General Health

Washing Your Vulva & Vagina: Soap Isn't A Friend.

HelpingTeens Administration Note: This article and its contents may not necessarily apply to your own body. We believe that a quick wipe over your vagina with a sponge that has body wash or soap or whatever won't be washing away too much of the "helper bacteria" but a more thorough wash using body wash or soap might present a problem. If the soap irritates your skin, you should use a soap without perfume.

For many, washing our vulva with our favourite shower gel or soap is a regular part of our daily routine. We grew up knowing our mothers, sisters, and friends did this and many of us were told that washing themselves with soap is necessary to stay clean and avoid unpleasant odor. How many of us ever stopped to think whether this is what we should be doing or was it just what we were told to do. There are a plethora of products aimed specifically for 'intimate freshness' for women, playing on an idea that we will smell unless we wash with fragranced cleaning products. What's worse is that more than half of the women do not even know that this can be potentially harmful to them and their bodies.

Many women will say soap is fine, even those who know the potential risks will say that a mild soap is still suitable, that they themselves use this without having any problems occurring. However, as true as this may be for those individuals, for a large number of women this can cause problems that can go on without the knowledge of the cause. Regardless of how fine cleaning with soap may feel, it still remains bad for vaginal health; an unnecessary act which is often seen as a necessity.

Women who use soap often do not know any different. It has been ingrained in our mind that to be clean one must use cleaning products but it is often a surprise to women to finally know how harmful this can be. Truthfully women's vaginas and vulvas are not as dirty as some people seem to think, certainly the smell of the vagina is not one that should be removed or covered up. It is not a foul smell and far from something that should repel men as it is a natural sexual attractant.

We as women are supposed to have a smell, we are supposed to have bacteria (both good and bad), we are supposed to have yeast and we are supposed to have fluids leaving our vagina both during menstruation and as everyday discharge. Left to it's own devices the vagina is a self-contained environment, it keeps itself healthy and is self-cleaning so needs little help from us unless an infection occurs, and then it is up to your friendly gynecologist to prescribe just what we need.

That is not to say women cannot take an active role in their vaginal health. Many doctors will support the use of natural remedies to help aid in vaginal health such as the use of yogurt or tea tree oil to treat infection rather than using medical treatments for infection, the more natural things used to treat this delicate environment the better.

For the vulva, soap can be quite traumatic. Firstly, for girls pre-teen and early teens, this can be the first warning sign for soap vaginitis and UTI's. Before puberty, the mucosa can be very sensitive, and it can easily become irritated when it comes in contact with soaps. Many women have sensitive mucosa that can often become inflamed and irritated by the presence of soap. Much like soap can remove oils from your skin and cause irritation and dryness, soap can strip the vulva of it's natural oils as the vulva is naturally moist. This can cause significant irritation and it should also be noted that soaps can cause vaginal dryness which may become an issue if one is sexually active.

For the vagina more problems can occur. Soap can cause irritation and inflammation of the mucosa much in the same way as it would cause irritation of the vulva. This not only causes discomfort but can also leave women more susceptible to STD's. The vagina has a very delicate bacterial and PH balance and with the effect of soaps having differing PH levels, it can affect the normal vaginal PH level and may lead to imbalances in the bacteria levels.

Bacteria are naturally occurring in the vagina however when the anaerobic bacteria, genital mycoplasmas and gardnerella vaginalis overgrow or lactobacilli are reduced, then this can cause bacterial vaginosis. Bacterial vaginosis is a bacterial infection that is common in many women, most commonly caused by this PH imbalance. The symptoms are not always present however when they are women will experience excessive discharge and a foul 'fish' type smell. This infection is not necessarily serious, unless the women has a IUD or the infection progresses further into the vagina, however this infection can be very stubborn to get rid of and modern medicine cannot always guarantee successful treatment. The PH imbalance can also affect the naturally occurring yeast in the vagina, again leading to infection and further irritation through yeast infections.

