Ladies It is Time to Open Up About Women’s Health #pHBalancingAct (Giveaway)

As I sit here and write this, I think back to all those uncomfortable conversations we as women have had to have over the years. At the time they seemed uncomfortable, but in reality they were necessary and prepared us for more. Talking about the changes of life, puberty, sex etc with teachers, parents and medical professionals may be tough in the beginning. However the more you talk, the easier it gets. I always thought I was an open person and could talk about anything. Then I realized your body does not stop changing but people stop talking. I had things going on and I had no idea who to talk to or how to begin.

So I just did it. I started a conversation with  my mom about her history and hormones. I know she was not thrilled about it, but after a while she seemed to open up. I spoke to my Dr about some concerns I had, and she was great, and encouraged me to keep asking questions. Then I talked to my girls and my friends letting them know of my experiences and if they needed someone to talk to, I was here.

What I noticed is all women want to talk about their health. The word vagina and vaginal health makes some people uncomfortable but once it is out there, they are relaxed and willing to share their stories. Women are happy to learn they can talk openly and know they  are not alone.

Yes, I said vagina. We all have one (ladies) and it is time we took our health seriously and open up about our health issues. All of them.

I was a young mom and hadg four babies over the years. I quickly learned to speak up and express any concerns I may have with my dr. My mom had cervical cancer and it took me a long time to get her to talk to me about it. Concerned about my health and my girls, I pushed the issues and kept asking questions. I have two girls and two boys and knew it was important to teach them about women’s health. One day my boys will be husbands and dads and need to be there for the women in their lives. It is important people are comfortable about this subject.

Discussing your health and a women’s vagina is more than periods and pregnancy.

The truth is that common issues like yeast infections affect most women at some point during their lives. In fact, About 5% of women suffer from recurrent yeast infections (more than 4 infections in the last year, or at least 3 infections in the last year that are unrelated to antibiotic use) so it’s time we stop being ashamed and start talking about it.

Did you know women often look to the internet for answers to their most intimate health questions?  They’re often too embarrassed to ask their friends, loved ones, and in some cases, doctors. As we all know Dr Google is not always the best resource for health related answers.

 

I recently had the opportunity to have an interview with Dr Marla Shapiro and was able to ask some really important questions many women are afraid to ask.

Kim: My first question is ‘Does odour and itch mean it’s a yeast infection or is it possible it’s something else?’
Dr. Shapiro: So, I’m so glad you opened up with that question because inevitably that’s the most common thing that women associate – either itch, discharge, odour – must equal an infection and often will self-medicate when it isn’t, leading to sort of this vicious cycle of inappropriate treatment vs. symptoms. So, most women are stunned to hear that in fact yeast is not the most common vaginal infection that we see. When we look at the overall infections, maybe it’s about 29 per cent of the infections we see, the vast majority, 50 per cent, are bacterial vaginosis, and, women are even more stunned to hear that often odour, itch, discharge may not be a reflection of an infection, but more a reflection of vaginal pH. So, the whole concept of “what’s my vagina doing having a pH” is a little confusing. But in fact, our body does have pH’s and we know that the healthy environment of the vagina has a very narrow pH of about 3.5 to 4.5. The easiest way for me to explain that to women is if you think about your swimming pool or you go to a swimming pool, you always know that they’re looking at the pH in the swimming pool and if it’s too alkaline, you can get an overgrowth of algae or other organisms. So too, if your vaginal pH is not within that very narrow range, it can promote a change in odour, or lead to symptoms of itching, or any type of discharge. So, I’ll say if you know it’s a yeast infection because you’ve previously been diagnosed and you really know what a yeast infection looks like, feels like, then by all means self-medicate. But if you’re not sure, it may actually be a reflection of your own normal vaginal scent or it may be that it’s within the range of normal, but your pH is off either because of the impact of hormones, or diet, or maybe sexual activity, or you’re just after your period, or it may relate to the use of a spermicide. I mean, there’s quite a long list of things that can impact on the local environment of the vagina and then impact secondarily on the pH leading to the symptoms that you’ve just described.
Kim: How do women know that they’re okay to use over-the-counter? And it’s just their pH? And at what point do they get concerned and have to speak to a doctor?
Dr. Shapiro: If you distress and you’re concerned, then I always tell patients they’re on the side of caution. You know, do your due diligence, make sure that nothing is going on rather than self-medicating yourself if you’re not sure what’s going on. I just had a patient in to see me this week who was sure she had a vaginal infection. She said somethings off – I’ve got a new odour and I’ve got discharge, I’ve got itching. The discharge was really non-specific. It wasn’t sort of that yeasty, creamy thing that you think about with yeast. Or it wasn’t that really horrible fishy odour that we think about with bacterial vaginosis, and we did the due diligence cultured for everything. Everything was negative and I was able to say, you know this may be a reflection of a change in your vaginal pH for a number of reasons. We don’t necessarily need to pinpoint one, let’s try and get your pH normalized by using this every three days and let’s see what happens to the odour, the itch and the discharge, because many women will reach for an over-the-counter product without necessarily there being the same type of strong science evidence that supports its use. So, I think the overall message is that if you don’t know, then do your due diligence. Come in, find out, ask. If you’re quite sure that you know this isn’t a yeast infection and this isn’t something that feels like another infection, then by all means this is something that you can try.

