Most of us already know the negative health effects caused by smoking; nonetheless, it often does not make quitting any easier. While smoking cessation improves heart and lung health, it also improves vaginal health! Here are three reasons why your vagina will thank you for kicking that smoking habit:
Smoking increases your risk of bacterial vaginosis: Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is never fun! This vaginal infection is caused by an alteration in the vagina’s pH. Symptoms include thin, gray discharge that often has a FISHY odor. Known risk factors for BV include multiple sex partners, vaginal douching, frequent use of scented soaps, semen exposure, and SMOKING! BV can be treated with antibiotics, but the most important part is preventing it from recurring. By stopping smoking, you can decrease your risk of developing BV!
Smoking increases risk of cervical cancer: Have you ever had an abnormal Pap smear? If that is you, then make sure to stay away from smoke. The American Cancer Society (2020) estimates that women who smoke are twice as likely to get cervical cancer than non-smoking women. Research has shown that cervical cancer is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV); however, smoking often works alongside HPV to help it cause cervical cancer. So the next time, you feel the urge to smoke . . . please don’t! Protect your cervix.
Smoking also increases your risk of vulvar cancer: Not only does smoking increase the risk of cervical cancer, it also increases the risk of vulvar cancer. The vulva is the external skin in your vaginal region - the region you see from the outside. Because it is skin, it is possible to develop a special type of skin cancer there too. Like cervical cancer, vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN), aka vulvar skin cancer, can be caused by HPV and is common among older women in their 40s and up. Smoking can work with the HPV to bring on that cancerous process.
The moral of the story: Smoking is not good for us. Your vagina, and your overall health, deserve a smoke-free experience and a chance at optimal health and wellness!
American Cancer Society. (2020). Risk factors for cervical cancer. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cervical-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/risk-factors.html.