Sexual Hygiene is a topic which is not frequently and openly discussed. It is not very different from hygiene of any other part of our body but because it involves cleaning of private parts it is a taboo subject.
Children should be taught at an early age to wash their private parts with just water. Washing should always done front to back to prevent contamination from fecal material. A clean cotton underwear should be worn. For boys, pushing back the foreskin and cleaning should be done while bathing.
Sexual hygiene: learn during puberty
When children attain puberty certain extra precautions need to be taken. Hair can be trimmed. Waxing, using hair removal creams should be discouraged. But ultimately it is a personal choice. When menstruating, pads should be changed every 4-6 hours. Pads can be disposable or reusable cotton pads. Tampons should also be changed frequently. Holding urine for long intervals should also be discouraged.
A world about pads – all pads available in the market are made of synthetic gels which have high absorbing capacity but these have increased the incidence of skin irritation and infection during periods. Good quality pure cotton pads are ideal to deal with this. They are reusable, economical and environmentally friendly. Menstrual cups are also a good alternative.
Cleaning genital area after sexual activity is very important. Urinating just after intercourse has some role in preventing urinary tract infection. Genitals should be washed gently with water and a dry clean underwear worn. Men need to roll back foreskin and wash. Condom usage is mandatory if partners are being changed or if one partner suffers from any sexually transmitted disease. Anal sex should never be followed by vaginal sex. Douching of the vagina is to be discouraged as it interferes with the vaginal flora.
Adult toys and sexual hygiene
These days usage of sex toys has increased. These are made of different materials such as polyvinyl chloride, thermo plastic rubber, elastone, silicon, steel, latex and glass. They can be wiped with a wet cloth just after use. The next day they can be rinsed or boiled. Some come with cleaning instructions which can be followed. There should be no sharing of sex toys with other people. So keep your toys to yourself.
Another frequent misconception is the use of vaginal washes and sprays. All such products are made of chemicals though they many advertise otherwise. All chemicals are harmful to the skin of the vaginal area . So using such products many cause more harm than benefits. The vaginal area is supposed to be a little moist and nature has its own way of dealing with mild problems. So washes and spray are of no use and are a gimmick used by advertising companies.
In conclusion sexual hygiene has long term consequences regarding fertility so should never be ignored. Good practices need to be adopted at an early age for a healthy sexual and reproductive life.
Author: Dr Valleri Ramakrishnan, Parivar Seva Sanstha.
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