9 Health Myths About Your Vagina, Debunked

Every woman remembers their first time. Don’t you?

For me, it was the summer before my senior year of high school. My gig as a camp counselor had ended, and I was spending some time at my family’s beach house. It was a pretty cushy vacation — I filled out college applications at the public library in the mornings, and spent my afternoons on the beach (rough, I know).

And then, it happened.

All of a sudden, I felt like I had to pee all of the time. But when I actually urinated, it hurt. Bad. I guess I never really quite understood that described "burning" feeling until I experienced my first urinary tract infection. (Yes, that first time. What did you think I was talking about?!)

I’m sure you know the feeling: After all, following the flu and the common cold, UTIs (or, infections anywhere in the urinary tract) are the most common medical complaint among women ages 18 and up. To prevent other women from making the same mistakes I did — like frantically searching the internet for clues as to what was causing my pain rather than seeing a doctor — we partnered with AZO, products for UTI relief and beyond, to clear up nine myths we’ve heard about our vaginas. Together, we consulted Ronald D. Blatt, M.D.,* board-certified gynecologist and chief surgeon and medical director of the Manhattan Center for Vaginal Surgery and the Manhattan Centers for Women's Health, to answer our burning (no pun intended) questions so that in the future, our urinary and vaginal health doesn’t have to suffer.

1. Can Staying In Your Wet Bathing Suit *Really* Give You A Urinary Tract Infection? What About Sitting In Sweaty Workout Apparel?

The short answer? Yes.

"Yeast and bacteria thrive in moist, dark places, like a wet bathing suit or sweaty workout clothes," Dr. Blatt explains. "Chemicals added to pool water and beach sand trapped in your swimsuit bottom also cause an infection risk."

2. Are Certain Types Of Underwear Bad For Your Vagina?

There might not necessarily be underwear that's "bad" for your vagina, but there are definitely better options. Dr. Blatt recommends wearing cotton panties for their breathability, lightweight material, and soft texture.

"Soft, comfortable material is good for your health and hygiene," Dr. Blatt explains. "Moisture-wicking material with full coverage is best when exercising. The leading panties culprit to an unhealthy vagina is thongs!"

3. Can Drinking Cranberry Juice Cure A UTI?

Studies show that the compounds in cranberry juice do work to fight against bacteria — but simply chugging gallons of the red juice isn't the best way to treat an active case. Dr. Blatt recommends consulting your doctor to determine the best defense against your UTI.

Until you see a professional, know that there are over-the-counter antibacterial supplements that you can take to help control symptoms. And on the regular, you can take supplements such as AZO cranberry caplets, gummies, or soft gels to maintain your urinary tract health.

4. Does Shaving Or Waxing "Down There" Really Make You More Susceptible To Germs?

Unfortunately, shaving or waxing can cause irritation, ingrown hairs, nicks and cuts to your skin that increase the risk of contracting an infection.

Dr. Blatt endorses taking extra precautions by using the right waxing and/or shaving products to cleanse and lock in moisture, and to shave or wax at night. That is when your body regenerates itself and promotes healing.

5. Do Hygienic Liners In Bathing Suits Actually Provide Any Benefit Or "Safety" From Germs?

Not really.

When trying on or purchasing a swimsuit, the hygienic liners are not a safeguard against contact with bacteria. To truly protect yourself, Dr. Blatt suggests wearing your own underwear under the swimsuit while trying it on, or bring your own panty liners to use in the dressing room.

6. Is It True That Squatting To Pee Will Up Your Chances Of Contracting A UTI?

Yes (gasp!).

"Hovering over the toilet, squatting or semi squatting or crouching does not always allow you to completely empty your bladder due to the unnatural position of the body for elimination of pee — which can lead to infection if done often," Dr. Blatt says.

7. How dangerous is TSS, really?

Everything your middle school health teacher told you is true: Toxic shock syndrome is indeed a potentially fatal illness!

8. Is It Safe To Use Coconut Oil As Lube?

It depends.

Coconut oil may make some people more prone to vaginal infections, so Dr. Blatt recommends doing your research (there are different lubes for different types of sexual activity) and getting the right lube for your choice of sexual activity.

One big downfall? Coconut oil is incompatible with latex condoms, so consider that before you skip a trip to the pharmacy!

9. Is There Really A "Right" Way To Wipe?

Yes, yes — so many times yes.

"Wipe from front to back to prevent the germs present in feces from getting near your urethra," Dr. Blatt says.

This post is brought to you by AZO.

Ronald D. Blatt, M.D. is not affiliated with, nor does he personally endorse, AZO.

Main image: Offset