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    Never Stop Asking Questions

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | February 23rd, 2020

    Never Stop Asking Questions

    “She (He) who asks questions cannot avoid the answer.” African Proverb


    I do not have a poker face. When you ask me a question, you can pretty much look at my face to know how I feel. I was recently asked the following question –

     “Dr. Osuagwu, how do you feel about vaginal steaming?”

    I do not believe in vaginal steaming. There is nothing scientific about vaginal steaming. There is absolutely no proof that it helps with menstrual cramps, helps clean out the vagina, helps with menstrual flow or helps with vaginal dryness. Our vagina is truly a “self-cleaning” oven. The less you do with the vagina, the better. We all have bacteria in our vagina living in peace. When we steam, douche or whatever we decide to place in the vagina, it changes the normal flora. If you want help with menstrual cramps, put a heating pad on your lower abdomen. If there is an odor coming from your vagina, then see a doctor, it is probably an infection. If your menstrual flow is heavy, then you should see a doctor to make sure that you do not have fibroids. If you have vaginal dryness, you would do better with a natural moisturizer like coconut oil or vegetable oil. Avoid vaginal steaming. There is absolutely nothing natural about vaginal steaming. Let me put it this way, my grandmother who lived in Nigeria until the ripe age of 95 years old is as natural as you can get and she never had any steam entering her vagina. It is another to gimmick to make women believe that they need additional help with the vagina which we do not need. Let the movie stars waste their money. DO NOT STEAM YOUR VAGINA.

    Dr. Osuagwu, why do I have to see a primary care physician when I am seeing you?

    Because I am not a primary care physician is the short answer, but I better elaborate. A primary care physician is a doctor who is responsible for keeping up with your preventative care that includes any test that you need and your vaccine. They also care for you if you have chronic illnesses. The good news is that as a woman, you can have a primary care doctor and an OB/GYN. I believe we complement each other. I think it is important if you are only seeing your OB/GYN that you ask whether they are your primary care physician. I personally do not like to take care of colds or sinus infection. I only keep three vaccines in my office – the HPV vaccine, Tdap and the flu vaccine. If you are due for the shingles vaccine or pneumonia vaccine, I would not have it. If you have any chronic disease, like diabetes or hypertension, it is typically your primary care doctor that will take care of those diseases.  BOTTOM LINE – take advantage of the fact that with the Affordable Care Act, all women are allowed to see two physicians yearly – your primary care physician and your OB/GYN – four eyes are truly better than two eyes seeing you.

    Dr. Osuagwu, does hair dye or perming my hair cause breast cancer?

    We do not know. In December 2019 an article titled, Hair dye and chemical straightener use and breast cancer risk in a large US population of black and white women was published in the International Journal of Cancer. The study concluded that they observed a higher breast cancer risk associated with any straightener use and personal use of permanent dye, especially among black women. The study suggests that chemicals in hair products may play a role in breast carcinogenesis.

    What is important to know is that although all the women in the beginning of the study was breast-cancer free they  had  a sister that was diagnosed with breast cancer which put all the women in a high risk category. We know that hair products contain more than 5,000 chemicals, including some that are considered hormone disrupter and can affect how hormones in the body act. The women in the study regularly used hair dye and chemical straighteners every 5 – 8 weeks over a 12 months period. The association between using chemical hair straighteners and higher breast cancer risk was similar among back women and white women, but black women were much more likely to use hair straighteners than white women.

    Does hair dye and chemical straighteners cause breast cancer? Based on the study, the answer is no, but the use of hair dye and chemical straighteners does put you at risk of developing breast cancer. If you can avoid hair dye and chemical straighteners then do. If you cannot, then consider using it less often.

    Never stop asking questions.

    One Response to “Never Stop Asking Questions”

    1. Wow! Vaginal steamers? That is a new one to me:-)Great advice on doing less with the self-cleaning, self-sustaining part of our anatomy:-)Thank you!

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    With her trademark wit and straightforward communication, Dr. Osuagwu continues to dole out valuable medical advice using the letter form and addressing women’s health conditions and issues in a method that was praised for its innovative approach in her earlier award-winning book, Letters to My Sisters: Plain Truths and Straightforward Advice from a Gynecologist. In this book, each letter is paired with reference sources and statistics about the condition that is the subject of the letter.

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