Experts have long agreed that there are two kinds of douches to avoid in this world: the ones shotgunning Natty Light and the ones with pretty flowers on the box. (Although, it's entirely true that only one category of said experts have medical degrees.) The reason behind the latter is simply because the human vagina — or, rather, the "vulva" — has been described as a self-cleaning organ, so you needn't flush it out with fancy floral scents to keep it healthy.
Recently, though, the beauty market has seen a spike in cleansing wipes and feminine washes made specifically for your ladybits — perhaps due in part to the rise of the "vajacial," a facial that happens nowhere near the face — the majority of which sprinkle words like "antiseptic," "gentle," and "low pH" onto the bottles to make them sound safer. But are they, really?
In a word: sometimes, but you definitely don't need one. In fact, you don't need anything but a splash of water to keep it clean. "Patients are worried about odour or infection," urogynecologist Maria Canter, MD, FPMRS, FACOG, MSC, told POPSUGAR. "They don't want to feel embarrassed about how they smell. But you only need to wash the outside of your vagina with water, and you do not need to wash the inside at all."
On the contrary, using a feminine body wash may actually be harmful to your health. That's because it throws off your vulva's good and bad bacteria that live together harmoniously to make a healthy environment. "This good bacteria (called flora) protects against infection," she said. "Washes are not recommended because they can disrupt this balance, throw off your pH levels, and even push some of the bacteria further into your vagina. That can then compromise the immune system and cause an infection."
Should you be a glutton for punishment, or just really, really, really want to wash up down-there, scan the ingredients list on a product for any red flags beforehand. "Make sure it does not contain harmful chemicals, like alcohol, that will potentially irritate your vagina," Dr. Canter said. "Also, it should be pH balanced so it won't disrupt the flora in your vagina." If anything seems off, consult your gynecologist. Otherwise, practice good hygiene, use protection, and limit the amount of questionable things you introduce to your vagina.