Illustrations by Exoticdirtbag
Sexy time can be fun and awesome. Maintaining good hygiene can make it even better, with no nasty surprises afterwards! Here’s how to beat all those khujlis, khich-khichs and itch-itches in awkward places, with some useful tips on keeping clean.
Have a bath everyday
Why? Because germs accumulate on our body all the time! Our skin produces its own sweat and natural oils, and all these combined with bacteria can cause body odours or even skin infections if allowed to build up.
When you do, spend a little extra time washing your privates.
Why? For all of us, the genital area has lots of little folds and crevices. It’s easy for germs and body secretions to build up in these hard-to-reach places, so it’s especially important to remember to wash them.
Wear loose underwear made of natural materials, like cotton.
Why? It helps prevent sweating in the crotch area, which is good for you both bacteria-wise and odour-wise.
You can wax or shave down there if you want, but it doesn’t make you any cleaner.
Some people like to shave or wax for aesthetic reasons, or because they feel the hair traps odour, but it might actually do more harm than good. Why? Pubic hair acts as a barrier, protecting against harmful bacteria and viruses entering the body. Shaving or waxing can lead to skin irritation and damage.
If you do choose to wax, go to a clean salon, or use waxing strips and clean them thoroughly once you use them if they’re reusable, else just go with disposable. Avoid wearing tight underwear for a few days after waxing.
If you choose to shave, do it carefully and use a sharp, fresh razor – never a blunt one – because you could cut yourself, and that would lead to a lot of pain and open up the possibility of the cut getting infected. Just like with waxing, avoid tight underwear to prevent ingrown hairs.
Wash soon after you have sex.
No need to jump straight from your happy feelings to the bathroom. But do wash relatively soon after sex. Why? Lots of different body fluids come into contact with the area when you’re having sex, especially if you’re having a really good time. You need to wash away all those sexual secretions + sweat to make sure you don’t get an infection caused by a build up of strange bacteria.
If you use sex toys, clean them when you’re done.
Why? Because they pick up body fluids and bacteria, and putting them away without cleaning them ups your chances of infections from fungus or other nasties that may be on them the next time you use them.
Don’t use soap to clean your vagina.
Or douches or feminine sprays or perfumed stuff. Why? Your vagina cleans itself! It contains good bacteria that act as self-cleaners (and can help you keep you safe from yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis), and you don’t want to wash these away with soap, as it also alters the vagina’s very precise pH balance. Just warm water will do the trick.
Remember that it’s completely normal for your privates to have a particular smell. Unless you detect a fishy odour – which could be a sign of a yeast infection – you’re fine!
When having sex, change condoms between oral/anal sex and vaginal sex.
Why? The anus and mouth both contain different kinds of bacteria that you don’t exactly want to introduce to your vagina. The anus could also have traces of faecal matter, which obviously has no business in your vagina.
Try to pee soon after having sex.
You don’t have to necessarily rush off to the bathroom right after (unless you badly have to pee anyway), but it’s a good idea to go soon after, or at least, don’t hold it in.
Why? During sex, the urethra comes in contact with bacteria from the genitals and the mouth, and this can introduce bacteria into the system, causing urinary tract infections (UTIs) which can be super painful. Peeing soon after has been shown to help reduce the risk of getting one.
If you use toilet paper, wipe front to back.
As they say to children, from su-su end to potty-end. Why? It prevents faecal matter or germs from the anus getting in touch with the vulva. Remember, the vulva is quite sensitive and has its own army of native bacteria, you don’t want to go introducing new ones to the region.
Change your pad every three to four hours.
And if you use a tampon, change it every four to eight hours. If you use a menstrual cup, empty it at least twice a day. Why? Bacteria can grow in the collected blood, causing serious problems like Toxic Shock Syndrome, which can even be fatal.
Keep the genital area dry.
After using the toilet, or bathing or swimming, remember to wash and dry your penis. Why? Bacteria and fungi thrive in dark, moist places. Keeping this area dry helps prevent infections like jock’s itch – an itchy type of ringworm, from occurring.
Don’t use talc, deodorants or harsh soap on your penis – they can cause skin irritation.
Wash under the foreskin.
If you have a penis, you should make it a practice to gently pull back the foreskin to wash the head of the penis (just warm water will do) while bathing. Why? This helps clean away any smegma, which is an oily whitish substance that’s a combination of dead skin cells, skin oils and moisture, that tends to collect under the foreskin. It can have an unpleasant odour and become a breeding ground for bacteria, and so it’s important that it doesn’t build up.
Those who are circumcised still need to carefully wash the head of their penis.
Clean the anus last with lots of water and mild soap, and pat dry.
Why? When cleaning the genital region, getting to the anus last prevents faecal matter and bacteria from coming into contact with the penis and urethra.
And don’t forget to clean the region between the testicles and anus to keep it odour-free.