Kim: ‘Would this be a preventative treatment or something you would use once you start noticing something is going on?’
Dr. Shapiro: So, yes to both. Certainly maintaining your vaginal pH is definitely preventative and we also know that when studies have been done when looking in women with low-grade bacterial vaginosis and randomizing them in clinical trials, to the standard of care which is usually a medication called metronidazole vs. acidifying the pH, that in fact it can treat low-grade bacterial vaginosis. So, there’s sort of no downside. I’ll tell patients that if you can try it and if it’s not getting better, then by all means you can come see me. You know, it’s both directions. You can come see me first or you can try something and come see me after if you find it’s not getting better, but definitely in terms of prevention. And, if we have someone in my world in terms of where I look at a probiotic, I look at a probiotic when somebody’s got a recurrent problem. So, if despite acidifying the environment, trying to modify diet or whatever it is that we’re trying to do to decrease the risk of a current infection, if I have someone who has recurrent bacterial vaginosis or recurrent yeast candidiasis, one of the things I’ll say is let’s look at a probiotic because we know that probiotics fuel the good bacteria which is what we want to happen. We want to maintain sort of the “vaginal ecosystem”, the ratio between the good bacteria, bad bacteria, the good yeast and so on. And by using an oral probiotic, it has to be a probiotic that will actually be good for the vaginal health. Women think, you know, probiotics, all probiotics are the same. That’s absolutely not true. There are two specific probiotics that have been identified in the medical literature as being useful in this type of situation in terms of vaginal health.

Kim: Ok great. My other question is ‘I have a lot of readers who are new moms or pregnant moms. Is this a product that they can use?’
Dr. Shapiro: So, such a good question. Certainly in terms of moms, absolutely. And we even have scientific literature that’s looked at the use of the probiotic, of the RepHresh Gel, in pregnant women with low-grade bacterial vaginosis and women who are pregnant with low-grade bacterial vaginosis we can’t use the treatment we normally would because it can be teratogenic, meaning harmful to the fetus. There have been studies that have looked at the safety profile of this. But in all situations with all pregnant women, I tell them don’t use anything either over-the-counter or without consulting with your physician first. You want to make sure that it’s going to be safe in pregnancy. There is scientific data that looks at that, but as a general rule, my general rule for pregnancy is check first. Always check first.
Kim: Ok. And my last question is ‘Do you have any tips on how to get women to open up and talk about this, especially to their doctors? I know some women are so uncomfortable about it.’
Dr. Shapiro: You’re absolutely right about that. I think speaking to people like you is critical because you open up the window of opportunity to say, “we’re talking vaginas today, that’s right, vaginas.” You know, it’s a word you may be uncomfortable with, but it’s something you need to know about and it’s such an important part of your physical health and your sexual health, and in fact your mental health as well. So, I think that the more that we normalize this, the more we talk about this, the more that we empower women to understand things like vaginal pH and the vaginal ecosystem and what happens in your vagina and how it can change and be sensitive to a number of factors is so important. So, I think having the conversation is the way to open the window to really allow women to feel comfortable with this and really encourage them that, you know, the safest place for them that may feel the safest may be their health care provider’s office, and just because their health care provider doesn’t bring it up doesn’t mean it’s not important. You have to empower yourself to bring the questions forward. And the only question I tell women that is a dumb question is the question you have and you don’t ask. There are no dumb questions when it comes to your health, when it comes to your vagina, when it comes to education. Ask those questions, get the conversation started.

