Genital Care {1/3}: How to Care for the “Taboo” Parts of Your Body {Hygiene}

By: K 

Many times I am asked what got me into sexology in the first place, it’s a curious thing, as it didn’t have a thing to do with sex as an activity. Growing up, no one told me anything about how to care for my vulva, I was 12 when I started menstruating, I got no info then either, in fact, I was verbally berated whenever I dared ask. At 13, I itched, my vulva was itching, I was lost, and I was frightened to ask, thus, I perused google. After examining all possibilities, I realized it was because my sensitive skin hated tight underwear, so, I started wearing 100% cotton underwear that was a bit looser than the ones I wore before and didn’t wear underwear at all when going to bed. I still don’t, wear underwear to bed I mean, I understand that my vagina needs to breathe in order to prevent infections. Countless people I’ve met and befriended have asked about genital care, no one breathed, for no one knew. Did you know that females and males are more likely than ever to develop cervical or testicular cancer due to genital care negligence and over-use of chemical skin care products? It makes no sense for this topic to be taboo when lives depend on it.

Note: Breasts are not genitals 🙂

Males – Penis:

penis-medicine-for-sex-enhancement-solve-testicular.jpg

This above is the penile anatomy. It’s not “inappropriate” or “3eib”, it’s a penis, almost 50% of the world’s population have them, get over it. As a male, you’re susceptible to infections, warts, swelling, and more – you’re in for a load of pain if you don’t give your penis proper care. It’s important to be very familiar with your penis, it is a part of your body, and no, I do not mean familiar sexually because even though y’all might think you are, you’re not. Anyway, it’s important because the moment you develop swelling or itching or bumps or warts they’re noticeable to you in the early stages before things spiral out of control.

Bumps, Lumps, and Swollen Areas, mostly, those will be on your testes, are signs of chlamydia (the most common STD, like, ever), collection of fluids, or cancer – the chance of said lump being cancerous is about 4%, but it’s still vital to check, if it’s an early diagnosis, the chances of it being treated are higher. Unfortunately, I had to mention cancer because, guess what, testicular cancer in mostly common in males aged 15-49, so yes, you teen males are very much included. Those aside, if a testicle is suddenly swollen and it hurts, that means it has twisted (yes, twisted), which means you call for help ASAP and get to the nearest hospital for a surgery, it’s that much of an emergency, don’t think, just yell for help. That testicle being twisted is known medically as a testicular torsion.

If you’re uncircumcised and you don’t gently but effectively clean/wash beneath your foreskin properly on a daily basis; you’re risking it big time. Leaving the area underneath your foreskin unclean means it gets the chance to collect a certain type of fluid that’s actually a natural lubricant called smegma. If smegma builds up and collect at the foreskin it creates the perfect habitat for the overgrowth of bacteria, which causes the head of the penis to swell and redden – these are the presenting symptoms of what is known as Balanitis. It also makes your penis smell and that is NEVER a good thing. Balanitis is not just due to neglect of any and all sanitation, it can also be caused by a STI or by certain types of soaps and gels that your skin is allergic to. On the plus side, treatment is simply through some ointments, good hygiene, and maybe some creams.

What to do? What to do?

1- gently wash your penis every day with warm water, if you’re uncircumcised then gently pull back your foreskin and wash underneath, if you’re not, just pay attention to cleaning the head of your penis.

2- make sure to wash the area between your testes and anus, it collects sweat and hair, which promotes the growth of bacteria.

3- always check your genitals and the area surrounding them for any out of the place lumps, bumps, swelling, redness, or any other sign or symptom that makes alarm bells go off in your head.

4- never ever ever ever ever use “perfumed” shower gels, lotions, soaps, or – god forbid – deodorants on or around your genitals, that’s asking for skin irritation and pain, and we don’t want that.

5- To check your testes in particular for anything unusual, “Place the index and middle fingers under the testicle with the thumbs placed on top. Roll the testicle gently between the thumbs and fingers – you shouldn’t feel any pain when doing this. The testicles should feel smooth, without any lumps or bumps, and firm but not hard. You may feel a soft tube at the back of each testicle, which is called the epididymis.”

I’m a female, I don’t know these things, but the Internet does.

6- Have a physician’s number on hand, in the case of finding anything you’re doubtful of, call them, and get to their clinic for examination asap.

7- make sure your underwear has been properly washed, don’t wear dirty underwear – please…please. Also, be careful, it has to be dry before you put it on. Oh, also, pull your foreskin over the tip of your penis before pulling up your underwear, if you don’t it causes irritation of the skin and pain.

8- Wash your hands before touching your penis, even for urinating, anything at all that you may have collected could be passed onto your skin and your body and could screw everything up.

Sidenote*// Funfact: Circumcision means less of a habitat for anaerobic bacteria to grow, which means you’re less likely to have an overgrowth of bacteria.

