Suzi's Sexy Secrets: Navigating the Feminine Care Aisle
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Suzi’s Sexy Secrets: Navigating the Feminine Care Aisle

Finding your way through the fem care aisle doesn’t have to be a nightmare!

-Suzi Kirsh

Confused woman

Finding your way through the complex fem care aisle and its overwhelming array of items is no walk in the park. From feminine cleansers, powders, wipes, washes, gels, deodorants, tampons, and lubes to moisturizers, suppositories, home pregnancy tests, ovulation kits, prebiotics, probiotics and pH tests– Well, just try saying all that ten times fast! With every item making a different claim about feminine health, it’s no wonder that we’re so confused about trying to figure out what’s good and what’s not. Wouldn’t it be nice to get a cheat sheet or some good solid advice to help out?

Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, OB/GYN and professor at Yale University, suggests, “Understanding the medical properties of the product available for sale is vital to getting the over-the-counter care you need.” Dr. Minkin offers the following advice.

Lubricants and Moisturizers:

First, what’s the difference between a lubricant and a moisturizer? Did you even know there was one? Well, there is, and it’s important.

Lubricants like K-Y and Astroglide are primarily used for intimacy and can provide a good but temporary source of lubrication. According to Dr. Minkin, “Itching, burning and soreness usually describe chronic vaginal dryness which can occur after you’ve had a baby, during peri-menopause, when taking estrogen depleting drugs for cancer or diabetes, or during or after menopause. If left untreated, it can lead to more serious problems such as urinary discomfort, bladder infections, and painful intercourse.” Definitely not okay!

On the other hand, a good long-lasting vaginal moisturizer like Replens has clinically-studied active ingredients and can provide soothing relief, keeping your “sexy time” spontaneous and exciting. Be careful to avoid “double ganger” brands that make the long-lasting claim, but which don’t contain the active ingredients needed to actually meet your expectations. Moisturizers that contain polycarbophil, an ingredient that coats and soothes dry vaginal cells, are good choices.

Be sure to check out silicone lubes, too. They are available online, and although they’re more expensive than the water-based lubricants you get at the drug store, they are much less messy and last far longer. You’ll love them.

Read Suzi’s Sexy Secrets: What Don’t You Know About Your Period?

Feminine Washes, Sprays and Powders:

Gentle feminine washes and wipes can help clean sensitive areas without the irritation that can result from overly harsh conventional soaps. “The most toxic soaps that women can use are Irish Spring and Ivory on sensitive areas,” says Dr. Minkin. “The safest and most gentle soaps for feminine hygiene are White Dove and Neutrogena.”

If the odor down there bothers you, you can mask it with feminine sprays– but be aware that the fragrances used in such sprays can often irritate sensitive tissue, causing allergic reactions and stinging (OUCH!). Just wash daily with gentle soap to stay clean.

Like feminine sprays, feminine powders attempt to neutralize odor by masking scent. Watch out, though: “A powder may even cause a low-grade fungal infection,” says Dr. Minkin. When it comes to the vagina, we must keep in mind that this area is home to the most sensitive skin on our bodies. No need to overdo it, girls; a little bit goes a long way!

Some women can suffer from perineal odor caused by the oils in sweat gland secretions. If you feel like you need to use a powder to deal with sweat, Dr. Minkin recommends a non-perfume powder. Even plain old corn starch should do the trick.

Here’s a little food for thought: Certain fatty foods like meat and pungent or spicy foods can have odorous oils that can be secreted in sweat. So the next time you want to indulge in an oversized platter of fajitas or the Indian buffet, remember: the more fat we ingest, the more oil—and the more odor—we secrete.

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