Daniella Levy is breaking stigma around vaginal health

Taking care of your vagina should not be taboo. Half of the world’s population (possibly more) has a vagina, so why is it still considered so secret — especially in Latinx families? Daniella Levy, founder and CEO of Happy V, asked herself the same question after struggling with vaginal health issues for years. “I started suffering from bacterial vaginosis (BV) seven years ago. Not many people talked about BV back then, but it’s actually the most common vaginal infection in women aged 15-44,” she tells POPSUGAR.

Daniella recalls switching gynecologists five times and going through a seemingly never-ending cycle of antibiotics, with doctors often dismissing her experiences. “The worst part was not being able to talk about it with my friends, my partner, or my family — which made me feel even more alone and took a toll on my mental health,” she says. Desperate and frustrated, Daniella took the initiative to pursue her research and stumbled across clinical research on natural ingredients. This moment became a turning point for the Latina entrepreneur as it inspired her to launch Happy V. “I wanted to offer effective, safe, and natural products for women like me who were going through these experiences and not getting the solutions they needed.”

If you are unfamiliar with BV, it is an infection that occurs when harmful bacteria outnumber the good bacteria in the vaginal microbiome. It’s not a sexually transmitted infection (STI), and it doesn’t mean the person who gets it isn’t clean, as is often assumed. Nonetheless, she cautions that BV can increase your risk of getting an STD like chlamydia if left untreated. She adds, “Bacterial vaginosis is so common because so many things can trigger it at any time: diet, sex, wearing synthetic underwear, your menstrual cycle, medications, tight sweaty clothing, perfumed personal care products, birth control like the IUD, diseases like diabetes and different life stages such as pregnancy and menopause due to hormonal changes.”

“There was this perception that if you have a vaginal infection, you don’t take care of yourself. It’s important for people to understand that vaginal infections are normal and not exclusively associated with sex or hygiene.”

“The vagina contains its own ecosystem where bacteria and yeast live in harmony, but if something disrupts this ‘balanced’ environment, your pH can rise above 4.5 and become more alkaline,” Levy explains. “When your vagina’s pH is above 4.5, lactobacilli (good bacteria) become less efficient, cannot thrive in the vaginal microbiome, and anaerobes (harmful bacteria) can colonize the vagina and create their toxins and symptoms of BV.” Symptoms vary from person to person and include unusual vaginal discharge, unusual foul odor, thin grayish or greenish-yellow discharge, itching and painful urination.

Daniella’s primary mission was to create natural and non-toxic solutions with products like Prebiotic + Probiotic ($38.99), Menopause Relief ($34.99), Liquid Chlorophyll ($19.99), and more. But part of Levy’s mission is to contribute to a stigma-free world by providing educational content that helps women better understand the effects of BV and feel less alone. “What really opened my eyes when I first started experiencing bacterial vaginosis is that if I ever brought it up in conversation and indicated to a friend or family member that I was going through something, their immediate response was, ,I’. I’ve never had anything ‘I’m clean’ or ‘I’ve checked myself twice this year and I’m clean,'” says Levy. “There was this perception that if you have a vaginal infection, you don’t take care of yourself. It’s important for people to understand that vaginal infections are normal and not exclusively associated with sex or hygiene.” The Miami native says this has influenced her desire to speak out on all things vaginal have to do. “Because it’s important to let people know that this is normal, that it’s okay and that there are solutions. The more we speak out, the more we will break down that stigma and normalize the conversation about vaginal health.”

“In Latinx culture, conversations about sexual, vaginal, and period health are considered taboo.”

If you grew up Latinx, you know that these types of conversations are even rarer in our communities. “In Latinx culture, talking about sexual, vaginal, and period health is considered a taboo subject. And that’s largely because our culture sees women as ‘pure, angelic human beings who must save themselves for marriage’.”

But Levy points out that Millennials and Gen Z are changing the way culture is viewed by speaking more openly about these issues. “We need to have the conversation about sexual wellbeing in the Latinx community because we’ve been told for decades that we need to keep these conversations to ourselves,” she says. “When young Latinxs aren’t able to have those conversations, there can be negative health outcomes, simply because Latinxs don’t understand the importance of having those conversations.” A successful way to reach the younger Latina audience reach was social media, especially TikTok.

“Through our social channels, we create an inclusive, accepting community where women can learn and understand these common health issues so they feel less alone and know there are effective solutions like Happy V to help them. Women write to us about how happy they feel about themselves again, have their sex life back and appreciate that we’ve created something that actually works after trying so many different products.”

After posting her personal story with BV and vaginal wellness health tips, Happy V’s content quickly garnered millions of views and likes. “Since then, our videos have continued to reach millions of women worldwide and open conversations about taboo subjects. Hundreds of women are sharing their personal experiences with vaginal health issues because Happy V created a safe space through social media. Happy V’s TikTok effort is tackling uncomfortable topics, which is a huge step forward in breaking down barriers and eliminating stigma associated with women’s health.”

Finally, Levy emphasizes that she wants women to move away from social and cultural norms of being negative about their bodies in terms of sexual health. I want her [women] knowing that it is okay to talk about sexual wellbeing and that you are not alone in whatever you are experiencing with your vaginal and reproductive health. Millions of women in the US are having similar experiences. If we can unite and have more open conversations about these issues, we will be better both mentally and physically. Additionally, we need to normalize conversations about sexual wellbeing so that the next generation of young women feel empowered to understand their bodies, communicate about them, and continue to advocate for change in this category.”

Image Source: Happy V

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