Finally, a Gynecologist Debunks the Most Common Vagina Myths
From the time we were born, we've all had an innate curiosity about our bodies. As babies, we look at our hands in astonishment, analyzing each finger in pure wonder, and delight. And this intrigue doesn't wane the older we get either. In fact, our inquisitive nature only grows as we try to understand all the changes our bodies experience both externally, and internally. While most of us will openly ask questions about our brain health, digestive concerns, heart issues, or our breasts, there's one body part many of us don't even discuss with our doctor: our vaginas.
According to celebrity gynecologist Sherry A. Ross, MD, (she treats Reese Witherspoon as well as Gigi, Bella, and Yolanda Hadid), and author of She-ology—The Definitive Guide to Women's Health, Period, a "shocking 45% of women never talk about their vaginal health with anyone, not even their doctor." So in a bid to open up the conversation, we asked Ross to share the most common questions she hears from women about their vagina and debunk a few myths along the way.
My vagina has a smell. Is that normal?
"All of us vagina owners know how disconcerting it can be to encounter a new smell down south, so the key is to know what your particular 'normal' smells like. Since the vagina is very sensitive to changes in your daily environment, anything that affects its pH balance will also affect the smell and consistency of discharge.
Factors that affect this balance include:
- Antibiotic use
- New sexual partners
- Frequency of sexual intercourse
- Sex toys
- Hormonal imbalances such as pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause
- Diet, stress, exercise, and weather changes
A strong, foul, fishy vaginal odor with a thin, grayish-white discharge is a classic symptom of bacterial infections, but it can also be a result of other types of organisms (infections) such as candidiasis, bacterial vaginosis/gardnerella, trichomoniasis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important that you see your healthcare provider who can take a series of vaginal cultures in order to determine what organism is involved. Many women will invariably self-diagnose vaginal discharge and itching as a common yeast infection. I know it seems much easier to head to the drugstore for an over-the-counter medication, but, unfortunately, you may only make your symptoms worse and delay a proper diagnosis and treatment.
Vaginal cultures can confirm what organism is causing your disruptive symptoms in order for the best treatment to be prescribed. Even if you tend towards more 'natural' remedies, please, before you start packing yogurt into your vagina, take a trip to your healthcare provider to check things out properly."
Content borrowed from: MYDOMAINE