Everything You Wanted to Know About Your Vagina But Were Afraid to Ask - BRANWYN | Performance Innerwear

Everything You Wanted to Know About Your Vagina But Were Afraid to Ask

There’s no such thing as TMI as we take a look under the hood with Kameelah Phillips, MD.
Who Makes My Innerwear? Reading Everything You Wanted to Know About Your Vagina But Were Afraid to Ask 7 minutes Next Barrier-Breaking Women You Should Know

Powerful, live-giving, pleasure-centered, shape-shifting, unique — our vaginas are amazing. However, there’s a lot of misinformation swirling around women’s private parts. For one, the mistaken idea that they need to look or smell a certain way. 

“We have an overwhelming cultural obsession with making our vaginas smell good. It's supposed to smell like a body part!” says Kameelah Phillips, MD, board-certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist and founder of Calla Women’s Health in New York City. “I see and smell 20-plus vaginas a day. They're all a little different. Be nice to your body and your natural pheromones. That's how we attract. We're animals.”

Myth and shame sure do surrounding our intimate areas can make it hard to navigate what’s normal and what’s not. That’s why we asked our amazing BRANWYN community for lingering questions they’ve been uncomfortable asking. Dr. Phillips lent her expertise and knowledge to help set the record straight… 



What to do About Underwear?

My discharge seems to be eroding my underwear. Is this normal? 

Dr. Phillips: A normal healthy vagina is anywhere from 4 to 5 PH which is on the acidic side, which can definitely cause small holes in the underwear. It doesn't mean there's anything wrong with the vagina. I encourage women to embrace their vaginal discharge. 


Do you have any recommendations for discharge stains? 

Dr. Phillips: I think that we can be really preoccupied about our drawers. They are there to catch our bodily fluids and discharge, so over time it is natural that they become stained with blood or discharge. It’s just normal wear and tear and that's not something to hide or be ashamed of. 

From BRANWYN: If menstrual blood stains bother you, opting for darker colored underwear during your period is an option!



Working Out and Down-There Care 

Is there a good way to avoid sweat in the crotch area?

Dr. Phillips: I'm really in the spirit of normalizing vulva sweat. If you're working out, there are just parts of your body that are going to sweat and that's your vulva, your inner thighs, your armpits, the rolls on your back. We are animals and we sweat. I don't think you can avoid crotch sweat if you're going to work out. I just recommend changing clothes as soon as possible after to avoid irritation or infection.


Every time I start running or working out more, I get a yeast infection. How can I prevent that?

Dr. Phillips: I just recommend getting out of wet underwear and clothing as quickly as possible and not sitting in them. 

From BRANWYN: Research has shown that underwear made from synthetic fabrics carries a higher risk of yeast infection. Read more about how Merino wool can help keep you dry here


I’ve been getting into cycling but it hurts my vagina after a while. What should I do? 

Dr. Phillips: I would go get a better bike seat and I don't say that flippantly. If you're sitting on a seat that is compressing your ischial spine, you can actually get nerve damage. It's important to have a proper well-fitting bike seat. I would go to a bike store and figure out what is most effective for your comfort.

From BRANWYN: Cycling shorts with a proper chamois (shock-absorbing pad) can make a huge difference. Find a list of women-owned bike shops here


How can I avoid “vagina farting” during yoga? 

Dr. Phillips: It happens to a lot of people! I would just be really light-hearted about it. If it happens a lot, it might indicate that you have some pelvic floor laxity. I would consult with your GYN and a pelvic-floor specialist to see if you could use some pelvic-floor strength. 


I chafe so much down there when I hike. What can I do about that?

Dr. Phillips: This type of chaffing is caused by your thigh rubbing against your labia. You 100-percent be wearing some biker shorts under your clothes to prevent your thighs from rubbing. Some of my patients use anti-chafing sticks on their thighs to decrease friction as well. You should not put this type of product on your vulva.



Vaginal Care in the Outdoors 

What is the best way to avoid vaginal infections in the backcountry? 

Dr. Phillips: Just use your typical vaginal hygiene! When you pee outside, make sure you’re wiping from the front to back. You might not get to take a shower, but just clean with water or a water-based wipe and make sure you’re not using anything that’s overly scented or perfumed. 

From BRANWYN: Merino wool can be your vagina’s backcountry best friend thanks to natural antimicrobial and moisture management properties. Plus, they are easy to wash and hang dry! 


What's the best way to manage tampon strings while mountain biking? 

Dr. Phillips: I would just push them in your vagina a little bit, so they're not hanging out and bothering you. You should be able to find it. It's not often that tampons truly get lost.  

I'm going camping on my period. What's the best way to pack out period products?

Dr. Phillips: It depends on how long you’re going and if you're comfortable with using a menstrual cup. I would recommend a cup, because they are better for the environment and you can dump the blood wherever you’re taking a poo. Just don’t leave your sanitary napkins or tampons in nature. Take them out.


Vaginas as We Age 

Do vaginas sag as we age? 

Dr. Phillips: The vulva and labia can lose some of its volume so it appears visually to hang a little bit. That's just a part of aging, just like men's private parts do, too. 


What can I do to make sure my pelvic floor is strong as I get older so I can keep exercising and stay injury-free? 

Dr. Phillips: It’s not uncommon to lift heavy weights and then leak a little bit, so I encourage patients to really diversify the types of exercise they're doing. You might do weights one day, but then Pilates which focuses on the core, and then high-intensity intervals. 

Pelvic floor therapy can be helpful, but it really depends on the person. Different things affect the pelvic floor — pregnancy, obesity, collagen weakness, and even something like a chronic cough can cause weakness. 



General Care 

Is it normal to have little bits of tissue stuck to my vulva? 

Dr. Phillips: People have toilet tissue stuck to parts of their bodies all the time. It's very common in the GYN office. Like people go to the bathroom before they come in and sometimes they have bits of toilet tissue stuck to them. It totally shouldn't be a big deal. It shows you wipe!


What kind of soap is ideal to use in my private areas?

Dr. Phillips: On your mons and outer labia, you can use liquid soap or bar soap, especially if it's hair-bearing because hair can trap odor. But you should not use any type of soap product in your inner labia or vagina. 


Along with being kind to your private areas and giving them the attention and care they deserve, wearing natural fibers like Merino wool can help you stay comfortable, dry, and BPA-free. Check out more Gynecologist Underwear Rules to Live by and browse our Innerwear to find the best solution for your lady flower. 

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