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maintaining healthy genitals
« on: December 16, 2016, 05:25:06 am »
Maintaining healthy genitals

The skin of the female genital area is especially sensitive and needs protection from physical damage and certain chemicals.

Keep the vulva dry and well aired by:

wearing only plain, loose-fitting cotton underwear and changing it daily

changing out of damp bathing suits or exercise clothing as soon as possible

changing pads and tampons regularly (check the packaging instructions if unsure about time length)

avoiding tight-fitting clothes, g-strings, panty-hose and synthetic materials next to the skin

avoiding long exposure to hot, sweaty or chafing conditions, eg sauna, aerobics

Irritation to the vulva can be avoided by:

not using soaps or antiseptics – use plain water or a soap alternative such as Cetaphil,
Dermaveen or Hamilton QV wash to wash the area

not using perfumed deodorants or talcs near the vulva

not using perfumed pads and tampons

using soft, unperfumed toilet paper

not over-washing the area (once a day is sufficient) and patting it dry after washing, rather than rubbing with a towel

If you are experiencing vulval irritation you should:

make sure that all clothing in contact with the vulva has been rinsed well so no washing detergent remains, and avoid fabric softener on underwear

wash the genitals gently in plain, cool water. Burning and irritation can be relieved by cool washes or salt baths (2 teaspoons table salt per litre of water

avoid getting shampoo on the vulva, and avoid using bath gels and bubble baths

avoid panty liners and use only 100% cotton tampons and pads

avoid sex when you have pain, or consider alternatives to painful intercourse, such as oral sex. Avoid using lubricants such as KY jelly if these increase irritation. Light vegetable oil can be useful as a lubricant for sex, but will cause damage to condoms, dams and diaphragms. Sometimes semen can be very irritating, so condoms or ejaculation outside the **** can be helpful

avoid scratching as it can damage vulval skin and make itching worse. Reduce itching with cool washes and compresses. Don’t rub the area with toilet paper, just pat gently dry with unperfumed paper

limit exercises that can irritate the area, such as horse and bike riding

avoid shaving or waxing the genital area

Common genital problems

Vaginal problems
A variety of bacteria, yeasts and other micro-organisms occur naturally in the ****. Specific bacteria (lactobacilli) normally keep the **** slightly acidic, keeping the growth of other bacteria under control.

The vaginal balance can be upset by external factors. This can lead to a change in the balance of the natural bacteria in the ****, causing problems. Some women are more prone than others to disturbance of the vaginal environment.

A course of antibiotics may reduce the numbers of bacteria that the **** needs to keep its normal acidic balance. Stress, illness and hormone changes can also alter the vaginal environment.

Signs of a vaginal problem may be:

 itching, irritation or soreness around the vaginal opening

a burning sensation when urinating

increased or unusual discharge

swelling of the labia

abnormal bleeding

uncomfortable or painful sex

an unpleasant odour

If you are experiencing any of the above problems, see a doctor or FPWA clinician.

Genital itch
Genital itch is a common problem among women. Many assume that any genital itch is due to thrush (see below for more information), but there are other conditions that can cause itching and soreness, such as eczema (dermatitis).

If you are experiencing persistent genital itch, it is important to see a doctor or FPWA clinician to get an accurate diagnosis, so that you can be given the right treatment.

Vulval pain
Vulval pain is a problem for many women, and can be caused by both physical and psychological factors. It can make inserting tampons or having sex difficult or impossible. Some women find the area too painful to even touch.

Some vulval problems have noticeable signs, such as a growth, sore or rash on the vulva. These can often indicate an infection or skin condition such as eczema or dermatitis, and need to be checked by a doctor.

Some women experiencing vulval pain have no other physical symptoms but experience pain some or all of the time, in particular when urinating or sitting for long periods. Because of the lack of other symptoms, these problems can be difficult to diagnose. Physical therapy is often used to treat vulval pain, but avoiding intercourse, wearing loose clothing and using cold packs can help. Your doctor may prescribe antidepressants or anti-epileptic medication to reduce the pain, or a special cream to apply to the area. Counselling or therapy may be beneficial if the pain is due to psychological causes.

Although not usually an indication of a serious condition, if you are experiencing recurring vulval pain it is important to see a doctor - don’t try and treat the problem yourself. Occasionally however, pain can be related to conditions such as cancer.

Vaginal infections

Infection can be avoided by:

wiping from front to back when using toilet paper

being particularly careful with hygiene if you have a bowel upset e.g. washing rather than wiping

eating a healthy, well balanced diet

not douching (flushing liquids into the ****)

Common vaginal infections

Thrush
This infection is also called monilia or candida. The organism is a yeast which is commonly found in the body without causing any problems. At times a woman may notice symptoms, particularly during pregnancy, or when she is on antibiotics or some other medication. Women who are diabetic or who have other illnesses may have recurring problems with thrush.

