Meet Dr. Donnica Video Introduction TV Appearances

Diseases & Conditions Today on DrDonnica.com Clinical Trials Decisionnaires FAQs Top Tips Fast Facts Debunking Myths News Alerts Celebrity Speak Out Guest Experts Women's Health Champions Books Women's Health Resources

Mission Privacy Policy Sponsors Press Room What's New? Contact Us

This website is accredited by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. We comply with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.


Hope Award

Send to a Friend

Myths About Vaginal Health

Abundant myths, misperceptions and misinformation circulates as "common knowledge" when it comes to women's health. This is of such confusion and concern to women that ABC's popular morning show, "The View" asked Dr. Donnica to discuss this topic on air (10/15/04). Below is a summary of what Dr. Donnica had to say about debunking three of the more common myths about the vagina.

First, many women mistakenly think that any vaginal odor is a bad thing. This is FALSE. Most women have a "normal" vaginal odor which is not offensive and which varies during their monthly cycle. This can vary based upon personal hygiene, hormone levels, birth control pill use, recent intercourse, an imbalance of the normal vaginal bacteria and yeast, or with vaginal infections. How do you know if a vaginal odor is abnormal? If it is markedly different than usual or has a strong fishy smell, it could indicate an infection such as bacterial vaginosis or an STD called trichomoniasis. Foul odors may also indicate the presence of a foreign body such as a forgotten tampon.

Speaking of tampons, many women mistakenly--and unnecessarily--worry that it's possible to "lose" something in your vagina. This is FALSE. While many women have had difficulty removing objects they inserted into their vaginas (e.g. tampons, diaphragms, cervical sponge contraceptives, etc.), don't panic: it's not "lost". The vagina is a closed ended channel: while sperm can enter the cervix and blood can get out, nothing bigger can get from your vagina through your os, or the opening of your cervix. If you have difficulty removing something like a tampon, usually a change of position--and a dose of relaxation--will help. If worse comes to worse, your gynecologist or an ER doctor can help.

One of the concerns that women have when they have difficulty removing tampons is Toxic Shock Syndrome. Another common myth is that only tampons can cause Toxic Shock Syndrome. This is FALSE. Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is caused by toxin-producing strains of the common bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus. It is a systemic condition characterized by sudden onset of fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches and a rash which rapidly progresses to severely low blood pressure and ultimately, shock. This is such a rare condition that the last incidence data were collected by the CDC in 1987: in the United States, it affects two out of every 100,000 women 15-44 years of age. Of those, 1 in 20 cases (5%) are fatal. This condition got a tremendous amount of publicity in 1980 because it affected young menstruating women who were using a new brand of highly absorbent tampons for prolonged periods of time; these tampons are no longer available. But anyone can get TSS: 45% of cases are in men. Other risk factors include people with postoperative wound infections; people who have had nasal surgery or injuries requiring nasal packing; and kids who scratch skin infected with chicken pox. The bottom line is that concerns about TSS are no reason to avoid tampon use. Tampons should be changed every 4 to 8 hours during the day; they can be safely used overnight. Be sure to remove your last tampon at the end of a period! Be sure to remove your old tampon before inserting a new one.

For more myths about the female reproductive system, click here.

Created: 10/18/2004  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

All the content contained herein is copyrighted pursuant to federal law. Duplication or use without
the express written permission of DrDonnica.com subjects the violator to both civil & criminal penalties.
Copyright © 2006 DrDonnica.com. All rights reserved.

Home | Today on DrDonnica.com | Meet Dr. Donnica | TV Appearances | Clinical Trials
Diseases & Conditions | Decisionnaires | Celebrity Speak Out | Guest Experts | Women's Health Champions
FAQs | Women’s Health Resources | Archive | Books & Tapes | Site Certification | Advanced Search
Mission | What’s New? | Press Room | Privacy Policy | Sponsors | Partners | Contact Us