Communicating and opening up about our health will benefit us and remove the stigma. Knowing our body and doing what we can to prevent and treat issues that are normal and part of life is important. Whatever you are going through, I can guarantee you are not alone. Talk to a friend, your family or a Dr today and start taking care of yourself.

RepHresh is available in pharmacies and stores across Canada and USA. See a full list of stores here.

I know we have all been in a situation where talking about our health was not easy. Hopefully conversations like this make it easier.

Giveaway

Giveaway time! RepHresh wants you to try it for yourself. They are offering one lucky Canadian reader a $50 gift card (retailer will be selected by client at time of sending)to try it for yourself. Enter the form below. Good luck!

This is a sponsored conversation, all opinions are my own 

Comments

  1. I learned that RePhresh offers 4 different products that can help prevent and/or manage women’s vaginal issues like recurrent yeast infections.

  2. I learned that Vaginal odor is often about pH balance, not bad hygiene.

  3. I learned that a healthy ph in the intimate area is very important and that it is important to use products to try and maintain that ph.

  4. wendy hutton says:

    I learned that there are many issues like PH balance, odor, urinary tract infections

  5. Jenny Major says:

    I learned about the Feminine Health Planner

  6. Joan G. says:

    I learned they make an Intimate Wash.

  7. Sandra McG says:

    I learned that 1 application of refresh gel lasts 3 days

  8. Sunshine G says:

    I learned that they have a tracking tool on their website.

  9. I learned that there is a comprehensive FAQ section on their website.

  10. Brenda Penton says:

    I learned that by maintaining a healthy vaginal pH, you can help reduce your risk of vaginal issues. I also learned that body soap has a very high alkaline level, way higher than that of a health vagina.

  11. I learned that women are much more likely to get Urinary Tract Infection (UTIs) than men as a result of a shorter urethra.

  12. Stephanie LaPlante says:

    I learned that Antibiotics are used to eliminate bad bacteria, and unfortunately, antibiotics also kill good bacteria.

  13. Janet M says:

    I learned that probiotics will balance yeast & bacteria to maintain feminine health.

  14. I learned that one pH trigger is the aging process as there’s a decrease in estrogen production, which can then also cause a decrease in healthy bacterial flora.

  15. I learned, as also in your interview, that it’s the PH level more often than yeast infection that itches.
    Also wondering, are those available in Canada, those stores are US that are listed.

  16. I learned that they are sold in most drug stores and come in capsule form. I haven’t noticed this at my drug store. Next time I shop I will look for it.

  17. joanne darrell says:

    I learned 5 percent of women have recurring yeast infections.

  18. Florence Cochrane says:

    RepHresh Gel is clinically shown to maintain healthy vaginal pH. .RepHresh is Odor Free and Scent Free.

  19. Julie F says:

    I learnt that antibiotics can kill good bacteria!

  20. Gillian Morgan says:

    I learnt that vaginal oduor is often caused by pH balance, not bad hygiene.

  21. I learned that those who need these products can find them nationwide at most drug and discount stores.

  22. I learned that RepHresh has no known interactions with other medications and there are no known side effects when used as directed according to medical studies done.

  23. Robyn Bellefleur says:

    I learned that just one application of Refresh gel lasts 3 days.

  24. ERIN MCSWEENEY says:

    I LEARNED THAT THEY HAVE A TRACKING TOOL ON THEIR WEBSITE

  25. i ike tthat they have a tracking tool on their website

  26. It’s so refreshing to see a woman’s vagina discussed openly. As you said, women all have them. And, at one time or another in our lives, we will all have questions or concerns related to our vaginal health. It’s time to openly discuss any vaginal issues, we have nothing to feel ashamed of and the more open and accepting we are…hopefully, the more open and accepting everyone will become.