It may be tempting to use soaps, douches or feminine sprays if an infection is already present, however these will only complicate existing infections. Douching can have these negative effects, as it pushes harmful bacteria farther up into the reproductive system as well as using soap which removes all vaginal bacteria. For women who do not experience infection through use of soap they may well still wish to use soap, however this remains completely unnecessary as your body knows best.

There are also unseen risks, that of synthetic chemicals, many soaps and cleaning product contain synthetic chemicals as a way to improve the shelf life of the product. The majority of modern cosmetics are constructed from complex mixtures of synthetic chemicals. Alone these chemicals pose little risk, however, combined with other products, they can create a cause for concern, particularly if exposed to the delicate mucosa of the vagina and vulva.

Many commonly used chemicals cannot only cause allergic reactions but are suspected hormone disrupters and so are potentially harmful. The skin on our bodies absorbs chemicals in cosmetics but because it has keratinized squamous epithelium, which is the protective outer layer, it is largely protected. However, as the vaginal/vulva mucosa does not have this protective layer, its absorbency is higher. Fragranced soaps alone can contain between 50-100 different fragrances, many of which are potentially harmful. The United Kingdom currently only requires manufacturers to label 'parfum' or in the US 'fragrance' so it is hard to tell the exact chemicals used in specific products.

Triclosan is another concern; a chlorophenol commonly used in soaps and vaginal washes. This kills any type of bacteria it comes across. It cannot tell the difference between what is good and what is bad so it can remove beneficial bacteria. This too can be converted into dioxin with exposure to sunlight in water. Many potentially harmful synthetic chemicals can be found in soaps and washes, it is therefore unwise to use these around an area where absorption rate is high, such as with vaginal mucosa.

Correct bathing would be to avoid allowing chemicals around the vagina and vulva area, such as avoiding bubble baths, or other bathing products containing chemicals which may disturb natural vaginal health. Sometimes we cannot help but get soap in the vulva when showering, and washing the outer labia with soap is perfectly safe, however, using soap specifically to clean the vagina or vulva should be avoided. Although many feminine washes, sprays or talc's may claim to be safe to use these are not needed and more often than not, they are no better than soap.

To clean the vulva gently spread the inner and outer labia to wash between them with your hands while in the bath or shower, wash forwards towards your clitoral head being careful not to clean too harshly or excessively. While cleaning be sure to use your fingers to gently wash away any dead skin within the inner labia and clean away any discharge. The vulva should be dried gently with a towel - remember detergents used on your flannels and towels can also cause irritation and harbour bacteria. An even better method is to avoid friction which causes the spread of bacteria. This can be done by setting a hairdryer on it's cool setting, or better yet, run around the house free and naked.

When drying avoid talc's, these have been linked to numerous cancers, including vulva, vaginal, cervical, uterine and ovarian. Also avoid using sprays. Again, even if advertised as feminine hygiene sprays these too can have a similar effect as soaps.

As tempting as it is if you suffer from infections or feel uneasy about your natural smell it is in your best interests to learn to wash and care for your vagina without the use of soaps, douches, talc's, sprays, wipes or coloured/scented toilet paper.

The Danger Of Tanning Beds.

I recently opened up a membership with a nearby tanning salon, thinking I'd get a quick tan. I'm fare-skinned, so I burn easily. The first time I went, they put me in the tanning bed for 10 minutes and then 10 minutes the time after that and after that. One day I figured I'd go a little longer, so I went 15 minutes, walked out feeling great, got home and still felt fine. The next day I noticed my chest was peeling; so because I was fascinated with peeling the skin off, I peeled some of it off. After I did I noticed that where I had peeled the skin, my chest was burning really badly. I didn't think anything of it until a few hours later. A huge red spot had come clear on my chest and the skin on my chest was ultra-dry. I had a 2nd degree burn on my chest from a tanning salon. It was awful pain. I came to find out that I had unbalanced the PH levels in my skin which has something to do with the amount of acid in the skin levels. I want to share with you my experience and to warn you to be careful with the tanning beds. You may think they are great for quick tans but don't let it fool you. They are very dangerous and have caused many cases of skin cancer. I urge you guys to not use tanning beds if you don't have to. Although I'm not saying the sun is much safer, but if you have fair skin, the sun is definitely better than tanning salons.

