November 1, 2015

Vaginal Health

Did you know there are types of bacteria that are necessary for good vaginal health? These friendly little warriors prevent harmful bacteria strains and fungi from invading. When the good bacteria are overwhelmed, you may be diagnosed with a bacterial or yeast infection. Having an infection also decreases your defenses against STDs i

Here are 7 tips for keeping the balance:

1.  No douching.  We mean it, ladies. Douching is a thing of the past. When cleansers are used on the vaginal canal, this can wash out the beneficial bacteria and pave the way for bad ones to move in. It may mask the odor of an existing infection, but it will not treat it and may make it worseii.

2. Keep things dry and cool. Wearing underwear made with materials, like cotton, that promote air circulation and changing out of sweaty/wet clothing or swimsuits promptly can make a big difference. Avoiding excessively tight clothing can help keep things cool as well.

3. Probiotics.
These provide reinforcements for the good bacteria in our bodies. Taking probiotics helps prevent infection and can aid in the treatment of an existing infection iii. Certain strains are specific to vaginal health. Probiotics containing the bacteria Lactobacillus have been found most helpful.

4.  Only use pads and tampons when necessary and switch out every few hours. Pads and tampons interfere with air flow and promote warmer damper environments which yeast and harmful bacteria thrive in. Tampons absorb not only menstrual blood, but the natural lubrication and flora of the vaginal walls as well. Excessive use of tampons can also cause tiny scratches on the walls of the vagina which can cause infections.

5.  Wipe from front to back. When cleaning up after a bowel movement it is important to avoid introducing bacteria from fecal matter into the vagina. 

6. Avoid perfumed soaps. Perfumed products often contain strong chemicals that  can irritate your most sensitive areas and change the pH of the vagina.

7. Practice safe sex. Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) can be passed back and forth between sexual partners. It is not considered an STD, as it can be acquired without sexual means, but once exposed, men can be carriers of this bacteria and will not exhibit symptoms. Even if you have been treated for it you can be re-infected by your partner if he is not treated as well.

iKenyon C, Colebunders R, Crucitti T. The global epidemiology of bacterial vaginosis: a systematic review. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2013; 209(6):505-523.

iiA.B. Onderdonk, M.L. Delaney, P.L. Hinkson, et al. Quantitative and qualitative effects of douche preparations on vaginal microflora Obstet Gynecol, 80 (1992), p. 333
iii4. Reid, G. & J. Burton. 2002. Use of Lactobacillus to prevent infection by pathogenic bacteria. Microbes Infect., 4: 319-324.


By now most people have heard of intrauterine devices for contraception. These are more commonly known as IUDs. This form of birth control is for women who want long term birth control, but the option for reversal in the future. 

These little "t-shaped" devices fit within the uterus and interfere with sperm movement to prevent fertilization. In addition, some varieties of IUDs emit low doses of hormones. We offer the Mirena, Paraguard, and Skyla IUD's at our office at this time. It is always necessary to have a consultation with your doctor to ultimately determine which one will be best for your needs, but when considering your contraceptive choices, IUD and otherwise, an excellent source of reference can be found at  This website provides a simple breakdown of the contraceptive types, the ways they work, and generally expected costs. 

Fun Facts:

The Ebers Papyrus, a medical document written over 3500 years ago, lists a recipe for a vaginal suppository that Egyptian women used to prevent pregnancy. It actually worked! One of the ingredients, fermented acacia, does act as a spermicide!

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In 1847, Elizabeth Blackwell applied to medical school  at what is now Ho bart College. Perturbed, the faculty determined that if all the 150 male medical students voted unanimously to accept her she would be allowed. 

Thinking it was all a great joke, as a prank, each man voted yes! Graduating at the head of her class, she became the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States.

Mary C Kirk, MD, PLLC
6465 South Yale, Ste 605
Tulsa, OK  74136