I had the honour and pleasure of sitting down with Dr. Marla Shapiro and asking her some pretty important questions regarding women’s health.
When preparing for this interview, at first I was unsure of what I would ask and how to go about this. I told Dr. Shapiro that I decided to do some field work, if you will, and I asked some of my friends who are all moms, while we were sitting down at our kids’ gymnastics class.
Dr. Shapiro really loved the idea of getting real questions and having a real and honest discussion with fellow moms who also have these queries about the many wonders of women’s health, but its not always easy to ask. Dr. Shapiro asked me, “If you weren’t doing this blog, could you see yourself asking these questions? Can you see this as a conversation starter?” No, definitely not. But when I did bring it up, it became an engaged discussion that was received well.
Off the bat, I learned that bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, itch, and odour are common feminine health issues, and 5% of women experience these issues recurrently. Women aren’t always aware they have a problem and the many products that are available to treat these products are often misused.
Dr. Marla Shapiro is one of Canada’s most trusted physicians, and she really helped me understand the common misconceptions associated with women’s health, the importance of proper pH, how to treat these issues and of course prevention- something we often overlook.
When learning about RepHresh, I realized the importance of awareness and that there are products that can not only help with treatment but also in prevention. The big message here is the prevention aspect of women’s health, and that us women don’t really think in that respect. We take flu shots, but we don’t think about preventing other infections and this is one more prevention strategy for overall women’s health.
My Interview with Dr. Marla Shapiro:
- Does a woman have to see a Doctor at the first sign of a yeast infection?
Shapiro:The questions should really be, “Is a woman accurate, in making her diagnosis of a yeast infection?” Women think yeast infections are the most common, when in fact they’re not. Only 29% of what Doctors see are yeast infections, when 50% are in fact bacterial vaginosis, not yeast.
Often times, its neither. Often times, women reach for an over-the-counter product, and when the problem doesn’t go away, that’s when they come and see me. Quite often, vaginal itch, odour and discharge are not a diagnosable infection or disease.
Understanding, is my condition diagnosable, or is this a pH issue, and how to prevent these issues and keep your pH in balance is important to understand within your vaginal ecosystem. Things that can affect your vaginal pH, sexual intercourse, diet, hormones, exercise, in other words, life.
2. What is the difference between a yeast infection and bacterial vaginosis?
Shapiro: Yeast is an overgrowth of your candida. Bacterial Vaginosis is the bacteria that is normally growing, is now growing in excess, and you have an overgrowth.
3. Is one more harmful than the other?
Shapiro: Its not a question of whether one is more harmful, Bacterial Vaginosis is more common but less known. It is 71% of what we see. When I see women in my practice with these recurrent issues, that’s when we want to keep things in balance.We can do that by making sure our pH is normal.What can we do to not only maintain the pH, but also to prevent, and that’s when the concept of a probiotic comes in.
Its important to know that not all probiotics are the same. If you had an irritable bowel, you would be reaching for one probiotic, but if the issue is recurrent Bacterial Vaginosis, we would talk about the use of an oral probiotic (pill), but only the probiotic that has the right lactobacilli, that are going to support vaginal health.
4. Is over-the-counter medication typically effective for a yeast infection?
Shapiro: If you have a yeast infection, and it truly is a yeast infection, yes.
5. What should we do if we’re on antibiotics, which is known to make women more vulnerable to yeast?
Shapiro: You have to use the right probiotics. The right probiotic that supports vaginal health, not gut health.
RePHresh – Pro B has 30 capsules, it has the two strains of lactobacilli, it is also a shelf stable product, which is pretty uncommon for probiotics, so many of them have to be refrigerated. When you see the B, it means balance. Balance in your vaginal ecosystem. The RepHresh products are backed by clinical studies, that demonstrate the two lactobacilli strains and how they will migrate to the vagina and it will create a balanced environment that will aid in the prevention of yeast and Bacterial Vaginosis.
6. What are common misconceptions of vaginal health?
Shapiro: The main one is, if there is an odour than there is a disease. Same goes for if there is an itch or discharge, many women will assume there is a disease. Again – that isn’t necessarily the case, that simply might be a reflection of your pH not being within range.
7. Does lifestyle affect infections such as bladder, yeast and uti?
Shapiro: YES! We know that balancing the vaginal pH can reduce the risk of urinary tract infections. We see that through life and we see that in post menopausal women. What happens in menopause is that your ph becomes alkaline, if you’re not using a local estrogen to support the ph, you’ll not only get vaginal dryness, but also recurrent uti’s. In younger women as well, sometimes uti’s have to do with the vaginal ph.
8. How do you get a uti?
Shapiro: There are many ways you can get a uti. They are common after sexual intercourse, make sure you urinate before and after sex. A good strategy for women that are prone to this, is to make sure they are balancing their pH and they can use these products to ensure balance. They last 80 hours (in the medical literature)The product claim is 3 days, which is easy to remember, but the literal time is 80 hours.
9. What is the difference between a bladder infection and a uti?
Shapiro: Nothing. They are the same thing.
10. Does a bladder infection have anything to do with a yeast infection?
Shapiro: Sometimes treatment for a bladder infection can increase your risk of yeast, so in that case you want to use a probiotic. Think of a probiotic as being proactive. You’re thinking long term prevention strategies.
11. So when we’re talking probiotic, we’re not just talking yogurt anymore?
Shapiro: That is the whole point of understanding the difference between vaginal health and gut health. You can read about vaginal health in the Canadian probiotic guide, where it is clear in telling you, the only thing that works is a probiotic that has lactobacilli of the two type that keep your vaginal environment balanced. This is not the same probiotic you would take for gut health.
RepHresh can be found in the feminine health care isle. People might not know to go into the feminine isle to look for these probiotic products, so this is great awareness. The repHresh balancing gel, upon insertion, clings to the vaginal wall and it is specially formulated to create that right ecosystem, tackling odour and discomfort.
It is important to understand the science and delivery of the product.
12. Does every woman need to see an OB besides when you’re pregnant.
Shapiro: No. Women need to have a primary care provider and that’s who they need to see.
13. I always thought that since they switched to pap smears every 3 years, that was due to health cuts.
Shapiro: No, that is due to knowledge. This is not Ontario cuts, it is worldwide.
Thank you Dr. Marla Shapiro and RepHresh for choosing me as an ambassador to bring awareness to this very important issue. I feel lucky to have had this opportunity and for what I learned.