True or False?

Below are some common questions we get as well as some myths we have heard… test your own knowledge on these concepts! The answers are provided below.

True or False?

  1. Using douches and scented products inside my vagina is completely safe and healthy.
  2. Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can lead to infertility (not being able to have children).
  3. It’s not possible to get pregnant before your first period.
  4. Peeing after sex reduces the chance of getting an STI or a urinary tract/bladder infection.
  5. You can’t pee if you have a tampon in.
  6. It is unhealthy to bathe or swim while on my period.
  7. If a boy or girl gets an STI, their partner will definitely be able to tell.
  8. If a girl is on birth control pills, she doesn’t have to keep using condoms during sex.
  9. A girl can get pregnant even if her partner does not ejaculate or “come” inside her.
  10. If someone gets an STI once, they can not get it again.
  11. It’s impossible to get pregnant if I have sex in water (pool, hot tub).
  12. Shaving keeps my vagina clean.

Answers:

  1. Using douches and scented products inside my vagina is completely safe and healthy. – False
  2. Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can lead to infertility (not being able to have children). – True
  3. It’s not possible to get pregnant before your first period. – False. You can get pregnant before your first period since ovulation occurs before menstruation.
  4. Peeing after sex reduces the chance of getting an STI or a urinary tract/bladder infection. – False
  5. You can’t pee if you have a tampon in. – False
  6. It is unhealthy to bathe or swim while on my period. – False
  7. If a boy or girl gets an STI, their partner will definitely be able to tell. – False.
  8. If a girl is on birth control pills, she doesn’t have to keep using condoms during sex. – False
  9. A girl can get pregnant even if her partner does not ejaculate or “come” inside her. – True
  10. If someone gets an STI once, they can not get it again. – False
  11. It’s impossible to get pregnant if I have sex in water (pool, hot tub). – False
  12. Shaving keeps my vagina clean. – False

Contraception

Contraception essentially is a method to prevent pregnancy; and there are different types of contraception. Besides preventing pregnancy, many women are on contraception to help regulate their periods and/or reduce menstrual symptoms. So which one is the best to use? Honestly, that is a personal preference, so it is good to do your research and find out which one works best for your lifestyle. Your doctor is a great resource to ask, so don’t feel afraid to talk to him/her about it during your next visit if you are interested! In the meantime, here is some information about the most popular types.

Birth control pills (also called oral contraception pills or OCPs): When most people think of birth control, they think of the pills. With this form, you must take a small pill once a day around the same time. Most pills contain estrogen and progestin, two hormones that are naturally made in the body. With birth control pills, the hormones in the pill prevent ovulation. So what are the downsides to the pill? You have to remember to take it every day. Some women like to set alarms on their phones to help them remember every day.

Nuvaring: This is a bendable plastic ring that is inserted into the vagina and kept there for 3 weeks, then removed to allow for a period for one week. This ring also contains hormones so it works like the pills. Again, you have to remember to leave the ring in for 3 weeks and then take it out for 1 week to have a period. Also, use a new ring every month; reusing the same Nuvaring makes it less effective.

Depo-Provera shot: This form of contraception is a shot you get at the doctor’s office about every 12 weeks/3 months. It contains the hormone progestin, which prevents ovulation but also thickens cervical mucus; both methods that help prevent pregnancy. The big downside that women report with the shot is weight gain; the shot increases your appetite and makes you want to eat.

Intrauterine device (IUD): This is a small T-shaped device that is inserted into your uterus at the doctor’s office. It is called a long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) because the IUD is effective against pregnancy for 3-10 years (depending on what IUD you receive). While many women report initial pain when having the IUD inserted into the uterus, many women rave about it because it is essentially a “set it and forget it” form of contraception. There’s nothing to remember once it is inserted, and you have a very effective form of contraception for years.

Nexplanon: This is also a LARC that is a small plastic rod inserted into your upper arm in the doctor’s office. As a LARC, it is also a “set it and forget it” kind of contraception that is good for up to 3 years. Many women can feel the device in their arm, but it doesn’t bother them! A side effect some women report is small unexpected bleeding.

Condoms: With all these other forms of contraception, something to keep in mind is that they DO NOT protect against STDs. Condoms must be used to protect against STDs. Repeat, condoms are the only form of contraception that prevents against STDs!

Abstinence: This is the only 100% method effective against pregnancy. The best way to not get pregnant is to not have sex.

HPV and the Gardasil Vaccine

What is HPV?
HPV stands for Human papillomavirus. It is currently the most common STI with around 80 million Americans infected. It can cause genital warts and later on, can cause cervical cancer. Some people may not have symptoms, so you may not know if your partner or even yourself has it!

