By Lynn Okura
Your gynecologist has heard it all — so why do women so often shy away from talking about their sexual health? From yeast infections to HPV, three female gynecologists share in the above #OWNSHOW video the things they want all women to know about their bodies.
Beware Yeast Infection Risks
Dr. Michele Curtis says all women should be aware of the things that increase their chances of getting a yeast infection:
“If you take antibiotics, that’s going to change the normal bacterial balance, and that will increase the risk for a yeast infection,” Curtis says.
2. Hormonal Changes
“If you are in a state of hormonal changes, like pregnancy, or sometimes right before your period, that will increase your risk for yeast infection,” she says.
3. Damp Clothing
Think it’s OK to run some errands after hitting the gym? Curtis warns that wearing tight, sweaty workout clothing or a damp bathing suit for long periods of time will up your chances of getting a yeast infection.
Herpes Is More Common Than You Think
“30 to 40 percent of the population tests positive for herpes, even if they don’t know it,” says Dr. Lauren Streicher. “So it’s not something they should be ashamed of.”
Herpes can be contracted in the genitals or the mouth. “It used to be that Type 1 Herpes was always in the mouth and Type 2 Herpes was always in the genitals,” she says. “But because of oral sex, you can actually have either type of herpes, either place.”
The good news, Streicher says, is that there are excellent anti-viral medications that exist now to reduce symptoms and help prevent outbreaks.
IUDs Are ‘Very Effective’ at Preventing Pregnancy
“An IUD is a t-shaped piece of plastic that we insert into the uterus to provide very effective contraception for three, five, or 10 years,” Curtis says. “And there are two types of IUDs: one of them has a hormonal agent in it, the other does not — but they are both very effective at preventing pregnancy.”
Love Your Lady Parts
How you feel about your body is important — not only when it comes to intimacy, but your overall health.
“Body image is how we feel about our total bodies, whereas genital self-image is how we feel specifically about the vulva and the vagina,” Dr. Debby Herbenick says. “And in our research, what we found is that women who feel more positively about their vulva and their vagina actually are open to more experiences like self-pleasuring or masturbation, they’re more likely to enjoy receiving oral sex (which is more orgasmic for many woman), and they also tend to be better about going in for an annual gyn[ecologic] exam — so things that keep them healthy, as well.”
Condoms Do Not Prevent HPV
“I think of it as something that’s as common as a cold,” Streicher says of HPV, which stands for Human Papilloma Virus. “The difference is that it is sexually transmitted.”
However, that doesn’t mean intercourse is the only way to contract the virus. “It’s not something that’s in semen, it’s from direct contact,” she explains. “So even if someone isn’t having intercourse and even if they’re using a condom, they still may get HPV, just from that intimate contact.”
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