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Author: thomas

How to Take Care of “Down There”

Our goal is to promote healthy vulvar skin and decrease or relieve vaginal and vulvar symptoms. This can be accomplished by the avoidance of potential contact irritants, chemicals, moisture, or rubbing (friction). These guidelines are based upon past success!

Laundry Products

  • Use a detergent free of dyes, enzymes and perfumes. Use a “Free and Clear” detergent on any clothing that comes in contact with your vulva such as your underwear, exercise clothes, towels, or pajama bottoms. Baby detergents are usually scented and should not be used.
  • Do not use a fabric softener in the washer or dryer on these articles of clothing. If you do use dryer sheets with the rest of your clothes, for any loads, you must hang dry your underwear, towels, and any other clothing that comes in contact with your vulva. White vinegar can be used in the washer as a natural softener, and dryer balls can help combat static.
  • Limit stain removing products. Bleach or stain removers are not recommended for your underwear.


  • Wear all cotton underwear with a white crotch, not nylon with a cotton crotch. Cotton allows air in and moisture out. Nylon underwear with a cotton crotch is acceptable ONLY if you are able to cut away the nylon covering the cotton crotch.  Thong type underwear is not recommended on a daily basis.  Sleeping without underwear is advised, loose fitting pajama pants or boxers are acceptable.
  • Avoid full pantyhose. If you wear them, cut out the diamond crotch (be sure to leave about ¼ to ½ inch of fabric from the seam to prevent running) OR wear thigh high hose.
  • Avoid tight clothing, especially clothing made of synthetic fabrics.  Remove wet bathing and exercise clothing as soon as you can. Limit use of Spanx-type garments.

Bathing and Hygiene

  • Avoid bath soaps, lotions, gels, etc. that contain perfumes. These may smell nice but can be irritating. This includes many baby products and feminine hygiene products marked “gentle” or “mild”. Do not use body washes! We suggest any of the following soaps in a bar form:  Dove-Hypoallergenic, all-natural olive oil soap, Neutrogena, Basis, or Pears.
  • Hand soap dispensers: Use a liquid fragrance-free soap.
  • Hand sanitizers:  Before touching the vulvar skin, wash with a recommended soap to avoid irritation from the alcohol and chemicals in the hand sanitizers.
  • Avoid all bubble baths, bath salts and scented oils.
  • Do not scrub vulvar skin with a washcloth, loofa or net sponge. Washing with your hands is adequate for good cleaning.
  • Do not use hot water while bathing or showering.  Use only lukewarm to cool water.
  • Pat dry rather than rubbing with a towel or use a hairdryer on a cool setting to dry the vulva.
  • Baking soda soaks:  Soak in lukewarm (not hot) bath water with 4-5 tablespoons of baking soda to help soothe vulvar itching and burning. A sitz bath that goes on the toilet is best.  Soak 1-3 times a day for 5-10 minutes when you have vulvar symptoms.  A sitz bath tub is available without a prescription at your pharmacy or medical supply store.
  • Use white, unscented toilet paper. Avoid “ultra soft” or “ultra strong” products, they are overly processed with chlorine and formaldehyde.  Use a basic toilet paper such as Angel Soft, Scott or 7th Generation.  Avoid “wiping” after urinating, blot, dab or rinse with tap water only.
  • Avoid all feminine hygiene sprays, perfumes, adult, or baby wipes.  Pour lukewarm water over the vulva after urinating if urine causes burning of the skin.
  • Avoid the use of deodorized pads and tampons. Tampons should be used when the blood flow is heavy enough to soak one tampon in four hours or less. Menstruation cups are also acceptable. Use only pads that have a cotton liner that comes in contact with your skin (no dry-weave pads).
  • Do not use over-the-counter creams or ointments until you ask your health care provider. When buying ointments, be sure that they are paraben- and fragrance-free.
  • Small amounts of extra virgin olive oil, vegetable oil, coconut oil, or solid shortening may be applied to your vulva and vagina as often as needed to protect and moisturize the skin.  It also helps to decrease skin irritation during your period, and when you urinate.
  • DO NOT DOUCHE. Baking soda soaks will help rinse away extra discharge and help with odor.
  • DO NOT SHAVE, wax or laser the vulvar area (the bikini line is okay).
  • Some women may have problems with chronic dampness. Keeping dry is important.
    • Do not wear pads daily, as they block the free flow of air and rub on the tissue.
    • Choose cotton fabrics whenever you can. Keep an extra pair of underwear with you in a small ban and change if you become damp during the day at work/school.
    • A non-talc containing powder such as Zeosorb Powder may be applied to the vulva and groin area one to two times per day to help absorb moisture.
  • Dryness and irritation during intercourse may be helped by using a lubricant.  Use a small amount of a pure vegetable oil/olive oil/shortening. The vegetable products contain no chemicals to irritate vulvar /vaginal skin, and will rinse away with water and will not increase your chances of infections.  Water-based products, like K-Y Jelly, tend to dry before intercourse is over and also contain chemicals that can irritate your vulvar skin.  It may be helpful to use a non-lubricated, non-spermicidal condom, and use vegetable oil as the lubricant.

