Breaking The Stigma
Women’s health issues hold a stigma in conversation that may hold back needed discussion. Whether it is feelings of embarrassment, shame or confusion, you shouldn’t be scared to seek medical help or counsel when you need it! At Orange Coast Women’s Medical Group, we encourage conversation about all women’s health topics, and wanted to dive deeper into some of the most common we encounter below.
When something “doesn’t feel right”, our first thought jumps to something abnormal. Vaginal odor can be embarrassing and annoying to deal with. Did you know that it might not mean something abnormal is going on, such as an infection?
There are sweat glands in the vulva/genital area that are like those in your armpits. When you sweat (which the genital area is very likely to since it’s usually snugly enclosed), the bacteria (which there are plenty in the genital area!) breaks down the sweat generating the unpleasant smell. Some odor at the end of the day or after a gym session may not be as uncommon as you think! You do not need any treatment for this.
Keep in mind:
- Rinsing with water is your friend.
- Avoid douching or washes, as these are usually harsh chemicals that disrupts the vagina’s natural pH which can then lead to imbalances such as bacterial vaginosis.
- Some women also experience some odor right before or after their menses. This isn’t necessarily abnormal, and it can resolve on its own without any treatment unless it persists.
- Another that is normal is odor after intercourse, especially if flavored lubricants were used (which I don’t recommend) or if it was unprotected and there was ejaculation.
- Any product you introduce into the vagina can disrupt the environment and result in odor/discharge. Semen is basic in pH (think bleach smell). Mix that with vaginal secretions and you get a lovely concoction that may result in odor for a day or 2. This too generally does not need treatment unless the odor is something persisting.
The take home message is the persistence of odor (not going away/worsening) and maybe some funky discharge, pain or fevers. These are symptoms that can be an indication of an infection going on and you should see your OB/GYN.
Leaking Of Urine
While this is can be an embarrassing topic, it is not uncommon for women of different ages and not just an issue for older women!
Women can leak during pregnancy. As the baby and uterus grows, the lower part of the uterus where the bladder attaches to also gets stretched out. With the baby’s head also in that area putting pressure or if the baby is kicking away in this area, you may leak urine. Don’t be alarmed, it may be more common than you think! However, sometimes what is perceived as urine maybe your water bag breaking early. Please address this with your OB/GYN to be evaluated.
Some women leak urine after their delivery during the postpartum period. This happens especially with activities like exercising, sneezing/coughing. A lot of this will improve with time.
You can do Kegels exercises to help strengthen the vaginal tissues. Sometimes urine infections can happen, and this may lead to incontinence. Check with your doctor to evaluate if you are having other symptoms such as burning with urination, going frequently, difficulties emptying completely.
Visit Your Gynecologist Today
These topics are only scratching the surface on everything you can discuss with your doctor. At Orange Coast Women’s Medical Group, we take pride in valuing each patient that walks through our doors. No topic is off limits in our office, and we encourage you to contact us to start your health journey today.
Dr. Renee Chen M.D., F.A.C.O.G is the author of this blog, and is proud to practice at Orange Coast Women’s Medical Group. She believes in taking a team approach to the patient-physician relationship and that the key lies in understanding the physical and emotional well-being of her patients.
To learn more about gynecological conditions at Orange Coast Women’s Medical Group or for additional information on regular OBGYN visits, call one of our conveniently located offices in Irvine, Laguna Hills, Tustin, Foothill Ranch or San Clemente at (949) 829-5500.