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Below the Belt: The Gynecology Secrets You Need to Know

Stymied by rumors and half-truths about how to take care of your V zone? See what experts have to say about the secrets of sexual health.

Secret # 5: It’s easier to contract an STD if you have sex during your period. continued...

Secret # 9: Intercourse won’t increase your risk of recurring yeast infection — but oral sex might.

Studies conducted at the University of Michigan Health System showed that men do not generally pass a yeast infection to a woman during intercourse. According to study author Barbara Reed, MD, MSPH, it appears that the risk for recurrent infections “is related to something else — perhaps the woman’s immune response to the yeast.”

Interestingly, however, the study, which looked at over 200 men and women, came to another rather surprising conclusion. Women who receive oral sex seem more likely to suffer from recurring vaginal yeast infections. This was the case whether their partner showed signs of yeast infection in their mouth or not.

“We’re not saying that oral sex is a problem for everyone, but if a woman is experiencing recurrent yeast infections, these activities put her at an increased risk,” Reed says. The CDC reports that up to 80% of women will have at least one yeast infection in their lifetime. A hormone imbalance, high blood sugar levels, certain antibiotics, birth control pills, or stress can also cause a yeast infection.

Secret # 10: That “urine-like” odor around your vulva may not be urine at all, but sweat — and there is something you can do about it.

Because secretions from sweat glands have some of the same components as urine, it’s common for some women who perspire a lot to experience a urine-like odor in the area of their vulva or even on their panties. But before you jump to the conclusion that you have an incontinence problem, Goldstein says try washing your V zone more frequently using a mild soap and water. Add a dusting of cornstarch-based powder to absorb moisture. Avoid nylon panties and panty hose, which tend to hold in heat and increase sweating. If the smell disappears then it was likely sweat and not urine. If it continues, talk to your doctor.

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Reviewed on September 15, 2008

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