The Tea on your V: Why Your Vaginal Health Matters

In a world where conversations about women's health have traditionally been hushed, over the past decade there has been a noticeable shift towards greater transparency and openness in discussing vaginal health. From the wider range of sustainable and innovative feminine products to greater investment in educational initiatives, women across the country are being empowered more than ever to be at one with their intimate hygiene. However, despite this progress, many women are still confused about their anatomy, with 45% unable to correctly label their vagina, highlighting a deep-rooted culture of shame and misinformation [1].

Our recent nationwide survey aims to explore how women across different regions and age groups look after their vaginas, highlighting the impact of societal stigmas and expectations. Too often, misinformation and cultural taboos around topics like cleanliness lead women to adopt routines that do more harm than good, so to address this, we’ve enlisted Dr Babak Ashrafi to dispel the most deep-rooted myths around feminine care.

Societal pressures and their impact on vaginal health

According to our research, just 35% of women are completely comfortable with their vagina. Over a quarter of 17-42-year-olds are anxious about how their vagina looks, and 1 in 5 women are even anxious about how it smells. This anxiety, paired with social media trends, drives women to use hygiene practices like perfumed soaps, douching, and even deodorant down there, which can irritate your vagina and increase the risk of bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections.

We spoke to 1,000 women of all ages across the UK, discovering that 7 in 10 women are following some kind of ‘trend’ when it comes to their health with the most common one being pubic hair removal, followed by feminine wipes. In addition to this, a quarter of women think pubic hair removal is important for vaginal hygiene, rising to over a third of millennials buying into this.

The study continued to find 1 in 7 women feel pressured by social media to remove their pubic hair, whilst almost 1 in 6 turn to social media for vaginal health advice over speaking to a professional. Gen Z were the most influenced by this with over a third choosing social media for their advice.

We spoke to Dr. Babak Ashrafi, a GP with over 16 years of experience specialising in women’s health about the best practice for looking after your vagina.

‘’Maintaining optimal feminine hygiene is essential for your vagina’s overall health and well-being. Everyone’s vagina and pH is different, so trends will impact each vagina differently but your basic routine should only be warm water and a mild, unscented soap to wash the external genital area (vulva) daily. The vagina itself does not require cleansing as it has a self-cleaning mechanism, so don’t let social media or advertising tell you otherwise. Avoid scented soaps, vaginal deodorants, and scented panty liners, as these can disrupt the natural pH balance of the vagina and cause irritation or infections."

Dr Babak Ashrafi Clinical Lead for Service Development
Dr Babak Ashrafi Clinical Lead for Service Development

"In regard to pubic hair, this serves important functions, such as protecting the genital area from friction and irritation, regulating temperature, and controlling moisture to reduce infection risks. Ultimately, pubic hair removal is a personal choice but isn’t necessary for good hygiene.

Our survey revealed that several women are also using practices such as vaginal steaming (4%), yoni eggs (6%), and using yoghurt intravaginally (6%). These practices lack sufficient scientific support and may pose risks, so they are best completely avoided.”

How are Brits caring for their vaginas

Despite Dr Babak advising seeking medical advice for any concerns, our study revealed less than half of women would visit a health professional for their vaginal health, often turning to social media (16%), friends and family (10%), or even their period apps (10%) instead. Over half of women over the age of 43 stated they never seek medical advice for vaginal health concerns despite being the most at risk for developing infections and cervical cancer.

When it comes to female anatomy, knowledge really is power, but ensure your ‘knowledge’ is coming from reputable sources and not just an average Joe from TikTok. In this share-happy social media culture that we are consistently exposed to, when does accessible information become downright harmful? For example, vagina steaming on TikTok has over 10K videos, with some reaching almost half a million views. Our study found that as many as 800,000 women are trying this trend in the UK, despite the vagina’s natural self-cleaning ability and doctors advising against it.

The study continued to reveal, over half of women (56%) are unaware of the risk of staying in sweaty gym clothes

Sweaty gym clothes create a damp, warm environment promoting the growth of bacteria and yeast and increasing the risk of yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis. Changing out of sweaty clothes promptly and wearing breathable fabrics can help maintain a healthy vaginal environment.

whilst 53% don’t think weeing after sex is necessary.

Urinating after sex can help flush out any bacteria that may have been introduced into the urethra during intercourse. While it's not a foolproof method, urinating after sex is a simple and effective way to support urinary tract health and reduce UTI’s.

Misinformation and societal pressures often lead women to adopt harmful hygiene routines that can disrupt the natural balance of the vagina and increase the risk of conditions such as bacterial vaginosis. Yet, maintaining vaginal health requires simple, uncomplicated practices and a clear understanding of how to care for this vital part of the body. Any health concerns about your vagina should be discussed with a health professional.

If you are concerned about vaginal irritation or infections such as bacterial vaginosis, Superdrug Online Doctor can help you find the information and treatments you may need through our women's health hub.


  • [1]