Role of female intimate hygiene in vulvovaginal health: Global hygiene practices and product usage

Womens Health (Lond). 2017 Dec;13(3):58-67. doi: 10.1177/1745505717731011. Epub 2017 Sep 22.


Women use various feminine hygiene products, often as part of their daily cleansing routine; however, there is a paucity of published medical literature related to the external vulva and how personal hygiene practices can affect it. This review article provides background information on the physiological changes that occur during women's lives and reviews the relevance of transient and resident microbiota as they relate to common vaginal and vulvar disorders. It also discusses the need for female intimate hygiene, common practices of feminine hygiene from a global perspective, and the potential benefits of using suitable external, topical feminine vulvar washes to minimize the risk of vulvovaginal disorders and to improve overall intimate health in women around the world. Supported by international guidelines, daily gentle cleansing of the vulva is an important aspect of feminine hygiene and overall intimate health. Women should be encouraged to choose a carefully formulated and clinically tested external wash that provides targeted antimicrobial and other health benefits without negatively impacting on the natural vulvovaginal microbiota.

Keywords: female intimate hygiene; feminine hygiene guidelines; intimate washes/cleansing products; microbiota; vulvovaginal.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Feminine Hygiene Products / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Education / methods
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Hygiene*
  • Self Care / methods*
  • Vaginal Douching / methods
  • Vulvovaginitis / prevention & control*
  • Women's Health*