Of Course There Is Something Wrong With You.

Hi Everyone!! I hope you're feeling good.

You know what?

Of COURSE there is something 'wrong' with you. You ARE human - after all.

I am often surprised at just how often someone will leave a session with a councilor, psychologist or some other person of the like, and bind themselves with a NEW LABEL of what's 'wrong' with them.

"I have been diagnosed as a <insert diagnosis here>" Well, of course you have been. Why should THAT be surprising? It's their JOB to diagnose you. It's not likely that a councilor or psychologist is going to say, "I can not find anything wrong with you." In fact, would you not feel as if they had FAILED you if they did NOT give you a name to call the issue that you are struggling with? We all WANT a reason to explain our behavior or how we are feeling. "I'm not just a human being trying to deal with life, but I've got THIS problem or THAT problem, and I know because the my doctor told me so."

Why am I saying this?

Is it possible that you DO have a specific problem that CAN be labeled as one thing or another? YES, of course, but keep in mind that a councilor, psychologist, or whoever you go to see is ALSO 'just human', and HUMANS make MISTAKES no matter how educated they may be. So no matter what someone may tell you, always take it for what it is, AN OPINION. Could it be the right 'opinion'? Sure, maybe, but it's STILL JUST AN OPINION.

If someone does diagnose you as having something - don't just accept it and do nothing. Find out if YOU AGREE with that diagnoses, look into it. Do a search on the net to see if that diagnoses 'feels right', get a second opinion from another professional, but do something to see if that diagnoses 'fits' with whatever YOU are dealing with. You have an opinion too don't forget.

One thing that age has taught me is that we are responsible for our OWN lives, for our physical and mental health. Sure, there are exceptions but there are always exceptions. Maybe you do have a problem that is 'out of your hands'. For most of us, it would be a mistake to just throw your arms up in the air whenever someone diagnoses you, and leave it at that. Take an active roll in your own life. If you have a problem (and we ALL have problems) try to do something about it. Don't just hand your life over to someone else and let THEM try to 'fix' you. If you agree with a councilor or psychologist's diagnoses, then work WITH them. If you do not agree, try to think it through logically. Try to find out WHY you think that perhaps the diagnoses was incorrect.

Never forget that we ALL share at least some of the tell-tale 'signs' of most labels. Have you ever read a medical diagnoses book? Well, if you haven't then believe me, you can end up scaring yourself silly. You look up a 'symptom' like 'being tired' and the diagnoses is everything from not getting enough vitamin C to having a 'brain tumor'; see that I mean?

And what if the diagnoses is right? So what if it is? That doesn't mean suddenly YOU have turned into some sort of 'monster', it just means that maybe now you can try to do something about your problem. You can work WITH those who are trying to direct you onto a path that will help you feel better. That's good, isn't it? YES, it sure is!!



Shaving Information - Learn How To Shave.

Taken From:

Basic Steps:

  1. If you have long pubic hairs, trim hair with clippers or scissors. Electric clippers are best for this purpose.
  2. Take a long, warm bath beforehand.
  3. Before applying shaving cream, rinse area with cool water.
  4. Apply shaving cream a few minutes before shaving to soften hairs. Consider using a shaving cream with additional conditioners or aloe.
  5. Be sure to use a sharp blade. You might try using two new blades if you are shaving a large area.
  6. When shaving, stroke an area no more than twice to reduce skin irritation. On the first stroke, go "with the grain" to remove most of the hair, then go "against the grain" for a smooth, close shave.
  7. Be sure to clean the area afterwards with soap and water to reduce the risk of infection. Ideally, give the area a second cleansing using cotton balls and rubbing alcohol.
  8. Some people find daily applying baby powder or talcum powder especially helpful after shaving to keep the area dry and irritation-free.
  9. Practice clean hygiene after shaving, washing the area at least once a day to reduce sweat and oil build-up.
  10. Go as long as possible between shavings to reduce skin irritation.

