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Feminine Hygiene

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The terms 'feminine hygiene' were being used in the US in the 1930s to mean birth control. In present times, these two terms are employed in their euphemistic sense to mean 'personal care' products such as sanitary napkins, towels, tampons and menstrual cups and feminine wipes that are used during menstruation, vaginal discharge etc.


Proper feminine hygiene is a critical part of overall health and wellness of women. In fact many of the complications that result during pregnancy and childbirth are attributed to poor vaginal hygiene.


Body odors

Puberty is the time all kinds of changes are noticed in the body. There are a wide variety of deodorants, douches and feminine sprays or wipes available in the market to assist in keeping the vaginal area smelling clean and fresh, by reducing moisture and controlling odor.


However, there are times when an infection like 'bacterial vaginitis' causes an unpleasant fishy odor. Odors caused by vaginal infections should be treated with prescription medication rather than by a deodorant spray that covers it up. It is imperative that the vagina be kept clean. Washing daily with a mild soap and plenty of warm water is the basic trick. Showering in warm water during the periods should help reduce menstrual cramps and give reassurance of cleanliness.


Feminine sprays and deodorants are heavily perfumed and can lead to allergic reactions. In fact the vagina has its own natural cleaning system and flushes out bacteria. There is no need for external chemical use to help clean it. The term douching is derived from the French word for 'wash' referring to vaginal wash with prepackaged mix of fluids. But douching should never be done without a doctor's advice. It can cause allergic reactions, irritation and even infections in the vagina.


Menstruation and personal hygiene

Interestingly, it is estimated that most women experience nearly about 500 menstrual cycles or about 2000 period days during a span of years that lasts approximately half the life.


During menstruation she should change the napkins or tampons frequently, bathe daily and wear clean clothes to avoid semblance of any smell. Again it should be a wise idea to keep a spare pair of inners in the backpack to change in case she happens to soak through the pad or tampon. Here are some hygiene tips that can help sail through the challenging monthly cycle comfortably:


  • It is essential that she finds the best fit in sanitary pads and napkins. Shops store thin, long, contoured and winged versions of such pads along with those meant for night time use or light days. Some napkins come with deodorized protection as well. Nowadays most have sealed tapes with tabs that can be pulled off for adhesion to undergarments.

  • Napkins should be changed frequently. This would ensure her fresher and comfortable while reducing the risk of leaks and odor at once.

  • Deodorant products should not be applied directly to the reproductive areas. They tend to cause irritation and possibly even cancer when used overtime in the under clothing in some women.

  • Since during menstruation the cervix is stretched and dilated mimicking childbirth, the uterus is tend to be more prone to infection. Therefore, foreign objects and fragrances should be kept at bay.

During perimenopause, when periods become more irregular and less predictable, you can use light pantiliner and keep a more durable pad for heavier days. There are sanitary pads that offer odor freshness and control associated with menopausal vaginal dryness.


Yeast infection is one of the most common in woman due to internal buildup of yeast. It can cause severe itching and redness and if left untreated it can cause severe health concerns. Often a cream or suppository is prescribed for treating yeast infection which takes a week to clear up.


Perspiration/sweat

During puberty, chances are that the sweat glands are overactive than before and roughly 3 million sweat glands become more active. They begin to secrete different chemicals into the sweat which emit a stronger smelling odor especially in the armpits, groin and on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet and private parts.


Bathing with a mild soap in warm water will help wash away the bacteria and the smell. Wearing clean inners and clothing and socks should help. While deodorants help rid of the odor of sweat, anti perspirants actually stop perspiration by drying it up. While choosing deodorants and anti perspirants it is important to read the directions for use.


It is preferable to wear cotton undergarments especially during hot weather. If sweating is too much of a problem it is better to consult a doctor as this might be a sign to a medical problem.


Bad breath

Bad breath also called halitosis can pose a major hazard especially during snuggle with a sweet heart or while whispering a joke to a friend. Certain simple and effective steps can help prevent bad breath.


As such bad breath is caused by odor producing bacteria that grow in the mouth. Lack of proper brushing and flossing can lead to accumulation of bacteria on the bits of food left in the mouth between the teeth. The sulfur compounds released by these bacteria cause the breath to smell. Sometimes pungent foods like garlic and onions and certain oils can cause bad breath. Smoking is also a major reason for bad breath.


A mouthwash which contains an antiseptic and plaque reducing agents should be chosen.


Sugar free gums and mints can only temporarily mask odors. It is imperative to brush and floss regularly to contain bad breath. Sometimes bad breath may be due to a medical problem such as sinusitis or gum diseases. Under such circumstances, consult a doctor or a dentist for advice.



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