It’s that time again. The dreaded gynecologist appointment. There’s nothing to be afraid of because nothing shocks the gyno. However, many women are reluctant to ask the questions they want — and need — answered.
You know, like that unpleasant odor and itch after sex or your period? Believe it or not, spilling the beans to your doctor can calm your fears and get your problems treated. In fact, if something serious is going on, early diagnosis is critical. A survey of 391 women conducted by the Women’s Sexual Health Foundation found that 72% of respondents are uncomfortable talking to their gyno about “the sexy stuff,” and 73% would rather die than ask the doc, “What’s up.”
“Many women do not realize the vagina is a delicate ecosystem that requires a balanced environment to remain healthy; and everyday events like menstruation, sex and hormonal changes can throw off that balance. The result can be an embarrassing odor and discomfort,” says Lakeisha Richardson, MD, OB/GYN at Delta Medical Group Women’s Healthcare Clinic in Greenville, MS. “But, the solution to maintaining a healthy pH balance “down there” is as simple as a trip to the drug store. Healthy pH (the vagina’s acidity level) and beneficial lactobacillus are the keys to reducing the risk of vaginal issues. A vaginal pH of 3.5 to 4.5 indicates that there is a perfect amount of good bacteria (lactobacilli) and no overgrowth of the bad bacteria that can cause odor and irritation. An elevated pH means that the healthy flora of the vagina may struggle to survive, while harmful bacteria can thrive.”
Here are a few of the most common questions:
1. Sometimes I have an odor the morning after sex. Why does it happen and what can I do?
Don’t worry — you aren’t dirty and washing with perfumed soap or douching won’t help — it will only make it worse. This happens because your vaginal pH has been thrown out of balance. Think of your vagina as a delicate ecosystem that needs to be maintained at a pH of 3.5 to 4.5. The pH of semen has a pH of 7.1 to 8, so, when introduced to the vagina, an odor or itch can occur, usually the morning after having sex. Lots of women douche to feel clean and fresh but water has a pH of 7. While it might make you feel fresh for a short time it won’t solve the problem. Here’s what you can do:
- Over the counter, RepHresh Gel has been clinically shown to restore normal vaginal pH and eliminate odor without a prescription as it bonds to the vaginal walls and provides long-lasting support for up to three full days
- Avoid douching unless you balance pH afterward. Try RepHresh Clean Balance.
- Don’t use feminine products that contain deodorants or scented soaps
2. I have a lot of discharge and irritation, but over-the-counter yeast medications don’t work. What should I do?
Less than one-third of women who think they have a yeast infection actually do. Two thirds instead suffer from bacterial vaginosis (BV), a proliferation of “bad“ bacteria, often caused by an unbalanced vaginal pH. If you aren’t sure whether your symptoms indicate BV or a yeast infection, see your doctor before you apply any over-the-counter treatment. Once BV is diagnosed, a course of antibiotics is required to eliminate the symptoms. Recurrence rates are very high. The best way to prevent recurrent BV is to maintain a normal vaginal pH and keep yeast and bacteria balanced every day. RepHresh Pro-B contains the strains of probiotics that specifically promote vaginal health to balance yeast and bacteria every day. Pro-B contains Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14, two clinically documented probiotic lactobacilli specifically optimized for vaginal health as opposed to a probiotic or yogurt that supports immunity or digestion.
3. Is there anything I can use when I’m traveling or at the office for immediate relief?
RepHresh Cooling Relief Vaginal Anti-Itch Spray is for relief of odor and itch, on the go. The unscented 2-in-1 spray contains hydrocortisone, the No. 1 doctor-recommended anti-itch ingredient, and has a portable design that sprays in any orientation, even upside-down for ease of use any time.
Going to the gyno may not be top of the list, but it should be right up there. If you are nervous about the exam take your notes and questions in with you so you don’t forget. Talking about your anxieties can make the rest of the appointment a piece of cake.
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Dr. Lakeisha Richardson, F.A.C.O.G is a well-respected and board-certified Obstetrics & Gynecologist. She practices at the Delta Medical Group Women’s Healthcare Clinic in Greenville, Mississippi.