First For Women
How can I eliminate “down there” odor? Q A friend of mine swears by a supplement called uva ursi to treat her UTIs. Should I try it?
Since going through menopause last year, I’ve noticed that my vaginal odor is stronger than it used to be. Is this normal?
It is. Many women experience this problem after menopause, when vaginal pH tends to rise, causing an uptick in odor. Fortunately, there are simple fixes. First, I recommend using a vaginal gel like RepHresh pH Balancing Gel ($17 for a 12-day supply, Target.com). It contains polycarbophil, a slightly acidic compound that lowers pH to reduce odor.
I also suggest taking a daily probiotic that includes lactobacillus, a bacterial strain that produces pHlowering lactic acid. One to try: Renew Life Ultimate Flora Women’s Care Probiotic 25 Billion ($21 for 30 capsules, Vitacost.com). Enjoying one to two daily servings of lactobacilli-rich fare such as yogurt or kefir can also help shore up levels. But if these measures don’t improve the odor within a week, consider seeing your doctor. She can suggest other strategies to normalize your pH to curtail odor. A Many of my patients have used uva ursi successfully to nip urinary tract infections (UTIs) in the bud. The herb contains arbutin, a compound that, in a German study, thwarted the growth of 70 different urinary bacteria, including the E. coli that causes more than 85 percent of UTIs. If you want to try it, I suggest taking 500 mg three times a day. (One to try: Solaray Uva Ursi, $7 for 100 capsules, LuckyVitamin.com.)
Uva ursi should be taken at the first signs of urinary urgency or mild burning, and it works best in an alkaline environment, so for optimal results avoid vitamin C and cranberry juice—both of which acidify the urine—while taking the supplement. Finally, uva ursi is meant for short-term use, so if symptoms don’t abate after a few days, see your doctor. You may need antibiotics to eradicate your infection.