Vagina Shop helps students learn cleanliness

The Vagina Shop is teaching women about vaginal hygiene tips. / 1 2 3RF
The Vagina Shop is teaching women about vaginal hygiene tips. / 1 2 3RF

You may think a Vagina Shop (VS) is a new adult store but that is far from the truth.

The VS is actually an educational initiative to provide female students with a safe and relaxed environment. It aims to educate them on the importance of feminine hygiene and to showcase a range of feminine hygiene products.

The idea, a collaboration between Adcock Ingram and GynaGuard, came about when they realised that many young women feel uncomfortable requesting information for intimate feminine matters.

Dr Tebatso Tebeila, a medical doctor at Adcock Ingram, says that feminine hygiene has been limited to focusing on periods and sex education. But the Vagina Shop seeks to change this by focusing on ensuring how to achieve optimum vaginal pH, using products designed for every day, and not using generic soap for vaginal health care.

"The vagina is paramount to a woman's femininity. It requires good care to allow a woman to feel good about herself," Tebeila says. "It is also important to avert genital infections and other complications that can result from lack of care.

When a close shave just doesn't cut it

A 2016 study by researchers from the University of California has found that 59% of women reported grooming their pubic area because they thought it would make their vagina cleaner or more hygienic.

The study, which was conducted on more than 3000 women in the US, showed that the majority of women shaved weekly.

They did this in spite of reports that shaving one's pubic hair makes a woman's private area more vulnerable to infections.

Other findings showed that 31.5% of women shaved because they believe it makes their genitals more attractive and that 21.1% of women do so because their partner prefers it that way.

The study also found that women not only groom for "social events".

Women also shave when visiting a healthcare professional because they are self-conscious about their appearance even in a nonsocial setting.

"All intimate areas of a woman require special attention, especially the sensitive areas of our bodies, good personal hygiene including daily showers, wiping front to back, wearing the correct cotton-lined underwear, healthy eating habits and drinking lots of water. These are everyday activities that can be helpful."

Tebeila says she wants to take a leading role in the feminine hygiene market and educate women regarding the importance of an overall hygiene routine.

"This is not something that should be talked about in hushed tones. It should be done in a way to give women confidence in their own bodies and empower them with the knowledge they need to stay healthy."

Mamabua Molepo, brand manager at Adcock Ingram, says that one can expect to learn about a complete daily hygiene routine from a Vagina Shop.

Molepo says the Vagina Shop has been busy at various university campuses since the beginning of September in a bid to reach wider audiences.

"These activations are designed to empower women with the knowledge and availability of specially designed products [to enable them] to make the right choices when it comes to their feminine hygiene," Molepo says.

Tebeila adds that most women would be surprised to learn that their usual hygiene routine is actually wrong.

"Women tend to go to great lengths to 'clean' their intimate areas.

"While there is nothing wrong with being clean, here are some of the things we should avoid:

Tebeila says that a confident woman is one who takes pride in her body and strives to keep it healthy.

"Ensure that you visit your doctor for regular checkups and to have annual pap smears.

"Take note of any abnormal discharges; if it has an unpleasant smell, odd colour and it itches, then you should see a doctor immediately.

"Remember to always practise safe sex."

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