Turns out vaginal hygiene products could do more harm than good

For most women, vaginal products are a part of their daily hygiene routine, and we use them thinking that are especially designed to protect us from infections and other inconvenience that comes with being a woman. 

However, according to a new study, these products could actually be detrimental to our health. 

Published by the University of Guelph in the journal BMC Women's Health, the research conducted on Canadian women revealed that those who use these products are three times more likely to experience some type of vaginal infection.

In some cases, women actually purchased the products to address an existing vaginal concern.

"While research has shown douching can have negative impacts on vaginal health, little was known about the dozens of other products out there," said psychology professor Kieran O'Doherty, the study's lead investigator.

Vaginal hygiene products have been used by 95 per cent of Canadian women, with the most commonly used products including anti-itch creams, moisturisers, lubricants, and feminine wipes. The results connected certain products with specific infections.

"The study does not establish whether it is the products causing the infections or whether women are using the products in an attempt to address the infection," said O'Doherty. "However, the results do provide important evidence for strong correlations that need further research."

For example, women who used gel sanitisers were eight times more likely to have a yeast infection and almost 20 times more likely to have a bacterial infection.

Women using feminine washes or gels were almost 3 ½ times more likely to have a bacterial infection and 2 ½ times more likely to report a urinary tract infection.

Participants using feminine wipes were twice as likely to have a urinary tract infection, and those using lubricants or moisturisers were 2 ½ times as likely to have a yeast infection.

"These products may be preventing the growth of the healthy bacteria required to fight off infection", O'Doherty added.

Pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical cancer, reduced fertility, ectopic and pre-term pregnancies, and bacterial and sexually transmitted infections are among the problems related to an abnormal vaginal microbiome.

Before anymore research can confirm these findings, we might just stick to a good old soap…

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