Birth Control Options

  • All hormonal contraceptives effect vaginal secretions, but should not cause vaginitis.
  • Lubricated condoms, contraceptive jellies, creams, or sponges may cause itching and burning. Ask your health care provider for help.
  • The use of latex condoms with vegetable oil as a lubricant is suggested to protect your skin. Oil-based lubricants may affect the integrity of condoms when used for birth control or prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. Our experience has not found this to be a problem with vegetable-based oils. However, the Centers for Disease Control recommend that condoms not be used with any oil-based lubricants for birth control or prevention of sexually transmitted disease.

Showing Love: The Importance of Self Care

Self-care is important for your overall well-being, but it goes much further than just facemasks and a bubble bath (though that can absolutely be a part of it). Self-care is a part of your emotional, psychological, and social well-being, also known as your mental health. Not only does practicing self-care keep you more connected to yourself, but it can also prevent illnesses, help with stress recovery, and strengthen your ability to handle stress.

Though we typically think of self-care as an every-now-and-then thing, it should be included in our daily schedule. Some examples of ways you can practice self-care include…

  • Turning your phone on “do not disturb” and taking time just for you.
  • Eating in a way that keeps your energy levels up and focus levels sharp.
  • Drinking enough water! It’s recommended that you drink 60 – 62 ounces of water a day but increase your intake on especially hot days.
  • Spend at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. Whether it’s yoga, the gym, or walking the dog, exercise can help to clear your mind.
  • Set time aside to do some stress-releasing activities. This can be journaling, crafting, napping, listening to music, or whatever else works to relax you.
  • Get a full night’s sleep. A full night means 7 – 9 hours of sleep a night. Avoiding blue light from phones and computers can help you fall asleep faster.
  • And, of course, facemasks and bubble baths. A little self-pampering can go a long way.

Remember that everyone doesn’t practice self-care in the same way, so what works for some may not work for you. Self-care should make you feel relaxed, refreshed, and rejuvenated. If you’re struggling to find a place to start, take a minute and reflect on things that you enjoy doing, what makes you feel good about yourself, or what’s something you’ve wanted to try. Take steps to start incorporating some of those things in your day-to-day life.

Call Greenville Women’s Care if you want to talk to a doctor about the best way to practice self-care or your mental health. We’re here to help you with all aspects of your physical and mental health. You can reach us at 252-757-3131 or visit to set up an appointment.

Packing Your Hospital Bag: A Comprehensive List 

When you’re on the way to deliver a baby, the last thing you want to do is scramble around and pack your hospital bag. We’re here to give you a list of things you should consider bringing to the hospital. Keep in mind – everybody is different and wants their own birth experience. You’re always welcome to pack more or less than our list.

For Labor and Delivery:

  • Paperwork, IDs, and Insurance cards – ensure that your medical records are easily accessible for medical staff to review and that you can check into the hospital.
  • Your birth plan – if you’ve created a birth plan, bring it with you so medical staff can reference it if they have any questions. If you don’t have one, no worries. It’s not required.
  • Bathrobe/Labor Dress – this can make the hospital feel more at home while you’re waiting to go into labor.
  • Socks – nobody likes cold feet.
  • Slip-on shoes and flip-flops – slip-on shoes are great for when you want to walk around the hospital ward. You’ll want some flip-flops to use as shower shoes.
  • Lip Balm – nobody wants chapped lips, especially if you’re going into labor. This simple thing can make you feel much more comfortable.
  • Lotion – Itchy, dry skin is the last thing you want when you’re about to have a baby. Lotion can help your skin stay hydrated and keep you focused on the task at hand.
  • Comfy pillows – hospital pillows aren’t anything to call home about, so consider bringing your own. If you’re the type who likes to sleep with a specific pillow, we recommend getting it (just remember to bring it home).
  • Eye mask and earplugs – you deserve to rest, but sometimes the hospital isn’t the best place to sleep. An eye mask and earplugs can help you sleep peacefully.

