Women generally use specialised products for different parts of their body – toothpaste for the teeth, shampoo for the hair, face wash for the face. Why, then, when it comes to the vagina, the most intimate part of our body, and one of the most delicate, do we not use a product specially formulated to protect and maintain freshness?
In many parts of the world, the use of specialised female hygiene products is standard. “The pH of the external vaginal region is acidic,” says gynaecologist Dr Lizelle Nortje. “Maintaining an acidic pH is the first step to keeping the healthy microbes functioning, and preventing the symptoms that can occur when unhealthy microbes flourish, such as itching and irritation”.
According to Dr. Nortje, the ideal vaginal wash is one that has a pH similar to that of the adult female vagina, i.e. between 3,8 and 4,5. It should also be liquid, as bar soaps tend to contain astringent ingredients that disrupt vaginal pH, leading to the destruction of normal, healthy microflora3. Also, a bar soap shared by the family is potentially problematic when it comes to delicate micro-environment of the vagina, and washes which are highly perfumed can be irritants3.
Lactacyd®, a mild liquid cleanser formulated specifically for vaginal hygiene, is the world’s leading topical feminine hygiene wash4 and is now available in South Africa. It has been trusted by doctors and consumers for many years. It is formulated with lactic acid and lactoserum, both of which come from milk. They are pH-balancers which help to maintain the pH balance of the external genital area5.
A pH imbalance in the external genital area causes many disturbances such as itching, bad odours and irritations, inflammation and bacterial infections5.
Lactacyd® acts as a daily protector against the symptoms of minor infections of the external genital area, such as strong odours and irritations5.
Lactacyd® has a clean, soft, fresh smell, and is a natural deodoriser. It is colourless, has a lightly viscous texture, and is so gentle that it can be used every day, more than once if desired.
Find Lactacyd® in the feminine health sections in Dischem, selected Clicks, Pick n Pay and Spar outlets, as well as at leading pharmacies.
Vaginal hygiene: special conditions
Is a feminine hygiene wash such as Lactacyd® appropriate for all women, at all times? Most women are aware that with the seasons, and with our hormonal ebbs and flows, vaginal sensitivities and hygiene needs seem to change. And what about when you have your period?
Gynaecologist, Dr Lizelle Nortje provides a round-up of the conditions that most commonly pose questions.
Working out – If anything, active women need to be more vigilant than most about feminine hygiene – they shower more, and the potential for creating a pH imbalance with harsh soaps is higher. Working out increases the production of sweat and other secretions. Go straight from your workout to the shower, and take special care with intimate cleansing3.
Sex – Spermicides, lubricants and condoms may cause irritation, leaving the female genital region vulnerable to attack from microbes – including those introduced by the sexual partner. Also, semen has an alkaline pH, which can affect your vagina’s pH. Keep an eye on individual sensitivity, consult a doctor if necessary about alternative approaches and brands of sexual aids, and make a point of washing properly in order to eliminate sperm and mucous residues that leave genitalia moist 3.
Pregnancy – The increase of vaginal discharges and the pH changes during pregnancy can wreak havoc with the vagina’s natural balances, which is why so many pregnant women report itchiness and burning. An additional complication at this time is that the extra oestrogen in the system contributes to the changes in natural vagina flora. Keep talking to your doctor about all changes, and be extra-scrupulous about cleansing 3.
Menopause – As hormonal levels decline, skin dries out and is less acidic. The result can be high levels of vaginal irritation for menopausal women. Limit cleansing to twice daily to avoid drying out, but be scrupulous about tidying up after using the toilet3.
“If you ever find yourself in a situation in which vaginal discharges persist, or in which there is any bleeding or any pain, medical advice should be sought,” says gynaecologist Dr Lizelle Nortje.
For more information please visit the Lactacyd website: http://za.lactacyd-info.com
(Press release, Lactacyd, August 2011)
Kamala S. Satisfaction survey of combination of Lactic Acid and Lactoserum in treatment of Vulvovaginal Infections in Indian Women. Asian Journal of Obs & Gynae Practice. Volume 3, Jul. – Sept. 2009
Garg K.B. Metabolic properties of lactobacilli in women experiencing recurring episodes of bacterial vaginosis with vaginal pH ≥ 5. Eur. J Clin. Microbiol Infect Dis (2010) 29: 123-125
3 Brazilian Federation of Ob & Gyn Ass. (FEBRASGO), Practical Guide to Clinical Procedures, Female Genital Hygiene, 2009
4 Nicholas Hall’s global OTC database DB6 2011, sales in €mn at MSP, YE 2010
5 Lactacyd® FH Wash as an adjunct to standard treatment in mild vulvovaginitis, Aug. 2001, Data on file