In a ideal world, we’d be able to bask in the afterglow of sex for as long as we pleased without worrying about things like vaginal infections and yeast overgrowth. (I know, what a way to kill the mood.) That’s why, instead of lounging in my lover’s arms like I’m the protagonist of a Starz period romance, I make a beeline to the bathroom almost immediately after the act. (Post-sex bliss is nice and all, but I really don’t want to get a UTI.)
But is it really necessary to have a post-sex hygiene routine? And if so, what would that routine entail? We went to the experts to find out.
Luckily, you don’t need the equivalent of a 10-step Korean skincare regimen to stay healthy. “There’s no need for any extensive post-sex hygiene,” says gynecologist Barb DePree, a gynecologist and women’s health provider. However, that doesn’t mean you should sit back and do nothing. There are a few things you should do — and should not do — to prevent infections and keep your vagina healthy.
Go to the bathroom
This is one of the most common pieces of post-sex advice out there, and for good reason. During sex, bacteria can be introduced into your bladder. Peeing will flush the bacteria out, and reduce your chances of infection, says DePree.
Whatever you do, do not douche
Douching is kind of like going to a tanning bed or popping a pimple — people still do it, even though there’s plenty of evidence that they shouldn’t. The TL;DR: don’t douche. “This can cause a pH imbalance and lead to odor and discomfort,” explains DePree.
Rinse with mild soap
“The skin of the vulva can be very sensitive, so this is an area where the ‘less is best’ rule applies,” says DePree. Use a mild soap and clean water to gently rinse off. Don’t scrub yourself, and don’t use any “specialized” or “scented” cleansers. “These are often harsh and irritating, or may contain alcohol or preservatives that are very drying to the skin,” explains DePree. And whatever you do, steer clear of scented feminine wipes and freshening sprays, as she says these can throw off your pH.
Also, there’s no need to get all up in your vagina to clean it out, because vaginas are self-cleaning. Vaginas are pretty cool like that. Meaning: rinse around your outer and inner labia. (See above re: no douching.)
Use a warm washcloth
If you can’t or don’t want to take a shower post-sex (hey, sometimes you’re just too tired), you can also use a warm washcloth to clean up. This is especially important if you use certain lubricants. “Some lubricants contain alcohol, which can be drying to the vaginal mucosa, or glycerin, which can be a food source for bacteria or yeast,” says Michael Ingber, MD, a board-certified urogynecologist and Fellow of the International Society for Specialized Women’s Health. Just make sure to wipe gently from front to back, and not the other way around.
Now that you know what a solid post-sex hygiene routine looks like, you can focus on having more moments like this (hi, Jamie Fraser) — and less on worrying if your effing up your vagina because you don’t shower every time after getting down. I certainly know I will be.