Vaginas just can’t catch a break. They’re too droopy (according to plastic surgeons), too furry (according to waxing salons), too smelly (according to douching companies). And now, if a nurse in the UK named Mary Burke is to be believed, they’re destined to grow cold, dry and mildly frostbitten this winter.
“Dry … winter air depletes moisture from our bodies, leaving our skin dehydrated and cracked … [and] our vaginas can enter ‘drought mode’ during this time, too,” she told The Sun .
But wait! Don’t ask your great aunt to knit you a vagina cozy just yet. It turns out that winter V isn’t a real thing.
“[It’s not like] the bleak midwinter air is going to whip right up your pants, through your underwear, part your labia and head straight up your vag,” joked Jen Gunter, M.D., a Canadian-born ob-gyn who knows a thing or three about chilly air.
Unlike windows and rose bushes, vaginas don’t need to be winterized; they can maintain themselves through all seasons quite well, thankyouverymuch.
Still, there are a few vaginal health conditions that may become more prevalent in the cold wintry months. We asked Maria Sophocles, M.D., a board-certified ob-gyn, sexual-medicine specialist and medical director of Women’s Health Care of Princeton in New Jersey, what to look out for when winter storm warnings flare.
If you: Love bubble baths
Watch out for: Bacterial vaginosis
There’s nothing like slipping into a warm bath when the weather outside is frightful. But the fragrance found in many bubble baths can alter the pH balance of the vagina. In some women, this can allow the good bacteria in the vagina to get crowded out by unhealthy ones. When this happens, you can develop a condition called bacterial vaginosis (BV). Symptoms include a thin, white discharge and a fishy odor. BV-prone? Try fragrance-free products, or experiment with essential oils, which Sophocles says can help make the bath feel relaxing without disrupting your pH levels.
If you: Get a bad cold …
Watch out for: Vaginal dryness
Thanks to so much time spent indoors, your odds of catching a cold ratchet up in the winter. A head cold in and of itself has nothing to do with your vagina, but many cold medications — particular those designed to dry up runny noses — can have a drying effect on all mucous membranes through the body, include your V. It’s temporary, Sophocles points out. If you still want to have sex despite a medicine-worthy head cold, our hat is off to you. Lube can help.
If you’re one of those patients who begs your doctor for an antibiotic when you’re sick, you may want to rethink things. Not only are antibiotics powerless against viruses like the common cold (they work only with bacterial infections), but they also alter the vaginal flora, increasing your odds of developing an itchy yeast infection. Eating yogurt or kefir, or taking a probiotic, can help replenish your good bugs.
If you: Spend winter break having lots of sex
Watch out for: BV (again)
“The friction of a penis or condom moving in and out of the vagina can wipe away healthy bacteria,” Sophocles explains, allowing for an overgrowth of the unwanted kind. With cuffing season upon us, be sure to practice good post-sex hygiene, and be on the lookout for any BV symptoms. (The odor is usually a dead giveaway.) Fortunately, BV can be treated with a single dose of vaginal antibiotic gel. Women who seem to be especially BV-prone may want to try vaginal boric acid capsules, Sophocles says. Talk with your doc.
Everyone needs a girlfriend!
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