Common symptoms of thrush can include itchiness, burning, soreness, a thick white or yellow discharge, discomfort during intercourse and pain when urinating. Sometimes men may also notice irritation and redness of the **** after sex if their partner has thrush, but it is not considered to be a sexually transmissible infection (STI).

Thrush is diagnosed by examination and confirmed by taking swabs. It may also be detected on a routine Pap smear.

Thrush does not have to be treated if it is not bothering you. Some women find their symptoms can be relieved by sitting in a warm salty bath or by using cold compresses.

If you are certain that thrush is the cause of your symptoms, antifungal vaginal creams and pessaries are available over the counter at pharmacies. If you are finding that thrush is a frequent problem it is advisable to visit your doctor or the FPWA clinic. Your doctor will examine you to confirm that thrush is the cause of your symptoms and may prescribe other treatments such as oral antifungal tablets. The doctor may take this opportunity to rule out the possibility of STIs, which can also cause irritation.

Putting yogurt on an irritated vulva will not get rid of the infection.

Bacterial vaginosis
This is a common condition in women and is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria that normally live in the bowel but may be found in the ****. The organisms often multiply in the **** when the acid level falls.

Bacterial vaginosis may cause a white to grey discharge with an unpleasant 'fish' or stale odour. Vulval irritation can occur and sex may be uncomfortable. Bacterial vaginosis is diagnosed by an examination testing the acidity of the vaginal fluid, and confirmed by swabs.

Bacterial vaginosis does not have to be treated if it is not bothering you.

If it is a problem your doctor may prescribe antibiotics in the form of tablets or vaginal cream. The FPWA clinic or your doctor may also recommend treatment if you are planning to have an intrauterine contraceptive device fitted or any gynaecological operation.

Telling partners

It is a good idea to talk to your partner if you have a vaginal infection or are experiencing vulval pain, even though it can be embarrassing. They may find it helpful to read this pamphlet. It is generally better to avoid sexual intercourse if you have an infection, particularly if you have pain or discomfort, to prevent ongoing problems.

Ways of coping

Vaginal infections and vulval pain are very common, but can be a real problem for some women. If you are feeling distressed, it is important to talk to your doctor, nurse or a counsellor for further information and support. If you are experiencing pain, relaxation and stress management techniques may be of help.

Genitals
Use great care. Remember that it will itch so badly that you will wish for sweet death once it starts growing back - consider waxing as a sane alternative. Using electric trimmers on a low length setting will also give you similar aesthetic and tactile benefits without all the trouble and itching.

Go slowly---not only in the usual sense, but also in the sense of gradually removing more hair: begin with just a close trim, then next time shave the periphery, continuing to remove more over the course of weeks. As with any other part of the body, shaving along the direction of hair growth gives a shave which is not quite as close (and therefore will never match the airbrushed ideal) but which is exponentially less likely to cause rashes, cuts, or ingrown hair. Thus, the reader is advised to shave along the direction of growth several times before attempting the closer against-the-grain cut.

As with all shaving, the skin will become desensitized with repeated shaving, so perseverance will eventually pay off.

Male
Start with a very sharp blade and something that is very unlikely to slip out of your hands. A Mach 3 razor (disposable blades) is highly recommended. Also different parts of the genitals react differently to being shaved. I highly suggest shaving only with the direction of the hair. Shaving against the grain causes pimples, red spots (burns) and icthes like heck when regrowing. To get a closer shave I tend to go across the grain and angled downwards slightly.

I personally shave in the shower (private and easy clean-up) and shave every 4-7 days depending on comfort of the regrowth.

Start by sitting on the shower floor with the water not spraying directly on you (spray it at the wall or something). Lather the areas you are going to shave. I leave the hair from my naval to my belt-line intact, so that if I have my shirt off, no one would ever know I shaved.

Most of the skin in these areas is very loose, so you will need to use one hand to pull the skin taut and the other hand to shave. Keep the lather on hand as it will likely wash away a bit and you want to be careful not to shave without a lubricant. I use Gillette 'sensitive skin' shaving gel.

Shaving for the first time

(I don't remember very well, except a lot of hair tearing by the razor and it getting jammed every stroke)

Maintenance (5 minute shave)

The 'V'

This is the section below your naval and down to the base of the ****. Shave no more the 1-2 inches per stroke and rinse the blade after every single stroke. It is much better to make a few passes then to tear hairs because your razor is jammed. Start at the top working your way all the way across, taking it out in strips. I shave about 2 inches into my thighs as this makes it blend a little better, but I am not very hairy. There is a bare patch between my pubic hair and leg hair, so I simply remove all the pubic hair so it blends more naturally with my legs.

