4 Must-Try Products That Will Benefit You Below The Belt
What you may want to consider stocking up on — especially if you're perimenopausal.
We, as women, spend so much time caring for our skin, hair, teeth, nails and overall physical health, and it’s not unusual for our daily routines to become more high-maintenance with age. We add collagen products to the mix to help fight the new wrinkles on our faces or we color our hair more often to conceal the grays, and don’t even get me started on the facial hair removal that midlife requires. But our vaginas?
Well, for many of us, we ignore them unless they scream for attention (think of the yeast infection that pop ups every time you take an antibiotic).
As it turns out, ignoring your vagina is perfectly OK — before menopause, that is! Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., clinical professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the Yale University School of Medicine, says, “Before menopause, most women do pretty well without much intervention; as long as they are feeling fine, their vaginas need very little special care. Of course, if you are feeling an irritation, itching or noticing an odor, you may be experiencing a vaginal infection which should be taken care of.”
Once menopause (or perimenopause) hits, however, women need to pay closer attention to their vaginal health, as a decline in estrogen results in vaginal dryness and changing bacteria and pH levels. While symptoms will appear to alert you that “Houston, we have a problem,” there are plenty things you can — and should — be doing to proactively ensure great vaginal health. With the help of Minkin, I have created a list of products that your vagina is sure to thank you for. Here are some things you may want to consider stocking up on.
Who knew they made probiotics specifically for the vagina? I stumbled upon these on Amazon and thought hell, yes as I clicked “add to cart.” Minkin shares the science behind why our vaginas need the good bacteria that these probiotics offer: “Premenopause, there are a lot of good-guy bacteria (lactobacilli) that live in the vagina. Postmenopause, the cells lining the vagina end up losing glycogen — which is what feeds the lactobacilli. So, the lactobacilli don’t thrive (and they make acid which keeps away the nastier bacteria).”
What does this mean? Well, it means we are more likely to get bacteria infections like vaginosis, and all I have to say to that is “No, thank you.” Taking probiotics is a great way to keep itching, burning and odor away and proactively ensure healthy bacteria levels for your vagina.
RepHresh Pro-B Probiotic ($39 for a one-month supply) is available at most pharmacies and balances yeast, bacteria and pH in the vagina. RenewLife ($45 for a two-month supply) is also available OTC and comes with a money-back guarantee.
If you get recurrent vaginal infections or simply want a fresh-smelling vagina, boric acid is for you. It balances vaginal acidity to healthy levels and is also an antiviral and antifungal that comes in suppository form. It can be used proactively to prevent infections or to treat a current infection. Many women report that regular use of boric acid has cured their recurrent yeast infections and leaves them feeling fresh and odor-free. While it is sold OTC, you should consult with your ob-gyn before using it to ensure you are using it safely and practicing safe sex. Many suggest not using it for 48 hours prior to sexual activity.
pH-D Feminine Health Boric Acid suppositories are available at CVS for about $18, or NewLife Naturals Boric Acid can be purchased on Amazon for about $10. Just be sure you remember to buy applicators, too!
I know most people hate the word moist, but we must use it when talking about postmenopausal vaginas. Minkin explains why: “When the vagina is dry from lack of estrogen, the bladder and urethra, which are attached to the vagina, also get dry — and the [bad] bacteria in the vagina can climb up into the bladder and set you up for a bladder infection.” Lucky us, right?
You can find Replens Vaginal Moisturizer, which provides up to three days of continual moisture, for under $15 at Walmart. Of course, there is also the issue of sexual discomfort when lubrication is lacking. Rest assured, there is a product for that, too. You can go for the traditional K-Y Jelly on shelves at your local pharmacy ($4.50) or a more sensual lubricant like Glissant by Karyn Eilber, M.D., who sells a sea-salt and caramel lubricant spray ($55) and a lubricant infused with CBD and CBG oils.
Sure, we all own a few thongs for those days we want to be panty line-free or surprise our partner on date night, but for day-to-day life it’s worth investing in some good quality, comfortable cotton underwear. The material that is used for most sexy underwear (lace, polyester, nylon) is synthetic and traps moisture and heat. Cotton is typically breathable and minimizes skin irritation and chaffing, both of which can contribute to unwanted infections.
Tommy John offers cotton undies (about $22 a pair) for every occasion — gym, date night, work, you name it. There even is an online underwear quiz to match you to the best style. The Innersy high-waisted cotton panties (from $21 for a five-pack) are available in bright colors and offer tummy control. And believe it or not, one of my favorite places to buy a great pair of cotton boy shorts is Walmart, because the price is right ($3+), the comfort is real and they stand the test of time.
Give these products a whirl and take notice of your vagina. Hopefully, it will be healthy, happy and odor-free for a long, long time. Happy bacteria-balancing, girlfriends!