Mary Futher, Founder of kaia naturals
Clean beauty industry maven Mary Futher founded kaia naturals® after spending 20 years working for global beauty companies. Mary now shares her weekly column, delivering a quick fix, home remedy, or clean beauty product suggestion for a variety of human discomforts that some may find too embarrassing to discuss.
Sweating helps our bodies regulate our temperature when it becomes overheated. Unfortunately, some areas of our bodies sweat MORE than others, including this one region that we often don’t talk about, our groin!
DISCLAIMER: Do not use the takesumi detox charcoal deodorant or the underarm bar on the vulva or vagina area.
VAGINA, VULVA, GROIN – AREN’T THEY THE SAME THING?
No, they are NOT the same! It’s important to first make the distinction between the vagina and the vulva.
The vagina is the internal part of the female genitalia. The vulva is the outer part where hair follicles are present and the part that can become sweaty. The vulva includes the vestibule (opening of the vagina), the outer lips (labia majora), the inner lips (labia minora), and the clitoris.
The area where the skin creases at the top of each leg is called the groin.
The vulva is home to a lot of different smells, so it’s important to know how to manage it without doing harm to certain areas.
WHY DOES IT SMELL DOWN THERE?
The vagina does not have any sweat glands, so it’s the vulva and groin area that are responsible for sweat and odor production. Just like with our underarms, the groin houses apocrine glands which secretes a fatty type of sweat that contains proteins. This protein is broken down by bacteria, which results in sweat with a much more distinct odor than from other parts of the body.
Virtually all other parts of the body have eccrine glands (secretes water, less odorous), with the highest density on our palms, feet and head.
As if vaginal sweating isn’t already uncomfortable enough, it can be embarrassing due to odor. Even though deodorant is a great solution for underarm odor, it should never be used on the pubic region as it can throw off the natural pH balance of the body.
THE ULTIMATE CULPRIT FOR ODOR
Typically areas of the body that are dense with hair follicles produce more sweat! With more sweat comes more odor when mixed with bacteria on our skin. These areas include our underarms, our head and of course – the groin area.
However, if you are experiencing increased odor or have abnormal vaginal discharge, you should always consult with your doctor.
HOW TO KEEP IT HEALTHY AND FRESH
1. GENTLE CLEANSING IN THE RIGHT AREAS
The vagina itself is a self-regulating system that must maintain a pH level around 3.8 to 4.5. That is why internal douching is NOT a good idea and can often do more harm than good. However, the exterior area of the vulva where hair follicles grow can be maintained by washing with warm water and a gentle, unscented, pH-balanced soap.
2. COTTON UNDERWEAR
Let it breathe down there! Wearing breathable underwear made of cotton can help to reduce sweating around the groin. A lot of women’s underwear is made of synthetic fabrics that hold heat. Unlike cotton, they do not have the ability to absorb moisture, which means that the sweat stays on your skin. However, if you choose synthetic undies, at a minimum, make sure there is a cotton gusset.
3. AT THE GYM
Not only should you change out of your gym clothes right away, but it is also important to change your underwear after the gym. Spending the day in wet underwear can give yeast the opportunity to grow, and promote the growth of odor-causing bacteria in the area.
4. PUBIC HAIR
Public hair serves the purpose of protecting the skin against friction, abrasions and bacteria; however, in the case of vaginal odor it can sometimes cause problems. Trimming pubic hair can help reduce the amount of sweat produced by the area.
5. PADS & PANTY LINERS
Avoid using menstrual pads or panty liners for vaginal discharge if possible as most of them are made with non-breathable materials. Just like with synthetic underwear, this can result in sweat production.
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