Intimate hygiene: products, sponges, Ellen tampons, sex toys

Our vaginal flora is the best protection against infections. The inside of the vagina is able to clean itself, and the secretions of the mucous membranes form a natural barrier against infection (vaginal flora). This is why it is important to avoid disrupting the balance of this protection through vaginal douching.

Vaginal douching is generally carried out after sex, and aims to clean the inside of the vagina and reduce the risk of pregnancy by eliminating sperm present in the vagina (if no condom or other method of contraception was used). Yet not only is the practice completely ineffective as a contraceptive, it also encourages the development of fungal and other infections such as vaginosis. This internal cleaning actually destroys the balance of the vaginal flora and promotes the growth of yeast or bacteria. So beware of excessive cleaning rituals.

Besides vaginal douching, an imbalance in the vaginal flora may also be caused by hormonal deficiencies (e.g. during the menopause), excessive rubbing of the mucous membranes, the use of abrasive products or certain types of medication such as antibiotics, corticosteroids, etc.

Should you nevertheless wish to practise vaginal douching, we advise you to choose your products carefully. It is important to steer clear of abrasive or disinfectant products, which are too aggressive. Do not use your usual shower gel for this purpose. Instead, choose a gentle, soap-free, unperfumed cleanser that has a neutral pH value and respects your intimate areas. Products specially formulated for intimate hygiene are sold in pharmacies and health and beauty stores. Avoid applying general cosmetic products such as deodorants, oils and other moisturising creams on the genital areas.

Wipes may be used infrequently, providing they have a gentle action and do not contain alcohol.

Sponge: This is designed to collect the menstrual blood but is not a method of contraception. It must be inserted as far as possible into the vagina, then removed and discarded after every client. Do not reuse! It can be worn for up to six hours.

It is the only possible method of collecting menstrual blood; do not use cleansing pads or tissues that can lead to infections. If you find you cannot remove the sponge, the most effective solution is to crouch down and use a shower to rinse your vagina with warm water. This will make the sponge swell with water and encourage it to make its way down.

Ellen probiotic tampons: These tampons are worn during your period, and release probiotics designed to restore your vaginal flora. Wear at least three tampons per day for three days of your period, ideally for three consecutive cycles. They come in several sizes, so you can decide which suits you best.

Sex toys: Remember to clean these with alcohol between every use. Shared sex toys must be covered with a condom, which must be changed before every new partner. You should preferably have your own toys and keep them for your use only, so that you control how they are used and cleaned. Any items used to practise sado-masochism must be explicitly disinfected and/or replaced after every session – especially needles.

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