Infections, periods, pelvic problems… A woman seriously has a lot to deal with! There are a ton of myths about women’s health online that only make these problems worse. Read on for science-backed myth busters!
Yogurt Can Treat A Yeast Infection
Vaginal infections, the dreadful phrase that women fear the most, are incredibly stressful to deal with. 70% of the women struggle with a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis at some point in their lifetime.1 Uncomfortable itching, discharge, pain and bad odor, how annoying!
The standard treatments for vaginal infections are antibiotics or antifungals. But more than half of the women will have a recurrence within 12 months.2 Many are desperate to find an alternative cure, which made natural remedies like yogurt a promising one.
It is true that yogurt with friendly probiotic cultures can be good for your gut health, which may in turn strengthen your immune system to fight infections in general. However, some ingredients in yogurt can easily make the condition worse. For example, the high sugar content can feed the yeast, and the milk in commercial yogurts often contain steroid hormones and antibiotics that are injected into cows.3
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a recurrent yeast infection usually requires anti-fungal medications and additional treatments, such as a boric acid vaginal suppository that works by restoring the vaginal pH. Try these scientifically supported treatments instead!
Moms Should Just Accept Urinary Incontinence
There is no doubt that childbirth comes with dramatic changes to the female body. Pelvic floor disorders are seen as taboos, but they are so common among women. Half of the moms will experience pelvic prolapse or incontinence, and they can get pretty serious if you leave them unattended. So should moms just accept them for the love of their baby? Absolutely not!
Don’t ever let uncomfortable and unappealing pelvic problems lower your self-esteem. As a woman who has done the hard work of giving birth, you need to love your postpartum body with these recovery methods:
- Keep a healthy weight as just 5% decrease in weight can lead to a 50% reduction in incontinence frequency. 4
- Use kegel exercises, pilates and physiotherapy to strengthen your pelvic floor.
- Consult a urogynecologist who specializes in treating incontinence and prolapse.
A Labiaplasty Surgery Is Only For Celebrities
This is so not true! A labiaplasty surgery is not just for aesthetic purposes but can be a lifesaver for many women.
It’s not uncommon for women to have excessively long or enlarged labia tissue that can cause troubles. These extra tissues are prone to tears and are often painful during sex and exercise. For some women, they cause the urine to hit their inner thigh instead of going into the toilet. Sometimes, they may even provide a breeding ground for harmful bacteria or yeast, causing painful infections!
While there is a proportion of women who get a labiaplasty to fix the asymmetric appearance of their valval region (which is perfectly fine too), many actually need the surgery for their health. For them, vaginal rejuvenation is an empowering experience that benefits both physical and mental health. There shouldn’t be shame in improving the function and appearance of any part of your body!
Pads And Tampons Are Safer Than Menstrual Cups
Many women always thought that period pads and tampons are made of cotton and are completely safe. That’s not completely true!
In 2018, the Women’s Voices for the Earth organization conducted a testing for the pads and tampons on the market and uncovered some disturbing truths. All four brands of tampons tested contained a known reproductive toxin, carbon disulphide. Some products also contained toluene, xylene, and the cancer-causing methylene chloride.
Were any of them listed on the product descriptions? No!
Women have been using these products every month. What could be their long-term health consequences? No idea!
In contrast, menstrual cups are usually made of medical grade silicone and do not contain such toxins. In fact, cups have also been shown to prevent the potentially life-threatening toxic shock syndrome sometimes associated with tampons.
So, as much as you resist the idea of putting a cup inside of you, it is a safer, more hygienic solution that just happens to be more sustainable and less expensive too.
You Should Clean The Inside Of The Vagina With Feminine Products
Talking about period, does it remind you of the funny smell down there? This is usually because the menstrual fluid interacts with the oxygen in the air and starts to decompose, which is just a nicer word for “rotting”.
Many vaginal products on the market say that you need to clean the inside of the vagina, which is totally wrong and dangerous! Your vagina requires an acidic pH range of 3.8 to 4.5, carefully maintained by a range of native bacteria such as Lactobacillus. When your vagina is healthy, it can keep itself clean with the help of natural secretions. However, many over-the-counter vaginal products are harmful to these friendly bacteria and disrupt the vaginal flora, increasing your risk of vaginal infections.5
Instead, you should follow these healthy habits to remove the vaginal smell during periods. Most importantly, avoid perfumed soaps, gels and antiseptics that disrupt the vaginal flora and pH balance. Only use water and clinically tested, unscented soap to gently wash your external vulva, not inside the vagina!
You Can’t Exercise Or Have Sex During A Period
Exercise and sex are a no-no during period times because they are unhygienic and lead to cramps, right? Not according to science!
Quite the opposite. Research has also found that women who exercise regularly experience fewer period cramps.6 This is because exercise triggers the release of endorphins, the natural “feel-good” hormones and painkillers. And which type of physical exercise releases the most endorphins? It’s sex! Orgasms from sex can give you a flood of endorphins, many folds over other forms of exercise.
So do yourself a favor and don’t stop all your physical activities during those days. If you don’t mind period sex, check out these hacks that help minimize the mess. If you are still not a fan, Just take it easy and do some gentle exercises like yoga and jogging.
Many of these myths are so ingrained to us since a young age, but it’s time to rewire the brain. Stop trusting “common sense” or “Dr. Google” and implement science-backed practices for your health!
Dr. Ammar Mahmoud
Dr. Mahmoud is a board eligible gynecologist and highly trained cosmetic surgeon specializing in cosmetic and functional gynecological medicine.
- Anon, 2010. Vulvovaginal Candidiasis. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, 55(3), pp.283–284.
- Bradshaw, C.S. et al., 2006. High Recurrence Rates of Bacterial Vaginosis over the Course of 12 Months after Oral Metronidazole Therapy and Factors Associated with Recurrence. The Journal of Infectious Diseases, 193(11), pp.1478–1486.
- Williams, A., 2002. Yogurt: still a favorite for vaginal candidiasis? Journal of the National Medical Association, 94(4), p.A10.
- Subak, L. et al., 2009. Weight Loss to Treat Urinary Incontinence in Overweight and Obese Women. The New England Journal of Medicine, 360(5), pp.481–490.
- Fashemi, B. et al., 2013. Effects of feminine hygiene products on the vaginal mucosal biome. Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease, 24(1), pp.1–6.
- Daley, A. (2008). Exercise and primary dysmenorrhea: a comprehensive and critical review of the literature. Sports Medicine; 38(8): 659–670.