Health medical editor Dr. Roshini Raj answers all of your embarrassing questions about your private parts.
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Is it OK to use scented body wash on my private parts?
Nope. The rest of your body may be very happy smelling like passion-fruit-verbena-berry raindrops, but the delicate skin in your genital area can’t take it.
Much like douches, scented bath products contain chemicals that can be irritating to the urethra and vagina and can increase your risk of urinary tract and yeast infections. Stick to plain, unscented soap and water, and wash the outer part of the vulva only.
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Can yogurt cure a yeast infection if I put it "inside"?
While yeast is naturally present in your vagina (in the form of the fungus Candida albicans), an overgrowth of it is a problem and needs to be treated. If you notice a change in the color, amount, or odor of your vaginal discharge, or if you have increased vaginal itching or irritation, contact your gynecologist before reaching for the yogurt tub. Only she can diagnose a yeast infection and prescribe an antifungal medication (some can be purchased over-the-counter), which is the preferred treatment.
There’s no solid evidence that eating yogurt can prevent yeast infections. However, if you need temporary relief from itching and irritation while you’re waiting for an infection to be diagnosed or for the meds to take effect, it can’t hurt to try a little of the plain variety; just dab it on a tampon to insert.
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I’ve had several yeast infections recently. Is my diet to blame?
A food trigger might sound reasonable, but this down-there issue has no connection to your meal choices. If you’re having sex with the same partner, there are other factors to consider.
Too-tight or noncotton underwear can create a breeding ground for yeast, as can harsh cleansers. (Try a mild, pH-neutral soap like Dove.) And some medications, including antibiotics and birth control pills, can disrupt the balance of bacteria. Talk to your doctor about other alternatives or look for a probiotic to help counteract the antibiotics.
A note about over-the-counter yeast-infection treatments: Studies show that a seven-day course may be more effective than a three-day. Whatever you choose, see a doc if the infection keeps coming back.
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Does pubic hair have a point?
It certainly does. Pubic hair acts as a buffer, preventing chafing of the delicate skin around your vagina when your partner is rubbing against you during sex. So if you wax it all off, you’ll be more susceptible to irritation down there.
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Should I treat a bug bite any differently if it's in my pubic area?
No need to treat it any differently. A cold pack can reduce minor swelling, and calamine lotion or an antihistamine pill will decrease itching or soreness.
Do keep in mind that a number of sexually transmitted diseases, such as herpes and genital warts, can look like insect bites. If the bite doesn’t clear up in a few days, or if you notice any discharge or change in color, see your doctor to rule out an STD. In the meantime, avoid sexual intercourse.
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I keep getting yeast infections. Could my Spanx be to blame?
Much as I hate to say anything bad about my beloved Spanx, the body shapers could be contributing to your problem. We all have some vaginal yeast, but when that yeast multiplies, it becomes a problem. What makes it spread like crazy? A warm, damp crotch, for one. So when you wear underwear or body-shaping apparel like Spanx that is tight and made of a nonbreathable synthetic fabric, you’re setting the stage for overgrowth.
Spanx are hard to quit, for sure. You don’t have to go cold turkey. Just save your slimmers for short-term use and special occasions.
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I have a pimple in my groin area. Should I be worried?
If it’s just one bump, it could be a cyst caused by a blocked sweat gland or pore. It could also be a hair follicle that’s inflamed by a bacterial infection (don’t freak outthese aren’t sexually transmitted) or clogged by dead skin or other debris.
The good news is, the pimple should go away on its own in a few days. Until then, ease any pain by applying a warm compress twice a day. If it still hurts after that or doesn’t clear within a week, or if more than one bump appears at a time, see your gyno to rule out other causes, such as herpes and human papillomavirus (HPV).
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Can that paper crotch guard in bathing suits prevent disease from spreading?
You're on to something here: it can't. The paper just protects the garment from getting stained. It doesn't protect you from nasty infections or pubic lice.
So you must always wear your underwear when trying on a bathing suit-it's lumpy, yes, but necessary. And once you find your perfect suit, wash it in warm or even hot water before wearing it.
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