Feminine hygiene self-care tips: keeping clean throughout your cycle
Did you know that there are four distinct phases within your menstrual cycle? Each phase is unique, and you’ll probably find everything from your emotions to your vaginal discharge varies week on week. Establishing a feminine hygiene self-care routine that’s perfect for your body can reduce the risk of infection, help to maintain healthy vaginal pH levels, and boost your confidence.
The four stages of the menstrual cycle
- Menstruation (your period)
This marks the start of your menstrual cycle and lasts for around 2-7 days.
- Follicular phase
The follicular phase overlaps with your period. It begins the first day of menstruation and usually lasts for around 16 days, right up until you ovulate.
Ovulation happens when an egg is released from one of your ovaries. It usually happens around 12-16 days before your next period.
- Luteal phase
Period hygiene tips
Proper intimate self-care during your period is important. Be sure to change your period products regularly (every 2-4 or 4-6 hours depending on the type of product and your flow levels). Vaginal pH levels during your period are slightly higher, meaning you might be a little more prone to bacterial infections during this time.
Your vagina is self-cleaning, so there’s no need to clean it internally. Your vulva (the external parts of your genitals) is not self-cleaning. If you choose to use something to clean your vulva other than water, opt for a natural intimate wash, free from glycerin, parabens, hormones, fragrances, and skin irritants. Check out AH! YES® CLEANSE here for a certified organic option.
Natural intimate wipes are also an excellent choice for freshness on the go during your period. We’re delighted to now stock Natracare organic intimate wipes. Natracare’s products are pH balanced, made without parabens or alcohol, and made using organic cotton. They are also biodegradable and plastic-free.
Feminine hygiene during the follicular phase
In the lead-up to ovulation, you’ll likely experience a surge in estrogen which thickens the lining of your uterus and creates more mucus. This creates a safe environment for an embryo to grow. The good news is this hormonal change may give your energy levels and sex drive a well-needed boost! If you’re having more sex, be sure to use the right kind of lube. Organic and pH-matched are best to avoid irritation and reduce the risk of infection. Urinating and washing your genitals after sex can also help to prevent UTIs.
An increase in white, cloudy, or sticky discharge is common during this phase. You may reach for a box of pantiliners during this time or opt to use natural wipes on your vulva to remove excess discharge. Cotton panties are a must because they absorb excess moisture, are breathable, and can be sterilized after use.
Remember, discharge is your friend. It’s your body’s way of keeping things clean and balanced. Avoid douching the vagina or using harsh soaps on the vulval area as these can cause irritation and dryness, and leave you vulnerable to infection.
Feminine hygiene during Ovulation
During ovulation, you might find yourself sweating more than usual due to a rise in body temperature. Don’t be concerned if you’re also wetter than any other time of the month – vaginal discharge usually surges during ovulation.
Keep cool down there by wearing loose, cotton underwear, and make sure if you opt for pantiliners you choose organic cotton which will minimize irritation. If you choose to shower more often whilst you’re ovulating, make sure to treat the delicate tissues of your vagina and vulva with the care they deserve!
Feminine Hygiene during the Luteal Phase
In the lead-up to your period, your emotions might feel a little out of whack as your progesterone levels rise and then fall again just before your period. You might experience PSM, mood swings, bloating, appetite changes, and fatigue- to name a few!
During the luteal phase, you’re likely to see white discharge which is known as leukorrhea. It's filled with fluid and cells that are being shed from the vagina and may even look slightly yellow at times.
Is it normal for my vagina to smell?
In short, yes! Your vagina will likely have a smell that is unique to you. If this odor is unpleasant, it might be a result of a build-up of natural bacteria on the vulva due to sweat or discharge. A good feminine hygiene routine will help to keep you feeling and smelling fresh.
There are some instances when vaginal odor might indicate infection. Grey or yellow discharge or a fishy or unpleasant smell should be checked by your OBG-YN or doctor. Infections such as bacterial vaginosis, thrush, and certain STIs can sometimes cause unpleasant vaginal odor.