Cosmetic doctor and intimate health specialist, Dr Shirin Lakhani, reveals the common mistakes and bad habits that could be damaging your vaginal health…

Skinny jeans first became popular in the 1990s mainly among pop stars, but quickly went out of fashion before emerging again in 2004 when they replaced baggy gangster style jeans.

Now though, trends suggest that Generation Z have declared them officially dead. And with it, cosmetic doctor and intimate health expert, Dr Shirin Lakhani of Elite Aesthetics, says that it’s probably a good thing for our intimate region.

‘Skinny jeans are of course fine to wear sometimes, but wearing jeans that are too tight every day can cause yeast infections and chafing,’ she explains.

‘It’s important to give that area room to breathe in order to avoid the build-up of sweat and bacteria around the intimate areas. So, jeans which are baggier will allow better airflow around the intimate areas meaning you’ll be less likely to develop a yeast infection or get sore down there.’

It turns out there are a lot of other things that we all do that can be harmful to the intimate areas too, so read the list below to make sure you’re not making these vaginal health mistakes…

1. Wearing dirty underwear

All women produce discharge throughout the day. But wearing dirty underwear or wearing the same knickers all day and night is up there in the list of intimate health sins.

Dr Shirin Lakhani explains: ‘Wearing dirty underwear traps sweat, dirt, and bacteria and holds them close to your skin. You’re also at an increased risk for genital irritation and infections when wearing your underwear for extended periods of time.’

2. Squeezing spots

Most of us get spots down below at some time or another and according to Dr Shirin Lakhani these can be a result of a few things, from acne and ingrown hairs, to cysts and STIs. But most importantly, if there’s a spot down there try and resist the urge to pop it.

‘No matter how tempting it is you should try and avoid pop it,’ she says. ‘Doing so can result in pushing bacteria further into the skin, spreading infection, or worse.’ If a spot down there is really bothering you don’t be afraid to seek help with a doctor.

3. Douching

Vaginal douching is more popular than ever. The process involves flushing out the vagina to clean it, usually with a mixture of water and vinegar. Some say it leaves them feeling fresher and gets rid of unpleasant odours.

Douching removes everything that is inside your Vagina – including the good bacteria that keeps it healthy. Without that bacteria it’s at risk of infection.

‘Not only is there little scientific evidence that douching makes vaginas cleaner,’ explains Dr Shirin Lakhani. ‘It also upsets the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina making it more susceptible to infections.’

4. Fragrances

Spraying perfume, deodorant, air freshener or anything else that gives it a sweet smell really shouldn’t be encouraged.  Dr Shirin Lakhani says, ‘You don’t need any special products to cleanse to vagina in any way, including soap, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.The chemicals can cause irritation and infection to the delicate area.’

5. Inserting foreign objects

Yes that’s right – tampons, fingers, penises, menstrual cups and such like are fine, providing they’re clean.  Other foreign objects most certainly aren’t. Take cucumbers and bananas for example – even just their textures and skin can cause irritation and result in pain and discomfort.

6. Scratching the itch

All women get itchy down there at certain times, but avoid scratching it if possible. ‘You can cause further irritation and inflammation and persistent scratching can result in lesions and open wounds,’ adds Dr Lakhani.

7. Consuming too much sugar

Good vaginal health is largely maintained by your overall health. Even the healthiest of us are finding that this enforced lifestyle change as a result of the pandemic has seen us slip into bad habits. If snacking on sugary treats is one of them, you should be warned.

‘A balanced diet will benefit your intimate area and lessen the likelihood of you developing thrush,’ says intimate health expert, Dr Shirin Lakhani.

‘For example, refined sugar found in sweets and fizzy drinks have been proven to feed bad bacteria. This can upset your body’s delicate balance and increase your risk of developing thrush. High sugar levels can also create more suitable living conditions for the fungal bacteria to grow and make thrush more likely to occur.’

8. Vacuuming your vagina

Apparently, there’s a trend on social media in which women have been vacuuming their vagina in a bid to make their period end earlier.

Dr Shirin Lakhani warns: ‘Vacuums and vaginas simply don’t mix. No one should ever vacuum their vagina. There is no way this would speed up your period ending, and it can be incredibly dangerous. The foreign object could easily transmit bad bacteria into the vagina and the suction could cause serious damage to the vaginal walls and labia.

Click here for our top tips on beating vaginal dryness!