Wear 100% cotton underwear; if possible, remove underwear at bedtime. Wash clothes in Purex, Clear, or an organic detergent.
Helpful Hints For Better Care of the Vulva
Do not douche and avoid using soap directly on the vulva. Gently clean the area with a washcloth and warm water. You can wash the vaginal area with water or Cetaphil, a gentle skin cleanser, that is found in the facial/moisturizer section at most stores.
Avoid the daily use of pantyliners because they can be irritating. Never use Always sanitary products because they trap moisture and increase irritation in the vaginal area. Use unscented, organic cotton menstrual pads and tampons such as Seventh Generation. These products can be found on Amazon and may be available at your local store. Also consider managing menstrual flow with a menstrual cup, continuous birth control pill, or Mirena IUD.
Beware of lubricants! Many contain ingredients such as propylene glycol or glycerin. These ingredients can increase the risk for irritation or a vaginal infection. NEVER use Vaseline or lotion as a lubricant because they can promote the growth of yeast or bacteria. Try a glycerin-free lubricant such as Slippery Stuff (FemGlide) or silicone based lubricant (Sliquid, Wet Platinum, or Uberlube). Natural oils such as olive oil, tea tree oil, sweet almond oil, rosehip oil, or grape seed oil are also safe to use as a lubricant.
Water-based lubricants can be used to decrease irritation and prevent condoms from tearing. Non-latex condoms are available for those with latex allergies (ex. SKYN, Durex Avanti, and Trojan Supra-male).
Avoid products that contain benzocaine (ex. Vagisil). Benzocaine is a topical anesthetic. Although it decreases itching or discomfort temporarily, it is a sanitizer and a common cause of allergic contact dermatitis that can make your condition much worse.
The application of plain petrolatum or zinc oxide to the external vulva can reduce pain/minimize friction and prevent urine from touching the vaginal opening.
If you are feeling irritated around the vaginal opening, put ¼ cup of baking soda in a warm bath and soak for 10-15 minutes. This can offer comfort during a “flare up” or after sexual activity.
Do not apply ice packs directly to the vulva. Instead, wrap the ice pack in a towel or use a cool gel pack.
A topical anesthetic such as Lidocaine ointment may be prescribed to reduce discomfort around the vaginal opening. It is normal to experience initial burning or mild stinging upon application; the discomfort lasts for only a few minutes. It is recommended to apply the ointment to a cotton ball and place it at the vaginal opening (for direct contact) every night.
You can also apply the ointment to the vaginal opening 10-15 minutes before to sexual activity to reduce discomfort. Gently wipe off the ointment prior to penetration to avoid diminished sensation for your partner.
Consider changing your method of birth control. Oral birth control pills can lower estrogen and testosterone levels, causing low sexual desire, vaginal dryness, or painful intercourse. An IUD (intrauterine device) may be a good alternative because the IUD does not alter systemic hormone levels.
Do not forget to use the prescribed vaginal creams or medications as directed because they are vital in achieving optimal recovery.