PSA: Cleanliness

by Jason Stotts

I really feel like I shouldn’t have to write this post, but I fear that all too many people don’t understand basic hygiene well enough that it’s warranted.

One of my readers pointed out that in a Savage Love podcast sometime back (Episode 188 at the 5:30 mark) a man had a question about his girlfriend who’s “lady parts” smelled bad.  He said that even after she got out of the shower, she still smelled bad and he thought that she didn’t even rinse her parts.  He thought that it should be okay to wash her “vagina,” but said he had heard that it was bad and so was calling Dan to find out the truth. Dan completely missed what the caller was actually asking, told him it definitely wasn’t a good idea to get soap into her “vagina,” and encouraged the reader to send his girlfriend to the gynecologist.  The problem is that these people were all talking at cross purposes because they were using language in a fuzzy way.

In terms of a woman’s lower genitalia, the outer part that you can see is the vulva and it includes the mons (pubic mound), the clitoris, the labia (inner and outer), and the perenium.  In the vulva there is an opening to the vagina, which is the canal through which babies pass and into which you put a penis.  The entire area is not the vagina, that’s as stupid as calling the entire front of the head the “nose,” since that part sticks out.

Do you see the problem yet? It’s true that you shouldn’t get soap inside the vaginal canal, but it’s not true that you shouldn’t wash your vulva.  In fact, you very much should be washing your vulva as otherwise dried urine, sweat, oil, and dead skin will accumulate and cause a bad smell, the same as it does with the male penis, especially on unmutilated men.  Failing to use the correct terms for the body can result in failing to understand proper medical advice.

I find it truly sad that people don’t even know the name for their body parts because of the christian fear of sexuality and hatred of the body prevents us from having proper sex education in schools and real discussions around these issues.

Photo Credit: Wiki Commons

4 Responses to “PSA: Cleanliness”

  1. Kelly Valenzuela

    Washing the vulva with soap can be a problem for some women. Soap can irritate sensitive skin, and even cause infection if a little gets into the urethra. My OBGYN recommends cleaning it, of course, but either finding a very mild soap or just using your fingers with warm water, and always wash front to back.

  2. JasonStotts

    Very good points. Also, unscented soaps tend to cause less irritation, so it’s advisable to use them, even if you have to buy special vulva soap.

  3. Chris

    A healthy vagina doesn’t smell after a shower. Both Jason and the husband seem to not be aware of this. This is not a soap and water issue at all.

    Sounds more like the woman has a BACTERIAL INFECTION (Vaginosis) in which case soap is NOT going to do anything for her. She needs a doctor’s check up and a prescription of Flagyl!

    Bacterial vaginosis is the most common vaginal infection in women of reproductive age. It is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria that are usually present in the vagina.

    Bacterial vaginosis has a strong, “fishy” odor. Yeah, it stinks! Many women with bacterial vaginosis have no other symptoms and only discover they have it during a routine gynecologic exam.

  4. JasonStotts

    I’m pretty sure you missed the entire point of this article. The woman wasn’t even letting water get in her VULVA because she was afraid because she had been told not to wash her VAGINA. The man was complaining about an unclean VULVA, which was causing the smell, not an infection in the VAGINA.

    It is important for women to at least rinse, if not wash with soap, their VULVAS, but to not get soap into their VAGINAS.