Keeping our bodies healthy as we get older is so important, and this includes our private parts, too. These days, it seems like more and more women are being proactive about taking care of their downstairs region, which is great — but some of these women may be buying vulvar and vaginal products that are essentially useless, according to Lauren Streicher, MD, an associate clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University.
Don't waste your money, energy, and time on products that won't help you — and in some cases may even harm you. Dr. Streicher wants you to skip these products the next time you go shopping, no matter how appealing they may sound...
Douching — also known as "cleaning out" the vagina with water or other fluids — is very popular among women in our country. Almost one out of five women aged 15 to 44 practice douching in the United States alone. But Streicher recommends that all women stop douching immediately — or avoid it if they've never tried it in the first place. "There's absolutely no medical reason to douche," says Streicher. "In fact, it's harmful."
Not only does douching not help you in any way, it actually increases the risk of infection, inflammation, and even pelvic inflammatory disease. According to Streicher, it even makes the vagina more vulnerable to very serious infections such as gonorrhea or chlamydia.
Considering how important is to keep your vaginal pH balanced to prevent infections, you may have heard a thing or two about pH washes. While a pH wash might sound like a simple, convenient way to keep things clean and in sync down there, Streicher describes any such claims as "absolute nonsense."
"Do not buy a pH wash," Streicher says. "It’s a complete, 100-percent waste of money."
The reason she warns against buying a pH wash? An alteration in the pH always happens inside the vagina, but a a pH wash, on the other hand, does not go inside of the vagina — it goes on the vulva, the outside part of the female genitalia. And using a vulvar wash for a vaginal issue is never a good idea.
"The way I describe it is: If you have really bad breath, you can wash your face all day long and it’s not going to help your bad breath," says Streicher.
Not only do vulvar washes like pH washes have zero benefits, they can even be irritating in some cases.
Over-The-Counter Yeast Tests
The last time you went to your local pharmacy, you might have seen some over-the-counter tests that supposedly tell you if you have yeast. These tests usually cost quite a lot of money and yield you very little information, says Streicher. Plus, these tests don't really tell you if you happen to have another infection, such as bacterial vaginosis, which is commonly mistaken for a recurring yeast infection. (And treating a yeast infection when you actually have BV is useless at best.)
If you suspect that you might have a vaginal infection of any kind, definitely make an appointment with your gynecologist. It's always better to be safe — and to have your most sensitive parts checked out by a professional — than be sorry.