Obstetricians and gynecologists report that, much like medical students who believe they suffer the symptoms of every disease they study, more than two-thirds of their patients schedule urgent appointments because they have panicked about their reproductive health based on faulty information, rumors, or old-wives tales. They also emphasize that much of what women read about infections, pregnancy risks, and sexually transmitted diseases is, in the words of one New York doctor, “either exaggerated or just plain wrong.” Compounding and complicating the problem, fear and shame frequently interfere with women’s willingness to ask or complain about their most urgent concerns. After hearing millions of women refer to their reproductive and sexual organs in vague and abstract terms, trendy OB/gyns have begun introducing new, slightly more precise terms into their conversations with patients. For example, “the V-Zone” refers to a woman’s vulva and vagina, “about which most women are grossly mis-informed,” reports one primary care physician.
Urging women to become informed about proper care of the V-Zone, doctors emphasize a few little known facts which double as sources of extreme concern among sexually active women:
- A few little-known facts about birth control pills: Although they generally are good for your complexion and have a tendency to round-out your curves, birth control pills can reduce your sex drive. In women just as in men, testosterone governs their desire for sex; and, to the extent that the conjugated estrogens in birth control pills alter the balance and concentration of testosterone in a woman’s body, they may diminish desire. Doctors very strongly recommend that women whose sex lives deteriorate because of birth control pills either should change brands, change dosages, or change birth control methods.As they start oral contraceptives, many women experience serious side-effects, most notably nausea. Instead of giving-up oral contraceptives because of transient side-effects, women should insert their birth control pills vaginally, doctors say. In one long-term study, women who administered their birth control pills by vaginal insertion had significantly less nausea, breast tenderness, vertigo, period pain, nausea and stomach upset than women who took their pills orally.For women suffering recurrent problems with birth control pills, OB/gyns are prescribing intra-uterine devices (IUD’s). New technologies dramatically have increased the safety and effectiveness of IUD’s, and physicians point out that they represent by far the best method of birth control for married women who are not eager to have children.
- The benefits of orgasm: In the definitive study, clinical researchers found that one powerful orgasm has more sedative and pain-relieving effect than two Valium tablets. Further study confirmed researchers’ hypothesis that orgasm triggers huge surges of serotonin, dopamine, and nor-epinephrine, the body’s own feel-good chemicals. Ob/gyns actually recommend sexual activity to relieve symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome, and they similarly recommend sex for patients who suffer migraine headaches. In addition to relieving pain and stress with neuro-transmitters, doctors say, orgasms relieve migraines by dilating blood vessels and relieving pressure believed to cause migraine pain.
- Cotton underwear and new detergent: Without a blush, “pelvicpain.org” defines vaginitis as “inflammation of the vagina. It may be caused by fungus (yeast), bacteria, hormonal imbalance, chemical irritation/allergy or [other] conditions… It may cause itching, burning, discharge.” Vaginitis is by far the leading cause of women’s visits to their primary care physicians and OB/gyns. Researchers say that mom was right when she advised wearing cotton panties and using gentle detergents for your delicates. Moreover, she also was right about avoiding perfumed soaps, “feminine deodorant” sprays, and other fragrant cleansers in the V-Zone. Doctors stress, however, if changes of fabric and detergent do not bring significant relief, you should seek treatment for what is probably a more serious yeast infection.
- Do’s and don’ts of tampon use: During the 1980s, a wave of fatal cases of Toxic Shock Syndrome prompted the FDA to ban distribution and sale of super-absorbent tampons in the United States. A few European countries followed the Americans’ example, but “super” and “maxi” tampons remain on the market throughout Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Consequently, American physicians advise international travelers to carry their usual tampons with them when they venture overseas. They are quick to point out, however, the problem with super-absorbent tampons did not inhere in the product; instead TSS always resulted from women’s leaving their tampons in their bodies for extended periods of time.Some women have discovered they can use tampons to help control incontinence, because the tampon exerts just enough pressure on the urethra to control “leaks.” Doctors stress that the practice is safe for occasional use—particularly during exercise; but they insist you should remove the tampon as soon as possible, and you should not rely on “the tampon trick” as your principal remedy for bladder-control issues. They explain that a tampon inside a dry vagina causes significant irritation and typically causes small tears in the skin; those microscopic tears make the V-Zone vulnerable to serious infections.