After Delivery:

  • Nightgowns/PJs – you’ll want something comfy to sleep in after delivery. If you plan on breastfeeding, we recommend wearing something that’s front-opening.
  • Maternity pads – the hospital will provide you with maternity pads, but it’s always good to be prepared. You’ll probably change them every couple of hours for the first few days after giving birth, so we recommend heavy-duty pads.
  • Underwear – several pairs of underwear are recommended. Bring something you’ll be comfortable in and can easily hold your maternity pads.
  • Toiletries – a hairbrush, comb, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, hair ties, skincare, and lotion can make a huge difference in how you feel after labor. We also recommend a bag to put your dirty clothes in.
  • Clothes – you may want some comfy clothes to wear around the hospital while you’re there.

To Share with Your Partner:

  • Snacks and water – you can have some of these too. Labor can be a long process, so having something to eat and drink along the way can be nice.
  • Charger – we recommend an extra-long charger.
  • Entertainment – a book, a tablet, headphones for music, whatever you prefer.

For Your Baby:

  • Bodysuits – different hospitals have different policies, so make sure you ask. But bringing something for your baby to wear is a good idea.
  • Socks and booties – newborns get cold easily, so it’s a good idea to bring something to keep them warm.
  • Blanket – the hospital will give you a blanket, but if you have a special blanket in mind for them, then it’s a good idea to bring it.
  • Going home outfit – think about the weather when packing what your baby will come home in; they get cold easily!
  • Car seat – you’ll need a car seat (already installed) to take your baby home safely.

Remember that this birth is yours. We want you to have things with you to help you be more comfortable during your stay. If you have any questions about different policies, want to create a birth plan, or are curious if there are other things you should pack for the hospital, call Greenville Women’s Care at 252-757-3131 to talk to our Midwife, Sarah Sears, or make an appointment.

Ovarian Cyst Warning Signs

Ovarian cysts are solid or fluid-filled sacs that form within your ovaries. Many women develop ovarian cysts at some point in their lives. These cysts typically form during ovulation, which is the time during your monthly cycle when one of your ovaries releases an egg.

Ovarian cysts sometimes cause pain and other symptoms, but sometimes they don’t cause any symptoms at all. Often cysts form and then go away on their own in a few weeks or in one to three months.

Although most ovarian cysts are benign — meaning they are not cancerous — in rare cases cysts are a sign of ovarian cancer. For this reason, it is always wise to tell your doctor about any symptoms that might suggest the presence of ovarian cysts.

The physicians at Greenville Women’s Care recommend calling our office for a checkup if you experience any of the following warning signs of ovarian cysts.

1. Pelvic pain.

You feel pelvic pain in your lower belly. Ovarian cysts are one of many possible causes of pelvic pain. The pain from ovarian cysts may feel sharp or dull. You may feel pain for extended periods of time, or it may come and go.  Ovarian cyst-related pain tends to be worse during your menstrual period. The hormones produced during your period can cause ovarian cysts to form or enlarge, triggering pain. When a cyst ruptures, you may feel sudden, severe pain in your pelvic region.

2. Referred pain.

Pain from ovarian cysts can travel beyond the pelvic area to your low back or even your thighs. This is called referred pain.

3. Bloating.

Like many women, you may experience bloating during your period, but watch for unusual bloating that can result when an ovarian cyst grows larger.

4. Nausea and vomiting.

Nausea and vomiting may sometimes occur when an ovarian cyst causes one of your ovaries to become twisted.

5. Changes in urination or passing stools.

Occasionally ovarian cysts can affect the action of your bladder or bowels so that you have trouble emptying them. You may also find that you need to urinate more often.

6. Fever.

If an ovarian cyst becomes infected, you may develop a fever.

7. Unexplained bleeding.

Ovarian cysts can sometimes cause bleeding when you do not expect it. Call our office without delay if you have unexplained bleeding — it can be a sign of a medical condition that requires attention.

8. Unexplained weight gain.

In rare cases, ovarian cysts can grow surprisingly large. Their size, along with the bloating that can occur, may make a difference in the numbers on your bathroom scale.