A few warnings:

  1. People who allergic and react to some shaving creams: This area seems to have heightened sensitivity. Furthermore, if it does react, your natural sweat and the natural abrasion this area receives will most likely make your life a living hell [temporarily]. Consider avoiding shaving all together, or try warning tip #3. If you do decide to shave this area, make sure you use hypoallergenic shaving cream.
  2. People with sensitive skin may wish to avoid shaving for the same reasons. Again, if you chose to shave, consider shaving cream made for sensitive skin and use a hypoallergenic moisturizer afterwards.
  3. Consider closely trimming your hair instead. It provides many of the benefits of shaving without all the risks!
  4. Letting hair grow out after shaving your pubic area is a bitch. The sharp hairs combined with the sensitive skin will make you realize just how much movement happens in that area on an average day. Chaffing is nearly unavoidable.
  5. Keeping #4 in mind, people who walk/run/exercise a lot might wish to skip shaving all together if you don't want to invest the time in regular shavings.

Fighting Acne With ProActiv.

As a model, I am always on the search for new products to combat acne. The enemy! The oils that clog our pores and cause those ghastly red areas with white or black heads that plague our confidences and flare our insecurities.

I am happy to say that I have found a product that works.

Today, Proactiv Solution is the best selling acne prevention product in America. Many claim that it is not a skin care product, but rather a miracle worker - and the real life stories of the people who have used this product are there to back this claim up.

It has a simple approach: to kill the source of acne, and then provide the conditions to stimulate and renew healthy skin. Their approach has a history of providing thousands with clearer skin while other products use the same active ingredients, which are Benzoyl Peroxide, Glycolic Acid and Allantoin. There are differences between the products, shown by their differing amounts of success. For example Exposed, which uses all the products Proactiv uses, has less effective results. This is largely due to the proportions of the ingredients used and improper application.

Proactiv Solution is technically a "system." It uses three steps. The first, the renewing cleanser, ex-foliates the skin and attacks the cause of the acne. The second, called the revitalizing toner, unplugs the pores and the final step is the repairing lotion, which heals blemishes and prevents future blackheads.

If you are considering purchasing the system, or requesting your parents do, then it is in your best interests to know how it works. Briefly, acne is caused by hair follicles plugged with oil on dead cells, a common occurrence on our face since we have a lot of hair on our skin there. Bacteria thrives in your face's oily condition and when your white blood cells attack the bacteria, the area becomes inflamed and is seen on the surface as a spot. The technical name for this blemish is a comedo.

The renewing cleanser in Proactiv kills the bacteria, the toner prevents inflaming and the lotion stops dirt, which prevents future breakouts. So simple, you wonder why it took dermatologists all of eight years to discover it. Perhaps it's more complicated though because other high-end acne products, Exposed, Morad and Ronan & Fields, haven't grasped the concept and still lump all the ingredients together.

Before you purchase Proactiv, it is wise to consult a dermatologist or your family doctor before using the products. Some acne can be a result of other health conditions such as allergic reactions and the system will not rid you of this type of acne. Proactiv Solution claims to be effective against most types of acne, but before you clear the shelves of your local pharmacist for the US$40.00 a bottle product, remember that no product is a guarantee of clear skin. There are things that you can do that have proven to be quite effective when used in conjunction with Proactiv. Don't pick acne spots, whatever the type, wash your face twice a day, drink plenty of water, ice newly forming pimples, exercise regularly, sleep well and maintain a healthy diet. If you follow these tips while also using Proactiv, you will surely obtain the beautiful and clear skin that you may have always desired. I know I have, and my photographer agrees.