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Are Your Lady Bits Healthy?

The A to Z of your sexual health

BY Amahle Melokuhle

Feb 11, 2021, 10:22 AM

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We admit that conversations on sex and sexual health are not always the easiest ones to have, which is why we're here. We're only too happy to ask the questions you might be too embarrassed to ask your sisters or friends.

YAZA picked the brains of HIV clinician and patient’s rights activist Dr Sindi van Zyl on questions about feminine hygiene, fertility and STIs. And she gave us the answers!
Dr Sindi van Zyl
HPV is the primary cause of cervical cancer in women, how can I protect myself against it?
"HPV is the primary cause of cervical cancer and unfortunately, there is no cure for it. In most events the virus eventually works itself out of the system. It is contracted both sexually and through contact."

What is bacterial vaginosis and how can I get it?
"Bacterial Vaginosis is the imbalance of the PH of the vagina. The vagina is self-cleaning and maintains its delicate PH naturally. As a result of this, anything that throws off the PH will result in BV. A distinct fishy smell and watery discharge are some of the tell-tale signs that you may have contracted it. Anything that throws off the PH balance from condomless sexual intercourse with a new partner through to so-called 'intimate washes' is what causes it to occur."

Will using oral contraceptives negatively affect my chance at becoming pregnat?
"It shouldn’t. Once you stop using contraception we can expect fertility to return within six months. If not, then you need to consult a doctor." 
Would you advise women to switch between different contraceptives at different stages in their lives?
"A woman must choose the contraceptive method that works best for her life. It's individualised according to your needs and lifestyle."
What are the most common causes of vaginal infections? 
"The most common cause is the use of so-called 'intimate washes'. The vagina cleans itself and it’s important for everyone to understand and accept this. We don’t want women to be inserting anything into their vaginas unless it has been prescribed by a doctor or a nurse."
Outside of period pains what are other things that could be causing pelvic cramps?
"Infection or any pelvic pathology can cause pelvic cramps. It’s important to see a doctor or nurse clinician if you are experiencing pelvic cramps."
Outside of shaving what is the cause of vaginal pimples and how do you get rid of them?
"Ingrown hairs are indeed a problem for many women. I always advise women to stop shaving for a few weeks. Once the hair has grown back you can choose a different method of hair removal. Waxing works for some while others prefer to trim. The use of a shaving stick however is not encouraged because there is a higher chance of ingrown hairs. Other pimples could be related to infection - seek more medical advice if you suspect that this is the case."

Is there anything one can do to aid fertility and remain fertile as they grow older?
"The ageing of one’s eggs is natural. We can’t stop that process, unfortunately. If one is concerned, I’d recommend the egg freezing process."