9. Pain during sex.

Ovarian cysts can occasionally result in pain or discomfort during sex. This is especially likely if you develop a type of ovarian cyst known as an endometrioma, which occurs most commonly in women with endometriosis, a condition in which uterine tissue grows outside the uterus.

10. Trouble getting pregnant.

In women with a condition known as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), many ovarian cysts form over time. Sometimes women with PCOS can have trouble getting pregnant.

Although many ovarian cysts go away on their own, some require surgical removal. The doctors at Greenville Women’s Care have extensive experience with the surgical methods used to remove ovarian cysts. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed here — or if you need other gynecological care — call us for an appointment. Our team of women’s health care providers can help you with all of your gynecological needs.

Five Topics to Always Talk to Your Gynecologist About

When you visit your gynecologist for routine check-ups, you may look at it like a chore for getting a clean bill of health and then move onto the next item on your to-do-list. But it is important that you pay attention to your body throughout the year and make a list of questions that you may have. Take the time to ask your gynecologist questions, so you have a better understanding of your body. If any of these 5 topics apply to you, you should never leave the gynecologist’s office without discussing with your physician.

Pregnancy and Fertility

Your obstetrician is an excellent resource for you to talk with about fertility, becoming pregnant or if you are currently pregnant. Your obstetrician can offer advice on topics ranging from ovulation kits, pregnancy tests, early signs of pregnancy and also early signs of infertility.

While you might want to keep that you are trying to get pregnant a secret from friends and family, you should never keep that fact from your doctor. Not only will they be able to provide helpful information about lifestyle changes that help promote conception, but they will also understand the emotional stress that can occur when trying to get pregnant.

Painful Intercourse

If  having intercourse is uncomfortable and causes you pain, you may need to talk to your doctor. Even if you are uncomfortable discussing your sex life with your doctor, or you are embarrassed to talk about it with anyone other than your best friend, painful intercourse should not be ignored. You may even want to call your physician before your visit and let them know this is going on so they will remember to bring it up during your appointment.

Your gynecologist can also help answer questions or find the cause of pain during intercourse. Pain during sex does not just happen during menopause, it can be a symptom of birth control, endometriosis, or other underlying medical issues. Bleeding during intercourse should also be discussed with your gynecologist. Bleeding can be caused by dryness, infections or other underlying issues and talking about this during your visit can help your gynecologist help you effectively.

Heavy, Painful, and/or Irregular Periods

As women, we are often discouraged to discuss our menstrual cycle. Because of this, it can be hard to know if your period is “normal”, or if something you are experiencing is due to an underlying medical issue. Heavy periods can mean different things to different women, so it is important that you talk to your gynecologist if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

Heavy periods can be caused by a number of things such as uterine fibroids, hormonal imbalance, polyps, uterine hyperplasia or cancer. Painful periods may also be a sign of endometriosis, uterine fibroids or pelvic inflammatory disease. Your gynecologist can help you figure out why your periods are abnormally heavy and painful and recommend treatment that can provide you relief.

Irregular periods can be normal in the adolescent years, but not as you mature. A typical menstrual cycle is anywhere from 21 to 35 days. As with heavy bleeding, every woman is different, but if you have a hard time predicting when you are going to have your period, be sure to speak with your gynecologist.

If your periods are irregular. Even if you are used to some periods lasting a week and being extremely heavy, and other months having a two-day menstrual cycle that is lightweight, you need to talk to your doctor about the topic. It could be the sign of a more serious problem.

Depression After Childbirth

If you do not feel like yourself after childbirth and suffer from signs of depression and negative thoughts, contact your doctor immediately. These feelings are not uncommon and are nothing to be ashamed of or brushed under the rug. Your gynecologists can work with you to find the right treatment to get you back to your happy and healthy self.

Menopausal Concerns

Going through menopause is a very challenging time in a women’s life. And to make matters worse, it comes with a slew of side effects like hot flashes, restlessness when trying to sleep, weight gain and mood swings. Your doctor can work with you to reduce the symptoms and let you know what is normal, and what is not. If anything can be done to relieve the symptoms of menopause, you should definitely consider them.

Whether you are going to the OBGYN for the first time, or if you have been going for many years, it can be uncomfortable to share private information about your body with your gynecologist. Our office has the most female physicians – and like you, as women, we have been in your shoes. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our gynecologists.