgrowth of yeast, which could lead to recurrent yeast infections. NO glycerin! Lastly, you want a feminine wash that contains no chemical, artificial, or synthetic ingredients. Be sure to read the ingredients of the feminine wash that you use. If you can’t pronounce the words, they are probably chemical ingredients that you should not be using on your vagina or even your body for that matter.
Q: Are there any feminine washes you would recommend, Dr. Barb? What is the best vaginal wash?
Dr. Barb: Sure! I can think of one. Because of such a lack of commitment to women’s health in the feminine care space, I created a feminine care product line, called Kushae, which includes a feminine foaming wash, among other products. This vaginal wash is the only wash created by an OB/GYN women’s health expert, has all-natural, plant-based ingredients, and is made with no chemical, synthetic, or artificial ingredients. Check out Kushae today…it’s all-natural care for down there!