What can I do to prevent or look out for HPV?
1. Ask your doctor if you have gotten the GARDASIL vaccine.
It is given to girls and boys ages 9-26. The Gardasil9 protects against 9 types of HPV! It is typically a 2 or 3 shot series and started around ages 11 or 12. Just think, if you prevent HPV in the first place, you can protect yourself against a type of cancer!
2. The pap smear during your well woman visits (OBGYN) can tell if HPV is present.
Starting at age 21, all women are screened for HPV and cervical cancer through a pap smear. This test takes a look at the cells in your cervix and can detect infection or cancerous changes.

Sexually Transmitted Infections – What You Should Know

Below is some information on a couple different STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections). It is important to know that some of these can be treated while some cannot. Both can have devastating effects. Some STIs can lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease and result in infertility. It is important to care for yourself now so that you can also be healthy for your future!

How can you protect yourself?
– Safe practices: use a condom or practice abstinence
– Know your partner and ask about their STI history

Feminine Hygiene – The “Eeew” Topic

Now that we’ve spent some time talking about female anatomy, we can talk about some (more) slightly uncomfortable, yet very important topics involving hygiene. For instance, taking into account your anatomy, you know the urethra is at the front of your pelvic area, whereas the anus is at the back. This is why it is so important to wipe front to back in order to avoid spreading bacteria and causing a urinary tract infection. Some related myths you may have debunked since learning more about your anatomy is that you cannot pee with a tampon in. This is false. Your tampon is inserted into the vagina, a second opening behind your urethra, where you pee from. Also, there is a myth that peeing after sex prevents UTIs. This has never been proven. If you think about it, these are, again, two different areas – the urethra and the vagina.

Some other common questions many young women have:
Should I shave in that area?
– Shaving can actually do more harm than good. Shaving can cause ingrown hairs and even infections. Instead, think about trimming. The hair provides a natural protection barrier against bacteria and is beneficial!
Doesn’t douching keep my vagina cleaner?
– Actually, douching isn’t recommended because it can change the pH of your vagina. The pH of your vagina is necessary for the “good” bacteria that lives there. This “good” bacteria prevents overgrowth of “bad” bacteria that can cause infections. When you douche, you are actually cleaning out protective bacteria and increasing your risk for infection! Your vagina naturally cleans itself! You should also avoid using scented soaps in that area, as they can also change the pH. Some people are even sensitive to the scents and can end up with a rash and irritation.
Is it better to use pads or tampons?
– It really is your preference. You can use whatever is more comfortable for you. Just remember, you need to change pads/tampons frequently depending on your flow. As a general rule, try to change them at least every 4 hours. Avoid super-high-absorbency tampons if possible and use the lowest absorbency that meets your needs. Give your body a break from tampons and use a heavy absorbent pad at night or try and use pads on your lightest days.

Any other questions? Feel free to contact us by email at wellgirlstl@gmail.com and we will try our best to get back to you!

The Female Reproductive System – What does it all mean?

The female reproductive system is responsible for multiple functions like having monthly periods, becoming pregnant and having children, and even having those period-related chocolate cravings and mood swings. The external reproductive system (which includes all the visible aspects) includes the major labia, minor labia, vagina, and clitoris. Also remember there is a separate opening in which you urinate called the urethra; this is different from the vagina. Therefore, you can wear a tampon and also have the ability to urinate/pee because the “pee hole” and the “tampon hole” are two separate things. The internal reproductive system (which includes all the invisible aspects) includes the uterus, fallopian tubes, and the ovaries. These organs are important for regulating your periods every month. In addition, when women become pregnant, the baby grows inside the uterus.
So how does a period actually work? It all has to do with our female reproductive system that works through a monthly cycle. At the beginning of the cycle, women bleed/menstruate because the lining of the uterus (called the endometrium) sheds. Then, thanks to the hormone estrogen, the lining of the uterus starts to grow again over the next couple of weeks after the period.  About 2 weeks after the period, there is an ovulatory phase; this essentially means the ovaries release an egg that travels to the uterus. It is at this time that there comes a crossroads. If sperm is present, the egg and sperm will fertilize to make an embryo which eventually becomes a fetus and pregnancy occurs. If there is no sperm, the body goes through a phase in which another hormone, called progesterone, takes over. This phase, the luteal phase, is where women get prementrual syndrome aka PMS aka when women can tell their period is about to happen. Symptoms like moodiness, food cravings, and breast tenderness occur; and at this point, most women know that Aunt Flow is about to make her monthly visit. The cycle then starts all over again when women have a period once again. Overall, women’s menstrual cycles last from 21-35 days, so don’t be alarmed if your periods aren’t exactly every 4 weeks. Everyone’s body is different, and if your period comes after 3.5 weeks or 5 weeks, don’t sweat it!