This past Tuesday, Her Campus held a Zoom Q&A session with Dr. Lincoln! Dr. Lincoln is a Board Certified OB-GYN, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, and medical writer. She has a TikTok following of 2.3 million and a total of 36.8 million likes! I am really grateful and happy to have been a part of this Q&A, and I learned so much along the way. Dr. Lincoln made me feel way more comfortable and confident in speaking about vaginal health, sexual health, and reproductive health. If you are interested in any of those topics, debunking myths about women’s reproductive health, or have questions regarding discharge, pap smears, etc., then stay tuned and read below for my coverage of the event!
Dr. Lincoln started the Q&A by talking about debunking myths regarding women’s health. She likes to use her TikTok platform to try and shut down false trends regarding reproductive health, while simultaneously reporting big companies trying to sell harmful products. In order to steer clear from this misinformation, Dr. Lincoln gave us some tips on how to combat this. Her main point was to always be skeptical! These companies spend millions on marketing alone in order to try and convince us that we need a certain product. Dr. Lincoln recommended asking The Big Three when coming across these companies and products: 1) Are they qualified? 2) What is their motivation? and 3) Do they have data to back them up? She strongly recommends that we do our own research on these companies and to look at their qualifications. Most of the time, they are just trying their best to make the most money off of you and do not care about the means it takes to get there. “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is,” she said.
Shame equals profit. Dr. Lincoln encouraged us to look at the specific words used when these companies market their products. They often try to make you feel dirty and shame you for literally just experiencing being a person with a vagina. She said to not feel guilty for falling for it, because that is what the marketing is aimed to do! In order to combat this, Dr. Lincoln urged us to make a difference by speaking out and reporting these businesses. The more we talk about the detrimental cultural, and even physical, effects, the more people can realize the actual motivations behind these companies. Dr. Lincoln said that education equals empowerment!
Now we will be getting into some of the actual Q&A portion of the chat! The first question regards birth control and how we can find what is best for us. Dr. Lincoln said that oftentimes, stages of life determine what birth control works best for you. Someone asked if post birth control syndrome is real. She said that although it is not technically a documented syndrome, that does not mean you won’t have side effects. The symptoms are individualized and depends on what your period, sex drive, and skin was like beforehand. Do not worry about switching up your birth control, Dr. Lincoln said that trial and error is completely okay and that as people change throughout their lives, so do their birth control preferences.
The next question was, “Is it normal to have day-to-day discharge?” Dr. Lincoln said discharge changes in relation to your cycle and your hormone levels. If you want to get into specifics, she said a teaspoon a day is considered normal for discharge. She said something may be wrong if it is bright green or yellow, clumpy, itchy, or has a strong odor. I also learned that wearing tight underwear can actually increase the chance of discharge and infection!
Does my vagina need soap? Dr. Lincoln said if you do purchase any vaginal cleansers, to stick to the outside only. Never put any product in your vagina because it can set off the pH balance and irritate it. Our vaginas are self-cleaning, therefore there is no need. Never put any fragrances or essential oils on or in the vagina because it is extremely irritating. She said if you do want to freshen up, start out with just water on the outside. Certain cleansers such as Cetaphil tend to have the same pH as the vagina, so if anything, she says to use those.
What advice do you have for college women who are afraid to get a pap smear? Dr. Lincoln said for her first time, she was terrified too! She gave us some tips on how to be prepared. It is okay to not have an exam on your first visit, you have control and can say stop whenever you want to. She recommended bringing a list of questions so you do not forget to ask. Sometimes when we get nervous, everything we’re thinking just flies out the window. Dr. Lincoln said you should get pap smears starting at 21, doing them every 3-5 years to check for cervical cancer. Do not be afraid to ask questions! Dr. Lincoln said that every gyno has heard almost everything, so they aren’t phased by your questions.
Lastly, is there anything you should do to prepare for an OBGYN? All Dr. Lincoln said was to show up on time! She said gynecologists do not care what you look like down there whatsoever, which honestly made me feel a lot better. They do not care what it smells like or if there are any fluids such as blood or discharge, they’ve seen it all! Plus Dr. Lincoln said they see so many vaginas throughout the day, that they are not going to even remember or care what yours looks like. She described the doctor-patient relationship as a partnership, which really made me feel comforted and more confident!
Overall, there is no shame in having a vagina or dealing with your sexual health! Dr. Lincoln said that we need to be more open in talking about it in order to change the way it is viewed. It is empowering to other women as well, and will hopefully encourage them to become more confident in speaking out about the topic. If you would like to follow Dr. Jennifer Lincoln, here social media are @drjenniferlincoln on TikTok, @drjenniferlincoln on Instagram, @drjenlincoln on Twitter, and her website is linked here. If you would like to learn even more, she also released her own book titled Let’s Talk About Down There, which you can find here (for an amazing price I might add). Only you are in control of your own body, and being more open about it is so empowering, so join Dr. Lincoln and the rest of us on this wonderful journey.