Females – Vulva + Vagina:

illustration-of-the-vulva-or-female-genitalia-exterior-view-282408.jpg

Ah, where through life is born. This is a vulva. Nope, not a vagina. Here’s the thing, your “vagina” is inside, as in, beyond the opening {which is why it’s called the vaginal opening}. Your vulva, is everything outside. So, your pubic area, your clitoris and its hood {that’s the bit of skin you have to pull back to reach the bundle of 42,000 nerves known as your clitoris or clit for short, if you’re turned on or horny or sexually stimulated or whatever you call it, the clit will engorge itself and the hood will be pulled back “automatically”}, your labia minora {crudely known as your inner “pussy” lips}, your labia majora {crudely also know as your outer “pussy” lips}, and your urethral opening. Your vagina starts from the opening and ends where your uterus starts – at your cervix.

The vaginal microbiome is literally a system all on its own, it helps maintain the good health of the female genital system through a network of different factors and activities. Your vulva and vagina are not meant to be squeaky clean, contrary to the penis, the vulva and vagina are supposed to be taken care of but not fanatically so. A lot fo the bacteria there are good bacteria that help your system protect itself and stay comfortable. In fact, most of the problems your vulva and vagina go through are based on our own ignorant intervention, your genitals are self-limiting – they take care of themselves – no, your genitals are not “dirty”, the social notion that women are promiscuous and dirty because of their genitals is fucked up, big time, don’t make it both a social and a health disaster, please.

Vaginal Infections though, happen when you take no care of your vulva and vagina, thus, allowing for the good bacteria to overgrow and work against you, or through unsafe sex. This means, that unless you’re aware of sex safety – you could very much end up with a STD {Sexually Transmitted Disease} or STI {Sexually Transmitted Infection}. For example, Candida is a type of fungus that lives in your vagina, by allowing its overgrowth, you develop a yeast infection. A yeast infection, is just that, a yeast infection – its symptoms include: a white discharge not unlike cottage cheese, a foul smell, itching, and redness of the vulva, particularly in the labia majora or the outer lips.

That being said, here’s HOW to take care of your genitals:

1- don’t wash more than once a day, using cool water and no antiseptic, perfumed lotion, soap, or anything of the sort.

2- familiarize yourself with your vulva and vagina, so you can notice any itching or pain, make sure to gently prod your skin for any sharp pain.

3- Do not wear any underwear that’s silk, lace, lycra, polyester, etc Only wear cotton panties.

4- Make sure to buy your underwear loose, I know the urge to buy flimsy lingerie can be overwhelming sometimes because it makes you feel sexy and all, but stick to cotton somewhat oversized underwear for the most part yeah? Allow your vulva and vagina breathing space.

5- ALWAYS HAVE AN EXTRA PAIR OF PANTIES ON YOU. If, for whatever reason your panties get wet {i.e irritating shattafa, sweat, discharge, vaginal lubrication because you’re turned on or excited or whatnot, etc}, change. Get out of the old ones, seal them in a ziplock, and put on the new ones.

6- Take off your undies when sleeping, yes, your vulva and vagina need their own comfy and restful beauty sleep too, and that means a good amount of oxygen.

7- If you’re sexually active, choose your lube carefully, most of the lube on the market is horrible for your skin and tends to cause inflammation.

8- NO PADS! Sorry gals, but adhesive pads {pads with adhesive on the bottom to stick to your panties} are horrible for your vulva, contact only can aid major inflammation and infection. “The adhesive seeps into the underwear itself, so that the next time you use your undies,  you’re exposed to the adhesive directly against the skin. Washing is not very effective at removing all of the adhesive stuck in the undies, either.” It’s a catastrophe. If you don’t like or can’t find tampons or menstrual cups (the cups are ah-mazing), use organic pads which lack the adhesive and thus, the problems. Ask your grandma about those, she’ll probably know all about them.

The fact that I had to write all this speaks for itself. We need sex ed. I know many of you really don’t like me, but you can check up everything I write, everything written under my alias is a fact. Genital care is vital for your overall health, no, touching yourself is not wrong, masturbation is not wrong, knowing your body is never fucking wrong. Educate yourself. Read. Retain your curiosity. Dare to Ask. Question. You deserve to live a healthy life, don’t let years of bigotry and taboo fuck up your life. OH, btw, both males and females NEED to NOT scrub their respective genitals, when drying your genitals, pat gently, don’t scrub, or else you’ll cause major skin irritation. Anyway this was part one, part two will include genital care pre-sexual activities and everything you need to know about safe sex, and finally, part three will be about dealing with a STI, STD, or any genital cancer. I hope this helped any of you. Never hesitate to email me at teenntimes@gmail.com – just make sure the subject is “a question for K”, or just ask Google and pick a credible source.

Stay healthy and scandalous loves!

K

 

 

 

 

 

 

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