    PS Great interview with Dr. Shapiro and Tina from RepHresh, very interesting and informative!

  27. binabugged says:

    IF YOU HAVE an imbalance, RepHresh Gel once every 3 days,so it doesn’t have to be a daily thing

  28. Mary Boudreau says:

    I learned that RepHresh is an over-the-counter product, no prescription required

  29. Vivian Dionne says:

    I learned that probiotics plays an important role in vaginal health

  30. I learned the importance of pH balance in the vaginal area and that odor is related to it.

  31. I learned you don’t need a prescription for the products which is handy.

  32. tjbugnet says:

    I learned that amenorrhea, irregular periods, or complete lack of periods, can be caused by many things, including stress, eating disorders, too much exercise, weight gain, weight loss, and birth defects.

  33. Jenness M says:

    I learned that you don’t need a perscription for rephresh.

  34. I love that the RepHresh Intimate Washes are gentle enough to use every day.

  35. Jennifer P. says:

    I learned that Vaginal pH can be maintained by using RepHresh Gel once every 3 days.

  36. caroline m. says:

    I discovered that there are probiotics specially developed to help balance feminine health :()

  37. Angela l says:

    I learned that The most common vaginal washes, for example, have a pH of 5.5!

  38. Marilyn Nawara says:

    I learned the Intimate Wash provides 24 odor protection

  39. You don’t need a prescription for their products.

  40. edmontonjb says:

    I learned that women are much more likely to get Urinary Tract Infection than men becasue we have shorter urethras.

    ~Jonnie

  41. I learned that they have a tracking tool on their website!

  42. Laurie P says:

    I love learning about new products! No prescription necessary is a bonus!

  43. I learned that they have some great FAQ’s on their page

  44. Laila I says:

    I learned that odours do NOT mean bad hygiene.

  45. Stephanie says:

    I learned that… Vaginal odor can be prevented by maintaining your healthy vaginal pH in its optimal range. Vaginal pH can be maintained by using RepHresh Gel once every 3 days, or when an imbalance is most likely to occur.

  46. SweetPanda says:

    I learned that Vaginal odor is generally caused by unbalanced feminine pH. Unbalanced vaginal pH can be triggered by menstruation, semen, douching, and even by using body soaps.

  47. butterflyamyc says:

    I learned that Bacterial Vaginosis and Yeast Infections cause distinct smells.

  48. I learned 5 percent of women have recurring yeast infections.

  49. Brenda Witherspoon-Bedard says:

    I learned that women are much more likely to get Urinary Tract Infection than men

  50. I learned the use of RepHresh will balance your pH and begin eliminating odor immediately after the first use.

  51. I learned that RepHresh should be used once every three days for best results.

  52. Travelbuds says:

    I learnt that the RepHresh™ intimate washes are pH-balanced and gentle for the intimate areas.

  53. I learned that PH imbalance can occur after your period

  54. Kevin B says:

    Probiotics will balance yeast & bacteria to maintain feminine health.

  55. I learned that 5 percent of women have recurring yeast infections.

  56. ivy pluchinsky says:

    I learned that 1 application of refresh gel lasts 3 days

  57. KellyPC says:

    5%of women have recurring yeast infections. yIkES!

  58. sarah alexis says:

    I never really thought about the importance of vaginal flora before!!!!

  59. Nicole Jubleew says:

    I learned that clinical studies show that RepHresh Pro-B begins working within 7 days. Continued daily use provides optimum benefits.

  60. I learned that they have a soothing wash that provides relief for up to 24 hours.

  61. Maritess S says:

    I learned that taking Probiotics helps in maintaining feminine hygiene by keeping the balance of yeast and bacteria.

  62. Linda Svarovsky says:

    Healthy ph is so important

  63. tammy ta says:

    I learned that vaginal odour is often caused by pH balance.

  64. Carol Denny says:

    I learned that 1 application of refresh gel lasts 3 days.

  65. I learned about intimate wash

  66. Debbie W says:

    I learned Fishy odor is a sign that you have elevated pH.

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