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Clean hands, healthy vagina: Washing hands before sex

You wash your hands before you eat – but are you scrubbing up before sex?  

 Is your partner? 

Even if you aren’t doing dirty chores, your hands pick up lots of creepy germs throughout the day. You may wash your hands, but what about the stranger who touched that door handle, shopping cart or touchscreen before you?  

Now ask yourself, “Do I want those germs anywhere near my healthy vagina ?” Of course not. Gross.   

December 6 to 12 is National Handwashing Awareness Week, and one of the most crucial moments for healthy hand washing is before sex. Or before anyone’s hands touch anyone’s genitalia.  

It may be a mood buster, but if you don’t, all the germs that have accumulated on your hands and your partner’s hands will be transferred directly to your vulva, vagina and urinary tract. Or your hand germs will transfer to your partner, who passes them right back to you. If you engage in oral sex, all those viruses and bacteria are happy to transfer to your mouth, too. 

Risks to your body

The introduction of foreign microbes to your vagina, vulva or urinary tract can cause bacterial vaginal infections or vaginitisyeast infections or urinary tract infections (UTI).  

How bad could it be?  

Even hard surfaces that appear clean can transfer germs such as:  

  • MRSA 
  • E. Coli 
  • Salmonella 
  • Clostridium Difficile (C. Difficile) 
  • Campylobacter 
  • Norovirus
  • Rotavirus
  • Cold and flu viruses 

 But you don’t have to go out into the world to pick up something nasty.   

Hand Washing Hazards in the Home 

You think you’re in the clear because you both washed up right before you sat down to watch a movie and check your voicemail. Surprise! Your phone and your TV remote are likely the filthiest surfaces you’ll touch all day. Phones can have 10 to 20 times the amount of germs found on a public toilet seat. A hand that checks texts and then immediately touches your vagina? That’s a high-density germ transfer.  

Heavy Petting

Did you greet and pet the dog or cat when you walked in the door? More than 240 diseases that can be passed to humans via parasites could be living on your pets.  By petting you could pick up tiny roundworm eggs, ringworm or bacteria from the animal’s saliva. Is being friendly to animals a proven threat to your vagina? Maybe not, but still disturbing. Can you get roundworms from ingesting eggs? Oh yes, you can. Can you get ringworm on your vulva? Also yes. 

Keeping it clean

A quick hand rinse is not going to do the job. Here’s how to do it correctly: 

  • Wet your hands and apply soap. Warm or cold water is fine. 
  • Rub your hands together and scrub every surface and cranny – knuckles, back of your hands, between your fingers, fingernails – up to your wrist.
  • Continue scrubbing for at least 20 seconds. That’s about as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” or the alphabet song twice. You need soap and scrubbing together to loosen up germs and bacteria.
  • Thoroughly rinse away all the soap and germs and dry your hands with a clean towel or hand dryer.
  • Use a piece of tissue or paper towel to open the door.
  • Alcohol-based hand rubs are a quick and mobile alternative to hand washing when thoroughly applied. 

At home, regularly clean surfaces such as doorknobs, refrigerator handles, your phone, your remote, your keyboard and your countertops and tables. 

And, it might be a hard habit to break, but don’t take your phone into the bathroom where it is exposed to E. coli. If you wash your hands then grab your phone you may as well skip washing. 

Respect and care for your vagina and keep it – and your whole self – as far away from disgusting bacteria, viruses and particulates as possible. Also keep away from anyone who thinks it’s okay to touch your vagina with dirty, germy hands. Protect your vaginal and urinary tract health – insist on hand washing. Every.Time.