Over the last two decades, I have successfully performed numerous surgeries, aiding countless women in improving their well-being. However, it's important to stress that a seemingly trivial and often underestimated aspect of maintaining vaginal health is the cautious use of soap. The two should not mix.
The vagina has a naturally acidic environment and is not sterile. Within, there are beneficial, non-odor-producing bacteria, such as lactobacillus, which naturally inhabit the vaginal region. A healthy vagina maintains its cleanliness and doesn't present significant discharges.
Not long ago, a 42-year-old woman visited my clinic with concerns about frequent urination and urgency. A previous physician had prescribed Detrol®, which provided some relief, but excessive bathroom trips still plagued her. Intercourse had become painful, triggering an urgent need to empty her bladder.
This was straining her marital relationship and causing considerable anxiety. She had already sought the advice of three other doctors, and her condition remained disagreeable.
After meticulously reviewing her medical history, I conducted a thorough physical examination. I observed redness extending into the vagina and inquired if she used soap near or in her vaginal area during bathing.
"I do not use soap inside my vagina," she replied, "but I like to maintain good hygiene and use soap near it."
I explained to the patient that the redness and irritation in her vagina might be a result of soap usage, which could be the root cause of her urgency and frequent urination. I further elaborated that an irritated vagina can become overly sensitive and painful during sexual activity.
I emphasized that a healthy vagina is naturally acidic, self-cleaning, and home to "good bacteria," while soap, being alkaline, disrupts this natural equilibrium. It doesn't matter if the soap is hypoallergenic or fragrance-free, as soap, by nature, is alkaline, and a healthy vagina is acidic.
I recommended the patient wash only with water in the vaginal area and reserve soap for other parts of her body. I explained that I would like to run some tests regarding her urination issues but preferred to wait and assess her condition after discontinuing soap usage near her vagina.
A month later, the patient returned with promising results: "Well, you know, Doctor, it was challenging not to use soap near my vagina, but I'm so grateful I followed your guidance meticulously. I'm now cured and feeling better than ever.
"My husband initially had concerns about odors, but he now knows that's not the case, and he appreciates my newfound sensitivity. We enjoy a much happier sex life without pain or excessive discharge (1-4 ml per day is normal). I just wanted to express my gratitude and share my experience with all my girlfriends. By the way, my urgency and frequency of urination are completely gone."
The simple and prudent use of soap resolved the patient's problem.
Another 23-year-old patient visited my clinic, expressing a feeling of desperation and readiness to take drastic measures. She had consulted with more than seven physicians, the most recent of whom were from an academic center specializing in vaginal discharge.
She had undergone extensive testing and followed their treatment regimen diligently. However, her excessive discharge issue consistently returned within 1-2 weeks.
I asked her if she used any soap near or inside her vagina.
"Yes, of course I do. I want to be clean," she responded. "My mother taught me well, and I value cleanliness, but I still experience these unpleasant discharges and odors."
I explained the vagina's naturally occurring acidity and how alkaline soap disrupts the balance that nature has meticulously established. I asked the patient to cease using soap near or inside her vagina, to which she agreed.
I assured the patient that if she followed my instructions, she would be wholly cured and wouldn't need a follow-up visit.
A month later, the patient called to express her gratitude as she was cured. She had been so desperate that she followed my instructions meticulously.
She had never experienced such a discharge-free state and felt clean and immensely self-confident. These two anecdotal stories highlight how seemingly simple daily health practices can lead to significant health problems and how improper soap usage can result in urinary abnormalities and a painful vagina.
A solution as straightforward as using only fresh water for vaginal cleansing can alleviate discomfort, urgency, and frequent urination, while also making sexual experiences more enjoyable.
In medicine, sometimes the solution is uncomplicated, and a thorough analysis of a patient's medical history, coupled with a physical examination, can lead to a simple yet life-changing solution.
Of course, other underlying factors can contribute to urgency, frequent urination, and painful intercourse. If you have any concerns, please schedule an appointment for a comprehensive evaluation with your physician.