Today’s article is a Q&A with answers to some of the most pressing questions about vaginal health and hygiene.
These answers are from top OBs and GYNs in the United States, India and Canada. We've presented them to you in a fun-to-read Q&A.
Hope you find them useful!
Question: My doc says I shouldn't shave my pubic hair. Should I really listen?
Answer: Shaving pubic hair unfortunately has a lot of complications to it.
Why? For one, people get more infections that way.
Your body naturally made those hairs for a reason. And that's to protect you from infections that could have made it into the vagina.
The skin itself is also VERY sensitive. Shaving cuts the skin which can track bacteria and even create infections in the skin itself.
My recommendation? I'd suggest you clip the hair as opposed to shaving.
Question: I was having sex with my husband and noticed that my labia minora was enlarged. It took about 30 minutes to go away. What happened?
Answer: That's an orgasm, baby!
The labia minora, majora and vagina are all stimulated by nerves and blood vessels. Those things enlarge during an orgasm and during arousal.
They're at their peak after orgasm. Which means that over time the blood flow will trickle away and the swelling will eventually go down.
Question: What kind of vaginal washes are the best? Or are they bad to use? If they are okay, are there good ones?
Answer: No! They're all off the table.
If anything, the only recommendation would be to use an external wash of water. Maybe water with a little bit of white vinegar. Now, not white vinegar straight on the labia! That would be bad.
But a teaspoon of vinegar in a squirt bottle of water is my recommendation. Just to rinse off externally. Not internally. You don't need to douche!
Question: Why white vinegar?
Answer: Because it has antiseptic properties... and it's also the gentlest on the skin.
Question: I've been finding intercourse painful lately. What could it be?
Answer: We get this question a lot as gynecologists and there's no answer for everyone. That's why it's our job to be good historians because there are a lot of reasons why sex can be painful.
And we can't assume as physicians that sex is “sex” is “SeX!!” People mean different things by 'sex.' We have to get people to specify what it is.
But generally speaking, it can be deep pain (also called dyspareunia). That's deep intercourse pain.
Also, there can be something called Vaginismus. A strange word, yeah. It's the automatic reaction because of fear of vaginal penetration.
And then there's genital pain without penetration. So it's important for the physician to ask a lot of questions. Isolating each individual case helps a lot.
In postmenopausal women, it could also happen because of the rapid drop in estrogen. Estrogen is like the plump collagen of the vagina.
Without it, the vagina thins out and becomes what we call friable. That’s why post-menopausal women bleed during intercourse.
[If you find it difficult lubricating… or you want to get wetter during sex, a good vaginal moisture supplement will help. Give FlowerPower’s SheJuicy💦 vaginal moisture supplement a try.]
Question: When should a lady start visiting a GYN, and how often should she do that?
Answer: 16 to 18 years is a good time to visit a GYN. And of course, if you're married or sexually active, it's a good idea to visit often. Once a year or two is a good idea. That's if you're not dealing with any vaginal issues.
Question: What if I miss my period?
Answer: That could mean that you're pregnant! Just kidding.
In case that is not the reason, then it could be a hormonal issue.
Hormonal issues can easily make you miss your period. A good example is thyroid issues or even PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome).
Visit an OB/GYN to find out what the real reason is.
Question: Tampons or Pads?
Answer: Both are great for menstrual hygiene. Tampons have an advantage that once you insert them, you're pretty free. You can do a lot of activities which, with the pad, are difficult to do.
For example, swimming and other sports.
If you use tampons, you should be very careful about your hygiene though.
Tampons can easily be a source of a genital infection. So if you're using a tampon, be very careful to change them frequently. Change pads frequently too, but especially the tampons.
The tampons or pads must be of very good quality and you must change them frequently, especially in moist or sweaty weather.
Question: How often should I change a pad in a day?
Answer: On the second or third day when the flow of the period is more, changing every three or four hours is a good idea.
Question: Tampons seem like a no-brainer. Is there something to keep in mind when using them?
