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GYNECOLOGICAL SAFETY + CARE The truths and myths about safe sex and feminine care with Julie Levitt, MD. COMPILED BY IYA BAKARE

TRUE/FALSE A Pap smear tells you the whole state of your genital health. FALSE. A Pap smear is a screening to reveal whether or not you have abnormalities in your cervical cells, which can lead to cervical cancer. Dr. Levitt suggests for you to check with your insurance provider because although Pap smears are covered by most insurances companies, many providers will not cover other types of screenings. You should get a Pap smear annually. FALSE. If you are over the age of 30 and aren’t a carrier of HPV, you can schedule your Pap smear screening every other year. However, you should schedule an annual visit with your gynecologist for a check-up.

You can be allergic to latex contraceptives. TRUE. Dr. Levitt comments there are cases of people who are allergic to latex condoms, but there are fewer cases than people believe. If you are allergic to latex, Dr. Levitt suggests vinyl condoms. Lambskin condoms may prevent pregnancy, but are not recommended for protection against the transmission of HIV.

to grow in warm and dark places. Avoid sitting around for long in moist undergarments from excess sweating after a workout or wet swim bottoms.

You should douche on a regular basis. FALSE. Dr. Levitt says there are bacteria that need to stay in the vaginal area, and douching can lead to possible pelvic infections.

You need to stop taking birth control pills for a specific length of time in order to conceive. FALSE. Dr. Levitt says it is possible to get pregnant the month after you decide to stop taking the pill.

Panty liners can cause yeast infections. TRUE. Minipads, or panty liners, can trap moisture. Dr. Levitt adds that yeast likes

Cotton is the best material for underwear. TRUE. According to Dr. Levitt, cotton is best because it’s organic and allows the vagina to breathe and for bad bacteria to escape.

JULY/AUG ME: IN FOCUS 101

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Dear Readers, Welcome to the long awaited S issue - the double issue that celebrates everything S, everything summer. My favorite season, su...