Feminine hygiene refers to the maintenance of vaginal health as the moist secretions of the vagina can be fertile breeding ground for bacteria. While there are a large number of feminine hygiene products that are available and actively marketed by pharmaceutical companies in the US, the fact remains that many doctors are skeptical about the efficacy of feminine hygiene products and also question the safety of long-term use of feminine hygiene products.
Vaginal hygiene is of utmost importance both in menstruating women and in women post menopause. As the hormones gradually drop post menopause, the vaginal secretions in senior women also decrease. Nevertheless, maintenance of vaginal health is necessary as women are prone to bacterial and yeast infections. Women are also known to be prone to urinary tract infections.
Many women state that they douche regularly, often cleansing the inner walls of the vagina with soap and water. However, several doctors are of the opinion that the vaginal region is best left without any interventions.
Senior women with a tendency for lax pelvic floor muscles and hence, leaking of urine or urinary incontinence may wish to use a panty liner. However, it is important to change the panty liner at intervals. Washing the vaginal region gently with water is recommended as an adequate hygiene practice. Some other tips for feminine hygiene in the elderly include:
- To use comfortable cotton underwear
- To avoid or limit daily use of panty liners or adult diapers; if one has to use these feminine hygiene products, it is recommended that they are changed at intervals
- To avoid wearing underwear at night
- To wear loose fitting pants whenever possible
- To always clean or wipe from front to back to minimize the chance of urinary tract infections
- To practice safe sex
- To avoid the use of soaps or other chemical rinses in the vaginal region
- To avoid or limit the use of bubble baths
- To cleanse the vaginal region with warm water and gently pat dry.