Answer: Oh yeah, it's very easy to insert a tampon and completely forget about it for two or even three days!
The lady will then suddenly realize that her vagina has a very offensive smell. A pungent odor that smells so unpleasant that she’s embarrassed. Yes, it's very bad.
And that can easily cause what is medically called Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).
This happens when the tampons rot and infect the vagina. The infection goes through the whole body and the person must be admitted for treatment. If not caught early, it can be fatal.
Question: How should we clean the genital area? And what about all these vaginal cleansing products on the market?
Answer: Oh yeah. For vaginal hygiene, just make sure you take your bath at least once every day. And make sure you wash the area with simple warm water and vinegar (as mentioned above).
If you're too sensitive, then don't use vinegar because you really don't need to. Your vagina doesn't need it. If you do this, trust me, you don't need all those vaginal washes. And they're marketed very well, you know.
But if you're dealing with a vaginal infection, then boric acid suppositories (like FlowerPower's boric acid suppositories) are highly recommended. They’ll help you to maintain your pH and get rid of vaginal issues and odors.
They’re fast too.
Question: A lot of ladies are dealing with PCOD. So for a start, what is PCOD?
Answer: It's an acronym for Polycystic Ovarian Disease. Yeah, it's a heavy name.
It's a modern lifestyle disease. It's something that's happening to a lot of ladies now. It NEVER happened to people 10 or 20 years ago. Our parents never heard of a term like this.
Another important point about PCOD is this: A lot of stress and worry can predispose you to PCOD. So ladies who are constantly on the move, worried about the office, making tough decisions, etc.
Ladies like this usually formed the habit of not eating and sleeping at the right times. Nonetheless, it's still a complex hormonal disorder.
Question: It's obviously difficult for a lady not to have something to be worried or stressed about. What can we do to change this?
Answer: Yeah, a good idea is to plan your days in advance. That will help you eliminate stress and worry as much as possible. For example if you know you won't be home by 10 PM or midnight, try to cook and go to work with homemade food.
When you're back home, quickly change, bathe and go to sleep. And remember it's important to have an uninterrupted 7 hours of sleep. It's very important for the body to recover and recuperate from all the fatigue of a stressful day. And the healthier your body, the healthier your vaginal health, ironically.
Exercises are also a good idea. I'm talking about any physical activity that you look forward to... outdoor events that force your mind to take the stress off and relax. Remember, exercise should NOT be a punishment. You should always look forward to it.
Question: What is PCOS?
Answer: Polycystic ovary syndrome (or PCOS) occurs when PCOD has gone out of hand. Which means it's now out of the ovaries and spreading through the whole body. The effect of the hormonal imbalance starts affecting other parts of the body as well.
These people have higher chances of getting type II diabetes or even a metabolic syndrome. This makes one get obese in the waist... truncal obesity. They also get sleep apnea, high cholesterol and a host of other problems.
That's why it's called a package of symptoms, PCOS.
Question: Is this a serious problem?
Answer: It's not a life-threatening disease but it's something that should definitely be treated. If not, the lady risks going into metabolic syndrome and other issues that stem from that.
Question: What are some of the symptoms of PCOD?
Answer: PCOD is a more recent problem. Some of the symptoms include delayed or early periods, scantier periods, infrequent periods, or even heavy periods.
Weight gain, difficulty conceiving a baby or inability to lose weight could also be a symptom of PCOD. Other symptoms include facial hair and scalp hair loss. These symptoms happen because of the excess male hormone (androgen) in the body.
Question: What are the most common causes of PCOD/PCOS?
Answer: As I said earlier, PCOD is a very complex hormonal disorder and a lot of theories have been made. Some people say it's genetics.
But doctors are not quite sure.
So that's it for today's article.
If you have any other questions, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll reply to you with an OB's perspective. A really experienced OB's opinion.
And please if you're asking about a unique vaginal health issue, please include as many details as possible.
That'll help the doctor to give you tailored answers.
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