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Watch Out for Products that Increase Risk of Common Vaginal Infections

By Stacy Lloyd HERWriter
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beware of products that can increase common vaginal infection risk

Two-thirds of women in a new U.S. study reported that they regularly use cleansers, lubricants, oils or petroleum jelly intravaginally, according to Reuters Health.

The problem with this? Some of the products were linked to a higher chance of common vaginal infections.

Based on lab tests, women who used products not intended for vaginal insertion, such as oils and petroleum jelly, were more likely to have yeast and bacterial infections. These findings were published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, said Reuters Health.

Little research has been conducted on the possible effects of over-the-counter products that some women use vaginally, said Joelle Brown. Brown is a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, who led the study wrote

Brown and her colleagues found of 141 Los Angeles women that they studied, half reported they'd used some type of over-the-counter product vaginally in the past month, including sexual lubricants, petroleum jelly and baby oil, said WebMD.

The researcher found that women who use petroleum jelly intravaginally are more than twice as likely to develop a bacterial vaginal infection (bacterial vaginosis) than women who do not, wrote

Reuters Health added that 44 percent of women who reported using intravaginal oils tested positive for candida, the fungus that causes yeast infections, compared to 5 percent of women who did not use oils.

Bacterial vaginosis symptoms include discharge, pain, itching or burning, said WebMD. Most women have no symptoms, and the infection usually causes no long-term problems. It occurs when the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina is disrupted.

However the new findings do not prove that petroleum jelly directly increased women's risk of bacterial vaginosis, wrote WebMD.

Petroleum jelly might promote the growth of bad bacteria because of its "alkaline properties," wrote An acidic vaginal environment is what protects women from colonization from abnormal organisms.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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