Perception about the need to sanitize, suppress, and manage a woman’s monthly flow or her vagina in general continues to exist in subtle and overt marketing messages related to feminine products – pads, tampons, douches, birth control, often scented with essences of a spring meadow or a summer evening. Since women are buying products to alter the natural odor of their vaginas, how ingrained is the belief that the vagina is icky and always needs to smell like fresh flowers?
The need to keep that area pretty could have something to do with the fact that a woman’s period, her monthly flow, used to be considered a pollutant. Today, in some countries (such as Bali and India) and in some religions (such as Brahmin) menstruating women are still treated differently. Some women are expected to sleep separately, use different cutlery and plates, and to avoid intimacy with their husbands. These women are considered polluted, their flow a pollutant. A pollutant is considered to be a substance – a chemical or waste product – that renders the air, soil, water, or natural resource harmful or unsuitable for a specific purpose. Society tends to want to dispose of pollutants to keep things pretty and tasteful.
Here’s something to consider – if your cookie area is stinky, and you notice a fishy smell with discharge, typically worse after sex, that’s your body’s way of communicating that something is off balance. Before trying to fake out the smell, by probably using a chemical-ridden product, you might want to check to see if you have bacterial vaginosis (BV) – inflammation in the vagina due to an overgrowth of bacteria disturbing your vagina’s bacterial balance.
Not familiar with BV? Not surprising. This health condition tends to fly under the radar. By virtue of our taboo on this subject matter and other issues “down there,” it’s not often openly talked about at cocktail parties. And for those women who have BV, 50 percent don’t know they have it, because they don’t experience symptoms. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 30 percent of American Women suffer from BV and possibly more than 60 percent of African American women experience the condition. It’s estimated by the American Pregnancy Association that 10 percent to 30 percent of pregnant women have bacterial vaginosis.
The cause of BV isn’t exactly known, although there are different ways that your vagina’s pH can become unbalanced. Your risks increase with a new sexual partner, or if you have a lot of sex partners. Apparently a man’s penis can carry bacteria that’s shared with a woman during sex. BV also increases your risk for an STD. In case you think chowing on lactobacillus acidophilus found in yogurt will help your BV, it won’t, because dairy bacteria doesn’t reside in your vagina.
The more women are aware of how amazing their bodies are designed, including their vaginal microbes, the more empowered they’ll be to make informed healthful choices. So the next time you’re at a party wouldn’t it be fun to kick off a conversation with one of your girlfriends by asking, “How are your vagina’s microbes doing lately?”
If you ever wondered why pre-term births are so common lately or what’s up with all the allergies and other serious health issues that babies and children are experiencing, check out my next blog post – Digging Deeper into the Vaginal Microbiome. We’ll be exploring how bacterial vaginosis is impacting the health of women and their babies, and looking at steps to consider to maintain a healthy balance in your vagina.
Lorraine Giordano Inspired To Health www.inspiredtohealth.net firstname.lastname@example.org 201.344.6448