“My favorite part is affecting women. With my practice, it is comfortable medicine, it is relatable medicine,” explained Atlanta-based obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Tosha Rogers. Originally hailing from Philadelphia, Rogers is a Drexel University graduate and obtained her D.O degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. She opened her practice in hopes of not only medical assistance, but overall life and well-being assistance.
Dr. Rogers has an unwavering devotion to her high-profile Atlanta clients. Visits to her office are open and inviting for discussions about anything – life, love, career, health, etc. And that same passion flows into the community in which she is situated. That’s why she began her nonprofit organization Sisters, Caring & Sharing, Inc. where she mentors young inner city women ages 12 to 17 on their health, and career opportunities.
“With Atlanta being the mecca, and a very very prosperous area for women especially, I thought that it would be awesome to say let’s pair these ladies who have done it with young ladies who are trying to do it,” Dr. Rogers explained, “If you’re a little girl and you’re sitting in the middle of the ghetto or your family is going through some financial problems, and you see a doctor. In your mind, ‘I can’t do that, I don’t have the money. I can’t even pay for this test, how am I gonna pay for this and how am I gonna pay for that?’”
Dr. Rogers stresses these things can happen one step at a time, but that is something inner city women struggle to recognize. She gave an analogy which compared their obstacles to one big rock compiled of smaller rocks. Looking at the big picture, it is intimidating and seems nearly impossible to make it over the rock mountain. But, when taken one rock at a time, you’ll reach your goals.
“It’s very important they have somebody to say ‘stop, breathe, take one test at a time, take on class at a time, take on semester at a time, and you’ll get where you’re going’… If you look at where you are and all you look at is your goal, you’ll miss it. But there are so many steps and so much learning in between. That is when our young ladies need us: to encourage and to keep pushing forward,” Dr. Rogers said.
Through her practice and nonprofit, Dr. Rogers aims to educate, uplift, and empower women, within her Atlanta community especially. We had the lovely opportunity to discuss Sisters, Sharing & Caring, Inc, and essential sexual health knowledge.
B: What are some tips for keeping up with your sexual health?
Dr. Rogers: “Take care of yourself. Don’t put yourself second. Don’t wait. Don’t be afraid of a diagnosis… Women are infamous for brushing things under the rug. They’re infamous for not wanting to deal and address things. And we can catch things at stage one, if you don’t want to address, deal, and discuss then it’s going to progress to stage three, four, and five, and then there’s nothing we can do for you.”
B: Are there any key signs that signify that something’s wrong, or do you have to get tested to know?
Dr. Rogers: “Well sometimes you just have to get tested to know, but there are some signs. If you’re bleeding after intercourse, if you have abnormal smell, if the discharge coming out is a lot, if you’re having pain – all of those are simplistic signs saying ‘hey something’s up’. But, often times, there are no signs. That is why regular testing is necessary because your not always able to see what the problem is.”
B: At what age do you recommend people begin going to OBGYN visits?
Dr. Rogers: “It depends on the person because if you’re sexually active, or even if you have questions, it varies. I have some tweeners, who are 12 and 13, they have questions about their period and their bodies and hygiene. They need to see me – it’s not an exam, it’s a discussion. Then I have older teens who are sexually active and they need to understand birth control, and STD prevention, and hygiene, and be tested for STDs. Finally the Pap, which is the cancer screening, that’s to be done 21 and over. So there are different levels of examination, but when questions come about, the body starts to change, sex becomes an issue – all of those are reasons to see the gynecologists.”
B: Other than testing for cancer, what exactly does a Pap test for?
Dr. Rogers: “A pap smear in and of itself tests for cancer, but a full OBGYN exam, which is what most people have and they equate that to a Pap smear, it checks for sexually transmitted diseases as well as vaginitis as well as yeast.”
B: What is vaginitis and how can it happen?
Dr. Rogers: “Bacterial vaginitis is not sexually transmitted and it is what we tend to call an imbalance in the vaginal flora. Essentially, it is when you have behavior that your vagina is not happy with. I tell my patients there are two arms to it, one arm is hygiene, and that’s over hygiene. For my patients, they’re never to use bubble bath, body wash, perfume soaps, deodorant soaps, Summer’s Eve, Vagisil, baby wipes – none of that stuff. [Use] Dove white bar soap on your entire body. Never shampoo your hair in the shower. It can also come from your partner’s semen, and it’s not because of other women or an infection. It’s generally due to supplements they may be taking, their poor diet, [or] they’re lack of nutrition if you’re having unprotected sex. All of those things can create an imbalance in your vagina and it will generally create a thin discharge with a smelly odor.”
B: Why are douching products harmful for your sexual health?
Dr. Rogers: “As far as Summer’s Eve, the chemicals in making it liquid detergent and the chemicals that are in it, it will mask the odor for 24 hours because that’s what it is – it’s like a deodorant. But, it doesn’t fix the problem. When it comes to a vaginitis, nothing is going to fix your problem except an antibiotic because it’s an infection. I teach my patients how to change their habits so that they don’t continue to get it, but Summer’s Eve and pineapples – those are not gonna fix your problems. The best way to have a healthy vagina is to make sure that you have healthy habits, and when you have an infection, you treat the infection, and you’re getting regular examinations.”
B: Are there any foods or a specific diet that promotes better sexual health?
Dr. Rogers: When you eat a lot of processed foods, and sugars and carbohydrates, it increases your risk of getting yeast because yeast eats sugar. So the higher your blood sugar is, the more likely you’re gonna see yeast. But, at the same time, when it comes to any other diet, it really is patient specific because a lot of times some of the physical manifestations you see from eating certain things, it’s because you actually have an allergy to them. People think ‘oh if I’m allergic my throat will swell up, my face will itch’ – not necessarily. Sometimes you’ll bloat, sometimes you’ll have joint pain, sometimes you’ll have discomfort, sometimes you’ll have constipation and you’re actually allergic to something. So it really is patient specific.”
B: Is it safe to shave everything everything?
Dr. Rogers: It doesn’t affect your health. I mean, I think back in the primitive times when we didn’t have underwear, wore fig leaves or things like that, the hair was to protect from bugs going inside from things crawling in, but it’s not necessary and it’s perfectly fine if you’re going to shave. What I usually tell my patients is if [they] wax or shave to put in a tampon and please use raw cotton tampons – no Playtex, no Tampax. The chemicals that are in tampons are the same chemicals that they use to clean swimming pools. And, anytime you put something directly in your vagina, it’s a direct shot into your bloodstream.”
B: What are common misconceptions people have regarding sexual health?
Dr. Rogers: People tend to equate – especially African American girls – STD testing with trust… And I hate to say it, and it’s not about being paranoid, but trust no one. Check everyone, and trust no one. The thing is that women tend to feel like, ‘oh I don’t have any problems so I don’t need to go to the gynecologist’ or ‘I’m not pregnant, so I don’t need to see the doctor’ – that is not true. I recommend my patients come in every year for your testing, for evaluation, for discussion, and for an examination. Every single year.
B: What topics do you believe are missing from the majority of sexual education in schools?
Dr. Rogers: HIV prevention, which is a huge thing. We are making huge strides when it comes to prevention. One pill a day – 90% decrease in contracting HIV. That’s almost saying you take a pill a day you won’t get it – nobody can say 100 percent. Most of the patients I see, don’t know about it. Most of the young ladies don’t know that cervical cancer is sexually transmitted. So a condom is not always about not getting pregnant, a condom is about preventing HIV, preventing other STDs, preventing pregnancy and as well as preventing cancer. And people just don’t know.