The section between the scrotum and your leg and the section just below the scrotum is the second most sensitive area I've found. Along the side I always shave sideways either towards the scrotum or away from it. A few passes with the blade with generally remove all the hair here and the fewer the passes the better. Press firmly with the blade, but only enough to prevent tearing hair. Directly beside these sections on your actual legs, shaving up and down easily remove the hair. The legs are far less sensitive and the hair in the small sections seems to have no problem with very close shaving. Shaving below the scrotum is explained in the Scrotum section below.

The Shaft (****)

This is a very sensitive section and will very easily bleed and get cut (Most sensitive area I've found). Having an **** makes shaving this area much easier. The most common cuts occur at the edge of where the hair stops growing about half-way up the shaft. I stress again, shave in the direction of growth.

Start at the base where you left off and shaving the 'V' like area above. Shave upwards and use very careful strokes. Keep the blade nice and close to the skin but don't press hard or you will cause cuts and burns. Work your way around the shaft. When you get to the bottom part where the **** and scrotum join, you will probably have to shave downwards to get close enough. After going over this section lightly and carefully, you may have missed spots. These are the only spot where you will need to go against the direction of growth to remove. In very small strokes remove these missed patches. This tends to be near the top where the hair-line is, and is also the reason for occasional cuts.

The Scrotum

For this section the **** should be pulled close to the stomach and shaved in a downwards direction. Complete full strokes from the bottom base of the **** until your blade comes off the testicles (because of the curve) on its own. Then once this top area of the scrotum is done, pull the testicles up towards the stomach as well. Shave from the bottom of the scrotum up towards the testicles. This is also when I tend to shave below the scrotum and finish the sides. Simply move your genitals out of the way to tighten the skin slightly and shave with the direction of growth.

The rough nature of the scrotum makes it prone to hair tearing (as you can't press very hard), but is surprisingly not very sensitive to razor burn. The hair is very sparse in this area, so I find shaving it fairly easy.

Care

Avoid sweating as much as possible. If needed use rubbing acohol to reduce itching and redness if it occurs. If you get red spots, it's not the end of the world, it simply means you shaved too close to the skin and next time to be more careful and don't shave that area against the direction of growth.

If you get chafing across the top (this will cause redspots as well) it is probably caused by your belt/pants and you can simply place a large bandaid across the top section for a day until the hair gets a bit longer and is less sensitive. This happens sometimes the day after shaving if you are walking a lot. Having the bandaid on for more then a day will cause itching.

If you have any unbearable amount of itching, change underwear frequently and shower often (once every day). Boxer shorts tend to sweat more than briefs, so you may want to change over to briefs for a little while if this occurs. If itching continues for more then a few days to a week, see a doctor as it may not be related to shaving.

Notes

If you decide you don't like the look or feel of shaved genitals, then it will take quite some time to grow back (approximately 6 months; I only ever let it grow back once and I can't remember the specific dates very well). It will NOT grow back any thicker than it was before, this is a wives' tale and is entirely false. It may appear to be growing back more thickly, but it's an optical illusion because all the hair is growing back at the same length instead of being staggered like it naturally is.

Razor burns
Most people will experience razor burns at some point for various reasons. There are several ways to reduce your chance of getting a severe inflamation. Start by always using a clean and relatively sharp razor and never use old or rusty razors. This will reduce your chance of getting an infection if you get cut, and make it less likely you will need to go over the same area of skin more than once. When rinsing a blade never use hot water, tepid water, a little cooler than what you would find comfortable for washing your hands is best. Shave the face with the grain and against on the neck, other body parts may be better with one or the other. When you are done rinse off any excess soap cream or hair with tepid water before a final rise with cold water. Dry your face immediately with a clean dry towel. If you have sensitive skin you may want consider this when purchasing shaving cream or soap as well as using a lotion or lotion based aftershave. Some people have extremely sensitive skin that is irritated merely by the act of shaving, if so you should try to only shave every other day or less if necessary. It is also important to note that if you have not shaved in a while or do not shave often your skin will be more sensitive.


Cuts
Even though most razor cuts are small in size, they tend to bleed profusely. They are usually quite easy to treat because most shaving takes place in a bathroom where medical supplies are present. A styptic pencil or block (aluminum sulfate) can be used to stop bleeding from razor cuts. This inexpensive product is available at any drugstore.


Tickling
It is a little known fact that tickling a shaving cut is equally effective as applying tissue paper or aluminum sulfate. After the cut occurs, simply tickle the cut with your thumb and forefinger and watch the magic begin.


 

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