Intimate health is, for better or worse, an issue that takes up a fair amount of my mental real estate. A few years ago, after a medical malady marathon, I was diagnosed with and treated for ureaplasma. Even after the bacteria had been banished, what followed was a solid year of monthly clinic visits, drastic changes to my diet, and a veritable merry-go-round of yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis. After two years, dozens of doctor’s appointments, and countless ineffective medications, my body and I have found a delicate equilibrium, and most days I feel close to well. That balance is easily thrown off, however, by activities as normal as having sex, eating spicy food, or getting my period. I’d all but resigned myself to a lifetime of reproductive discomfort when a new product started popping up in my Instagram feed: a multi-use salve from organic vaginal wellness company Momotaro Apotheca, which promises real relief from the pain caused by both candida and BV—and from irritation caused by sex, exercise, and tight clothing to boot—while also treating the causes of said infections.
Was it possible to soothe my symptoms while healing their underlying causes, all without a trip to the clinic? I admit that I was skeptical—but I was also intrigued. I reached out to Momotaro founder Lindsay Wynn to find out how this unicorn salve works, and snagged a tub for my own personal test-run. Read on to find out how this cure-all works, and what happened with I put it to the test myself.
When I asked how Momotaro came to be, Wynn’s story was eerily similar to my own: “At 27 years old, I experienced a yeast infection that I first treated with over the counter medicine. It was full of chemicals, used generally offensive language and made me feel embarrassed of what I was experiencing,” she explains. This makes sense: 75 percent of women will experience a yeast infection; unfortunately, for many of us—including both myself and Wynn—any change to the vagina’s delicate microbiome can leave us vulnerable to other infections. Translation? The meds that treat yeast infections promote BV and vice versa, causing an endless cycle of embarrassment, discomfort, and illness. Wynn says of her own experience, “Little did I know, this medication would send me into a tailspin of recurrent infections including bacterial vaginosis, UTI’s, and even a kidney infection.”
Desperate to find a solution that didn’t exacerbate her current symptoms, Wynn and Momotaro co-founder Taylor Samuelsen developed a 100 percent natural, organic balm that aims to improve reproductive health and the general well-being of its consumer. “The salve was specifically formulated to help with symptomatic conditions AND address quality of life problems people with vaginas experience,” says Wynn. “We know a lot of people have daily pain and irritation and just live with it. We are aiming to change that.” The feeling of constant vaginal irritation—and the fatalist conviction that that’s just how my body works—was painfully familiar to me... But could one salve solve my problems?
While I wasn’t dealing with any major intimate health issues at the time of my product test drive, I was experiencing post-period irritation, hinting at the beginning of a bout of BV. In short, I was testing the salve for its use as a day-to-day inflammation reliever, as well as seeing if it could indeed keep BV at bay. Wynn instructs, “The literal approach is that the salve is applied directly to irritated body parts for a soothing, antimicrobial, and anti-fungal effect. Other ingredients have shown to assist in moisturization, healing and alleviation with itching.”
I decided to apply the salve twice daily, upon waking up and after showering in the evening. The formula is smooth and balmy and smells pleasantly medicinal, like a soothing mix of herbal and minty scents. The first thing that surprised me was the salve’s cooling sensation – that mintiness meant business, which was a blessing to my inflamed, irritated body. The second surprise? I felt relief. Genuine, honest-to-Goddess relief. No burning. No itching. For the first time in literal years, I felt normal. In turns of immediate gratification, Momotaro had my enthusiastic support. But was it just numbing my nethers, instead of offering a long term solution? Was it possible for the ointment to deliver on its promise of offering more permanent relief against infections, as opposed to just covering up symptoms?
The short answer is yes. After three days of twice-daily use, my BV symptoms were totally gone—even after I refrained from reapplying. The salve’s secret superpower? It’s efficacious ingredient list, which includes Oregon grape and goldenseal. “These both contain berberine,” Wynn explains,” “which has been shown to have beneficial antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties.” Science backs up these claims: Clinical studies demonstrate that “berberine [shows] significant anti-fungal activity against Candida strain” and increases the effectiveness of OTC medicines like metronidazole gel. The result is an all-natural, plant-based defense against both yeast and BV that actually works.
Needless to say, I was floored. Why hadn’t I learned about berberine before? Why weren’t there more products on the market that targeted long-term health as well as immediate relief? One explanation may be that historically, intimate care has been shrouded in inaccurate information and superfluous products that claim to solve problems that don’t actually exist—all at the expense of our health. “Vaginal care is more simple than you think,” says Wynn. “We have unfortunately been made to think otherwise and historically have been given products in ideologies that actually hurt more than they help.”
In addition to incorporating Momotaro into my routine—the salve has now graduated to a spot on my nightstand, where only my most frequently used products live—Wynn suggests a few super simple hacks for maintaining vaginal wellness. She recommends probiotics, sleeping naked, and avoiding soaps and harsh chemicals when washing up. Her final word of advice is straightforward, powerful, and costs nothing: “LOVE YOURSELF. You are perfect, you smell perfect, you taste, look and feel perfect. Do not give a single ounce of energy to people or companies who say differently. Vaginas and vulvas are complicated and amazing parts of our body. Let's treat them and ourselves with respect.”