Feminine Health Part 1: Uterine Fibroids, Period Products, Vaginal Odors & Washes
As a Holistic Health Coach I receive a ton of questions from women about their feminine health. I’ve decided to do a round-up of the 8 most requested questions I’ve gotten this year to shed light and demystify your vaginal and feminine health.
1. What are Uterine Fibroids and why do they seem to heavily affect women of color?
Uterine Fibroids are round benign tumors located in a woman's uterine or womb. They can appear as early as your 20’s and as late as your 50’s. Women of Color, specifically of African descent, tend to be 2-3 times more likely to have fibroids and at a much younger age. Two of the causes for this are family history as well as increased Estrogen levels. Depending on the size and how close the fibroids are to other organs it can cause symptoms such as pressure on the bladder or rectum as well as pelvic pain.
Surgical procedures such as hysterectomies and medical treatments are available and viable options but the right course of action depends on a variety of factors. Although we can't necessarily alter our genetic predisposition we can change certain aspects of our lifestyle to lower our risk.
A few ways to lower your estrogen levels are:
Exercising at least 60 minutes per day, 5 times per week you lower your estrogen levels by 19%.
Stay away from harmful and toxic skin-care products and opt for organic and non-toxic skin-care.
Eat organic produce, meat, and dairy whenever possible.
Sleep 7-8 hours per night and drink filtered water.
Use ceramic, glass or cast iron plates, pots or pans. Stay away from foods stored in plastic and metal cans.
2. We are now seeing evidence and articles revealing the harmful effects of traditional pads and tampons. Is there truth to these findings and what are healthier options?
Yes, tampons and pads can be harmful to your vaginal health. Tampon and pad manufacturers aren’t required to disclose ingredients because feminine hygiene products are considered “medical devices.”
Unfortunately for us, our vagina doesn't care whether the ingredients used to create tampons and pads- it simply absorbs all of the chemicals without prejudice. There's a video out there where an organic cotton pad and an Always pad are burned.
The cotton pad burns slowly leaving practically no residue behind while the Always pad burns black remaining in a thick residue which indicates the use of dioxins, synthetic fibers, and petrochemicals.
Conventional pads contain the equivalent amount of plastic of about 4 four plastic bags. This is despite evidence suggesting that plastic such as BPA and BPS
Disrupts embryonic development.
Linked to heart disease and cancer.
Phthalates, which give paper tampon applicators a smooth finish, are known to disrupt gene expression, and DEHP may lead to multiple organ damages.
Synthetics and plastic restrict air flow and trap heat and dampness, potentially promoting yeast and bacteria growth in your vaginal area.
Besides crude oil plastics, conventional sanitary pads can also contain other potentially hazardous ingredients, such as odor neutralizers and fragrances.
For more about my favorite period products, click here.
3. Why Does My Vagina Have An Odor?
Let’s make this clear- your vagina is supposed to have a scent despite what the media, tampon companies and your jerk may have said. Vaginas emit a variety of scents throughout the month depending on what phase of your menstrual cycle you’re on and your own personal scent.
Some of us have a stronger scent than others and that is perfectly normal! Sweating heavily and unprotected sex i.e. sperm can temporarily change the smell of your vagina.
It’s important to note that a drastic change in the scent can at times be a sign that your vaginal pH levels are off somehow. The best way to know if something is wrong such as bacterial vaginosis or a yeast infection is to get up, close and personal with your yoni! Get to know your natural scent when you're healthy and you'll know when something is off.
Be on the lookout for yeasty, fishy or rotten odors that are accompanied by other symptoms such as itching, swelling, discharge, or pain while urinating. They may mean something is wrong.
I also recommend
Switching to 100% cotton underwear to avoid future episodes.
Drinking lots of water.
Eating a diet rich in foods that are pro-yoni such as Greek yogurt, garlic, fermented foods, and berries.
4. Are vaginal washes safe? What parts are actually supposed to be washed?
The vagina is self-cleaning, ladies! This does not mean you do not shower, it means that feminine wipes, douches and other "feminine" soaps are at minimum unnecessary and at worst harmful to the delicate pH balance of your vagina.
What's worse is that the FDA doesn't require companies to meet FDA approval before they hit the shelves as they're considered cosmetic products. I am completely against douches in any shape or form because as I mentioned before your vagina cleans itself!
But if you need to freshen up with a feminine wipe be sure to use wipes that are glycerin, fragrance, and alcohol-free- all of which throw your pH balance completely out of whack. Use them as minimally as possible and only on the exterior of the vagina (never inside) as they do create unnecessary risk for yeast infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, and bacterial vaginosis.
Well there you have it ladies! The first 4 questions in my two party Feminine Health Series. If you’ve got any questions you’d like answered, please comment below!
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