A Very Important Barometer of Women’s Health: Delicate Zone
Under the hot and humid weather, lots of women came to the clinic because of vaginitis. Symptoms of vaginitis are usually pain and unpleasant odor. Besides of these symptoms, vaginitis might cause problems at bladder and pelvis as well.
Nevertheless the importance of vagina, according to a survey, most women do not take care of their vagina enough. Hankook Research questioned 1,000 women aged from 20 – 59 living in 5 major cities in Korea--Seoul, Daejeon, Daegu, Busan and Kwangju—about how do they care for their intimate area.
96.8% of the respondents agreed that intimate zone was the most sensitive area of their body. However, only 16.4% of the respondents buy feminine care products or get some advice from professionals for their intimate zone. This rate is much lower than the rate people take care of their feet. Respondents answered that ‘they do not well know how to take care of their intimate area(48.7%)’, ’they do not feel any necessity of caring for their intimate area(36.8%)’, ‘They have never experienced any discomforts of their intimate area(65.1%)’.
Vagina, a Symbol of Femininity and a Reproductive Organ
Women’s vagina is composed of muscles and membrane. Menstrual fluid as well as a baby comes out through vagina. Also, vagina is the first place of conception.
Healthy vagina should be maintained sub-acid(pH 3.8~4.5) to prevent any harmful germs from outside. Sub-acidity of vagina can be kept by lactobacillus which produce lactic acid. Vagina fluid makes vagina moist. Vaginal discharge is constantly produced by the cells of vagina and cervix. The composition, amount and quality of discharge varies between individuals as well as through the various stages of sexual and reproductive development.
One of the Most Common Stress Factors of Women: Unhealthy Vagina
Vagina can do its role when it is maintained pH balanced(sub-acid) and moist. However, when these two conditions are not kept well, vaginitis might occur.
Prof. Seungho Lee(Obstetrics and Gynecology) at Gil Medical Centre of Gachon Univ. said, “Pain and unpleasant odor due to bacterial vaginosis degrade the quality of life. Also, bacterial vaginosis might cause other illnesses.” He also added that many women having vaginitis are under stress regarding themselves as ‘unclean’. Some women even criticize themselves for their lack of cleanliness about ‘unwanted’ vaginitis.
Half of Vaginitis Are Bacterial Vaginosis due to Lack of Lactobacillus
Vaginitis is one of the most common reasons women come to women’s clinic. Vaginitis cannot be neglected because it might be followed by bladder infection as well as pelvic inflammatory. Especially for pregnant women, vaginitis might be accompanied by PROM (Preterm premature rupture of membranes) as well as preterm labor and delivery.
It is widely known that 40% of women ever have bacterial vaginosis in their life time. Half of the 40% of women do not have any particular symptoms of vaginitis. Lack of lactobacillus results in bacterial vaginosis with the increase of anaerobe (an organism that does not require oxygen for respiration).
Normally, anaerobe should be less than 1% of the total number of resident bacteria of women’s vagina. However, when bacterial vaginosis happens, the number of anaerobe proliferates by 100 ~ 1,000 times. The reason of the frequent recurrence of bacterial vaginosis is based on the difficulty of re-inhabitation of the beneficial bacteria, lactobacillus.
Preserving a Healthy Vaginal Environment Is Crucial
To prevent vaginitis, maintaining pH balanced and keeping the delicate zone clean is important. Prof. Lee emphasized that ‘washing women’s intimate area with a normal soap should be avoided’. He also mentioned that “instead of using a normal soap, using pH balanced feminine care products 2~3 times a week is highly recommended.” A normal soap is an alkaline product with pH 9. If vaginal discharge has odor or color, medical check-up has to been done as soon as possible.
With the increasing interests in vaginal health, more and more new feminine care products are appearing in the market. Mr. Jongwon Lee, director of R&D center of wettrust(wettrust Co., Ltd.) pointed out, “Choosing feminine care products with lactic acid is very important to keep pH balance of women’s intimate area.” He also added that “there is an optimized product for vaginal care in the market.” The product Mr. Lee recommended is an individually wrapped disposable applicator type feminine care product for hygienic use.
Furthermore, less visit to a public bath or sauna as well as wearing cotton underwear are helpful for vaginal health.