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Inside Your Vagina: Staying Healthy

Inside Your Vagina: Staying Healthy
The vagina is ever changing. It changes over a lifetime and over the course of a single menstrual cycle.

Bacteria: Home Team & Visiting Team

Understanding the ecology of your vagina is important. You can have the best vaginal hygiene yet still get an infection. 

Every woman has vaginal bacteria: the home team and visiting team.The home team contains probiotics like Lactobacillus. These are the bacteria you want. It’s good for your vagina to be acidic so the home team survives.

The visiting team is not your friend. Members include STIs and viruses; both can disturb the ecosystem in your vagina. The visiting team has a better chance at sticking around for women in perimenopause or menopause when the area isn’t moisturized by estrogen. The bad guys prefer a more alkaline environment.

Some members of your home team are a bit more inviting to the visiting team, making it easier for other bacteria to hang around longer.

Blood has a higher pH than your vagina’s preferred acidity. The spread of infections can be more of a problem during the menstrual flow.

Detoxifying Your Vagina?

First, anything that’s supposed to give you a pleasant aroma should be avoided. Vaginal tissue is quite sensitive. Don’t irritate it with allergens and scented products.

Second, the vagina is like a self-cleaning oven. It doesn’t need to be steamed. Don’t risk burning it with steam because the vagina is delicate.

Finally, you want happy, healthy vaginal flora. Don’t monkey with them in the name of detoxification.

Listen as Dr. Mary Jane Minkin joins Dr. Pamela Peeke to share how you can support your vagina’s optimal health.


Smarty Pants Vitamins
Featured Speaker:
Mary Jane Minkin, MD
DrMinkin2Mary Jane Minkin, MD, is clinical professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at the Yale University School of Medicine, and has been in private practice in New Haven (CT) for more than 35 years. Dr. Minkin is board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology, and she practices at Yale-New Haven Hospital. She earned her medical degree from Yale Medical School and her undergraduate degree from Brown University. She did both her internship and residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital, the former in internal medicine, the latter in obstetrics and gynecology. She is a fellow of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (FACOG), and has been a North American Menopause Society Certified Menopause Practitioner (NCMP) since 2002. Dr. Minkin has been Director of the Sexuality, Intimacy and Menopause clinic in the Division of Gynecological Oncology, in the Smilow cancer center at Yale New Haven Hospital since 2008. She has also been Director of the Yale Obstetrical and Gynecological Society (YOGS) since its inception in 2006.

She serves on numerous committees, notably for more than 25 years as Faculty Representative of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology on the Yale-New Haven Hospital Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, on the Yale Infection Control Committee, and on the Yale Antibiotic Drug Utilization Committee. She also serves on the residency selection committee.

Dr. Minkin has won numerous teaching awards, including the Irving Friedman Award, given by the Yale School of Medicine’s department of obstetrics and gynecology for excellence in clinical abilities and patient care, and the Francis Gilman Blake award, awarded by the graduating class to the clinical attending who taught them best. She has twice received the Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics ‘Excellence in Teaching’ Award, annually awarded to one faculty member from each member teaching institution, has three times been awarded the Resident’s Teaching Award for best community attending physician, and has been a member of the Society of Distinguished Teachers in the Yale University School of Medicine since 2002. Additionally, Dr. Minkin was named a “Top Doc” by Connecticut Magazine in each of the last 3 years, and in 2009, she was honored by The Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame for her significant contributions to the care and well-being of Connecticut citizens.

She is a leader in women’s health education both inside and outside the medical community. She is lead author or co-author of articles in numerous peer-reviewed medical journals, and has written 7 books, including The Yale Guide to Women’s Reproductive Health, A Woman’s Guide to Menopause and Perimenopause, and A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Health (each co-authored with Carol Wright); and a Clinician’s Guide (with Karen Giblin), Manual of Management Counseling for the Perimenopausal and Menopausal Patient. She wrote a prominent chapter, “Hormones, Fertility, and Menopause” in Dorling Kindersley’s recent (2009) reference volume, Women’s Health for Life. She is the Women’s Health advisor for Prevention magazine, and has previously written a monthly column, “Talk to the Doctor” for this periodical. Dr. Minkin is also the Expert for WebMD`s Menopause Community. She also served on the editorial board for Good Housekeeping’s Illustrated Book of Pregnancy & Baby Care. Finally, she has been Medical Advisor (and lecturer) for the country’s leading menopause education and support group PRIME PLUS/Red Hot Mama s for 20 years.

Dr. Minkin is nationally known in the field of gynecology, and is often interviewed and quoted in the print and broadcast media, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, many popular women’s magazines, and BuzzFeed. She is the women’s health commentator and a frequent guest on Faith Middleton’s Peabody Award winning show on National Public Radio (NPR); did a cross-country lecture series with Dr. Ruth Westheimer on postmenopausal sex; and has spoken at the 92nd Street Y in New York City on hormone replacement therapy. She has spoken extensively on a diverse set of important women’s health issues, more recently with greater focus on peri-and post-menopausal management, including intimacy and sexuality for breast and gynecological cancer survivors. Concomitantly, she has also written and spoken on how the OB/GYN can protect oneself from malpractice suits, a topic of increasing awareness and importance in our Culture of Safety.

Dr. Minkin has been medical advisor to the New Haven and Yale Rape Crisis Service since 1979, and has received the Arnold Markle Award from this service to a community member for outstanding service to rape victims. She has regularly spoken and written on evaluation and treatment of victims of sexual assault, and wrote the chapter `Rape` in a classic text in her field, Principles and Practice of Clinical Gynecology, by Kase and Weingold.

Dr. Minkin is married to Steve Pincus, a mathematician, and has two children in their 20s, Allegra and Max. She enjoys opera, historical fiction, and the New York Mets (even through peril and pain).