Whatever the reason for their use, some personal hygiene products may do more harm than good. This is suggested by a study that shows an increased risk of vaginal infections in case of too frequent use of some of these products. Our advices.
95% of Canadian women use personal care products. Yet these gels, wipes, lubricants and other creams could do more harm than good to their vaginas. In any case, this is what the results of a study published on the BMC Women's Health website suggest.
The survey was conducted by researchers at the University of Guelph in Canada. It shows that women who too often use intimate hygiene products are more likely to develop vaginal infections.
A risk of mycosis eight times higher
To conduct this research, scientists interviewed 1,500 Canadian women. They were interested in their habits in terms of vaginal hygiene, the products they used, and the frequency of their vaginal problems.
Most of the products mentioned were wipes, cleansing gels, anti-itch creams, moisturizers and lubricants. Women using cleansing gels are eight times more likely to have fungal infections, and 20 times more likely to develop a bacterial infection.
Those using wipes were twice as likely to have a urinary tract infection. For those using lubricants or moisturizing gels, the risk of fungal infections was two and a half times higher. The vaginal douching problems were already known, but this is the first time a study has analyzed the impact of personal hygiene products.
An imbalance of the vaginal flora
For researchers, further research is needed to better understand the link between these infections and the products used. "These products potentially disrupt the development of good bacteria, the ones the vagina needs to protect against infections," says Kieran O'Doherty, the first author of this research.
In the vagina, we find what is called a "physiological vaginal flora", the "vaginal microbiota", that is to say a set of "good" bacteria. Their role is to protect the vagina from infections with bad bacteria, but also fungi.
For example, lactobacilli or streptococci are found. These bacteria make the vagina an acidic medium. In fact, the pH that measures acidity or alkalinity is between 3.8 and 4.5 inside the vagina. But below 7, it is an acid medium, above it is an alkaline medium. In the vulvar and perianal area, the pH is between 4.8 and 7.5.
For intimate hygiene, it is necessary at least to use products whose pH will not unbalance that of the intimate areas, so neutral. And avoid products that may have activity to kill bacteria and avoid detergents.