Personal hygiene, periods and how to feel good
For many of us, living with periods may mean changing our routines according to our menstrual cycle. But does our monthly flow make personal hygiene even more important? Should we wash differently or more often? We’ve got you covered with all the answers!
Why is personal hygiene important on your period?
However heavy or light our period is, it’s normal to feel a little less fresh on those days than during the rest of our cycle – this isn’t because there is anything wrong or dirty about menstrual blood: our bodies are simply acting differently! But yes, personal hygiene is extra important when periods come around. Hormones and changes in our vagina’s pH levels can alter the smell of our V-Zones (the vagina, vulva and V-shaped front you can see) and sometimes increase our chances of developing a bacterial infection such as thrush or Bacterial Vaginosis (BV). While the majority of these infections are treatable, dealing with them on a regular basis is very annoying.
However this doesn’t mean that you need to constantly worry about how “clean” you are – there’s no need to shower all day! But, it is a good idea to make a habit of washing your body and hands, wearing clean clothes, and brushing your hair and teeth every day (as you would whether you’re on your period or not). And then of course, when your monthly flow does come around, changing your period products regularly is one more thing to stay on top of.
So what are the best ways to keep your V-Zone feeling good during your period?
How should you wash your V-Zone during your period?
There’s no need to change the way you wash your intimate skin during your period, but some women+ prefer to wash more than once a day when it’s really heavy.
If you have noticed that certain body shower gels or soaps leave your vulva skin dry or irritated, then you may want to try intimate washes. These types of washes are specifically designed to support your vulva’s natural pH and keep you feeling fresh and comfy even after your shower.
Keep in mind never to wash inside your vagina (also known as ‘douching’), because this could get rid of some healthy bacteria and cause a pH imbalance. Basically, vaginas are self-cleaning, so just let yours do its thing!
How often should you change your period products?
Whether you use tampons, sanitary pads, menstrual cups or reusable period pants, it’s a good idea to change them regularly to keep you feeling fresh and comfortable. Exactly how many times a day will depend on your personal preference and flow. In general, you may need to change more frequently when your flow is at its heaviest – usually the first two days of your period. Also, and although it is a very rare condition, it’s especially important to change your tampon often to make sure that you’re not at risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).
At night, consider a sanitary pad designed for sleep, as it will hold your flow for longer and let you snooze comfortably all night long.
What underwear should you wear on your period?
While lots of people have a preferred underwear style, many choose those with a bit more coverage to feel extra comfy on their period. What’s more important than the style, though, is the materials. Some synthetic fabrics tend to increase moisture and heat, an inviting environment for bad bacteria and smells to affect your V-Zone. Cotton underwear, however, is known for its breathability and comfort, making it a good option throughout your monthly cycle.
Keep in mind that period pants are also a common choice for many people as this kind of underwear is specially designed to absorb blood like a regular pad but with all the comfort of your usual underwear.
What if your V-Zone doesn’t smell ‘normal’ on your period?
Remember – it’s completely normal for your V-Zone to have its own unique smell at different times of your cycle and especially when you’re on your period. For instance, it’s normal for menstrual blood to leave a metallic scent behind--it’s nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about! However, if you keep a daily personal hygiene routine and still notice a strong smell you never had before, it’s a good idea to book in to see your doctor and check if there’s an infection.
Let’s be honest, there are days when we are not in the mood for our routines. But practising personal hygiene doesn’t have to be a chore. You can enjoy this time by listening to your favourite podcast while taking a bath or treating yourself to special products that make you feel good! Working out which periods products suit you and taking on a routine that fits around your schedule and preferences can make a big difference in helping you look after your personal hygiene. It may be useful to think of this routine as “you time”, something you do for yourself and by yourself. Taking a moment out of your day to show your body some good old-fashioned care can really help with your emotional wellbeing too, especially when on your period.
The medical information in this article is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please consult your doctor for guidance about a specific medical condition.