I recently caused an uproar in my clinic. I was seeing a young woman, I will call Irene, who was having urinary issues and part of her complaints was external vulvar burning. We go through the usual evaluation: history, physical, meds, habits.
I then asked if she douches, which women should NEVER do. The vagina is a self-cleaning oven. One does not need to flush stuff in it to get it clean.No, but I do use soap to wash down there?Oh, no, no, no.
The vagina’s pH is acidic (about 4) and most soap is basic (anything above 7). At best they are neutral (7).
You must have a base, or caustic solution to make soap. The two most common caustic solutions in use for soap making today are sodium hydroxide (lye) [NaOH] and potassium hydroxide [KOH], both bases.
Here are some sample pH values:
Irene, as well as the nurse and nursing student following me in my clinic, were surprised with this fact. They were all using soap in that area; as do the majority of our nurses and patients, I am coming to find out. In essence, they are going against the natural way the vagina keeps itself healthy by counteracting the vagina’s pH and neutralizing it.
I normally do not endorse any products, but since I told you what NOT to use, I should at least give alternatives. Plus, when I showed this article to some of my co-workers, they all wanted to know what was safe to use.
Summer’s Eve for sensitive skin and Sweet Spot Brand (Small Stones
, a Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health resource center, carries this one). We actually tested these products with pH paper in the clinic and the pH’s came out to 4, which match the vagina.
So ladies, please, please, please do not use soap to clean the vaginal area. Tell your mother, sister and friends not to use soap. Water is good enough. If you must, for whatever reason (habit, fear of odor, just want to), use soap, there are pH-balanced (to the vagina, not just pH-balanced, as in, neutral) products out there.
Also, if there is truly a smell that is quite offensive, I would consult your doctor as this may be a medical issue.
The following is feedback received for this blog:
The article about soap was really surprizing! I will forward it to my girl friends. Thank you.
- Kathleen T.
I never heard of this before. I wonder if this would help some VV patients. I'm going to add you to my site. Thanks!
-- Lauren Kunis
Re: 'I fell I have to inform you'. Who ever knew?! Dr. Kressin's information re: the PH of soap is fasinating and clearly makes sense. Gardeners know that the soil PH needs to meet specific flower requirements to provide vibrant, gourgeous, long lasting flowers. Ladies, we are so much like flowers. Dr. Kressin's PH insite, I'm sure, will help my husabnd and me. thank you Dr. Kressin!
- E. Lauren