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How a Hunch Led to The Birth of Lume Deodorant

How a Hunch Led to The Birth of Lume Deodorant

by Sarah Thomas

What’s the story of how Lume was born?

TL;DR? Shannon tells the story in 1 minute and 22 seconds. But do read on for more details!

It all started when Dr. Shannon Klingman was doing her second year of residency and was focused on gynecology. You may have heard tales of medical residency and the exhausting schedules residents keep. Shannon was no exception and was seeing up to 50 patients per day, sometimes staying at the clinic for 2 days in a row without a break.

What she saw repeatedly: Women would come in and express concerns about odor below the belt. Specifically, odor that was a bit on the fishy side. Assumptions were made that odors they were describing were due to an infection called bacterial vaginosis (also referred to as bacterial vaginitis), and women would go home with a prescription antibiotic.

What is Bacterial Vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis is an infection that happens when bacteria that are normally present in the vagina are out of balance. That can happen for a number of reasons.

Symptoms are uncomfortable and may include:

  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Change in discharge
  • Distinctive fishy odor
  • Pain with intercourse
  • Fever

One of the criteria for determining whether a woman has BV is the Whiff test. Drops of potassium hydroxide are added to a sample of vaginal fluid, and if the resulting odor is sharp and fishy, it can indicate a positive diagnosis for BV.

BV is a very common diagnosis, but Dr. Klingman was noticing that it was, perhaps, a bit too common. According to Shannon, “You would have thought that every woman in America had BV at the rate prescriptions were being written.”

And it’s not just once. When the odor inevitably returns, the patient calls the doctor - and the assumption is made that the prescription should be renewed. This can cycle sometimes 5 or 6 times per year for some women.

They might as well have had a cookie jar full of antibiotics - “Grab a handful on your way out!”

“It felt like THAT was shaming women.”

Women Deserve Better

It just didn’t feel right to Shannon, she knew women deserved better. When her own personal experiences collided with this dilemma, that’s when the wheels really started turning.

When you are working those crazy resident hours, you don’t have a lot of time for your own needs, and a daily shower can be a luxury not everyone can afford.

At the time of her residency, Shannon and her husband (both OB/GYNs) were working on building their own family. So they were doing what it takes to make that happen! Shannon sometimes noticed an odor from herself that was suspiciously close to the odor which is a red flag for BV, but she knew she didn’t have BV.

So that got her thinking. What if the odor was the result of ordinary living - bacteria on the skin coming into contact with high pH bodily fluids like sweat, semen, urine, and blood.

Is it possible the odor reactions on the outside of our bodies could be similar to the odor from the vagina when someone had BV? Is it possible we are misdiagnosing BV in some cases when the culprit is actually day to day vulvar odor, NOT vaginal odor?

Dr. Klingman hired a lab to study odor molecules to find out if her hunch was correct. (Did you know people can study odor molecules? Heck, did you know there were odor molecules at all?) Guess what the lab discovered?

Odor molecules that form on the outside of our bodies are identical to the odor molecules we find consistent with BV.

Scientific Breakthrough

In other words, Dr. Klingman now had scientific proof that we had all been making incorrect assumptions that vaginas were completely to blame for odor below the belt. Doctors were diagnosing women with infections when in reality, many of these women just had ordinary body odor from living their ordinary lives!

Well, that made Dr. Klingman realize women were in desperate need of a solution for odor below the belt, one that would actually address the problem (and in the meantime, stop throwing shade the vagina’s way!)

ALL odor reactions are a result of bacteria digesting bodily fluids. We are used to blaming sweat for odor in our armpits, but it’s actually bacteria that create the odor. And the same reaction happens wherever bodily fluids show up - whether sweat, blood, urine, or semen.

Odor below the belt is a result of bacteria from our GI tract coming into contact with high pH bodily fluids.

Semen, for example, has a pH of 7- 8. Vulvas have a pH of around 4. So let’s say bacteria from our GI tract migrate a tad and meet up with a bit of semen that has leaked outside the vagina - a very common scenario (semen can leak out of the vagina for hours or even days after intercourse, because gravity).

Bacteria consume the semen, and emit an odor that is exactly the same as the odor identified with BV. One can see why this would cause some confusion. What seems odd, is that it took someone this long to figure this out!

So Dr. Klingman did some serious research and worked for years to create an effective, skin loving deodorant for private parts that would empower women to throw away outdated ideas about “feminine hygiene”. She knew that high pH levels led to odor, so it needed to be pH optimized in order to prevent odor and to be used on sensitive body parts.

Once she had a formula she was happy with she had it tested, and it worked. It worked really well!

Congratulations, it’s a…Whole Body Deodorant!

And that one precious baby has now turned into an outrageously effective, pH optimized odor control family!

Lume Acidified Cleansing Bar and Body Wash

So much more than just cleansers, our acidified bar and body wash are clinically proven to remove odor better than soap and control odor for 24 hours.

Lume Deodorant For Pits, Privates & Beyond

With a Smooth Solid, Invisible Cream Stick, and Invisible Cream Tube, you’ve got Whole Body odor control options in whatever way suits you. Clinically proven to block odor all day, and to control odor for 72 hours.

Lume Acidified Deodorant Wipes

No ordinary baby wipes, these babies are infused with a version of Lume Deodorant and clinically proven to control odor for 24 hours.

If you can’t tell by now, clinically proven is a pretty big deal here at Lume. It’s really important to Dr. Klingman to provide exceptional products that show up in a way that no other products show up. Lume’s clinical testing results reinforce that our products are every bit as good as we say they are.

If you are concerned about odor below the belt, try using Lume Whole Body Deodorant. If odor persists after several days, particularly if it is accompanied by other symptoms of BV like a change in vaginal discharge, you should consult your healthcare professional for diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Sarah Thomas


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