All Articles Tagged "vaginal odor"
Q: When it comes to vaginal odor, what’s normal and how can you improve your smell?
It is important to talk not only about vaginal odor but also vaginal discharge because that is what usually causes the odor you smell. It is quite normal to have vaginal discharge because it helps in lubricating your female parts and acts as a “cleaner” to help remove cells and bacteria from your system. Usually, vaginal discharge can be clear, white or light yellow in color. Things like sex, diet, your menstrual cycle, contraceptive use, pregnancy, antibiotics, and the use of hygiene products can influence the colors and the odor of vaginal discharge. Just like your breath or your feet, having a certain mild odor from your vagina can be normal.
When should you be concerned and how do you improve the smell?
First of all, you know your body. If you smell vaginal odor that is stronger than what you feel is normal, it may just be the body telling you that something is wrong. There are certain smells that have been linked to certain infections. For example, usually if your vagina starts to smell “fishy,” it is likely because of an overgrowth of a certain bacteria that causes an infection called bacterial vaginosis. In addition, symptoms such as itching, burning, redness, soreness, greenish-yellow discharge, bleeding, pain with sex, stomach pain, or pelvic pain suggest that you are dealing with something not normal. If this is the case, talk to your doctor about it. It might be an infection that needs to be treated or may signal something else of concern with your female parts.
It is common practice to use feminine hygiene products or to douche the smell away. Douching changes the delicate balance and ph of your vagina, which potentially leads to an overgrowth of infection-causing bacteria (eg, yeast infection). Overall, douching is not a good option for vaginal odors as it can cause or make worse any infection within your female parts.
However, there are other ways to keep your vagina healthy and prevent any smell from occurring. First of all, it is best to use water or unscented non-soap cleanser to clean your female parts. Don’t be afraid to use your hands to wash your “va jay jay.” Try to avoid using washcloths. When you go to the bathroom, wipe from front to back to avoid spreading bacteria from your butt region to your vagina. Either rinse your female parts with water or pat it dry after going to the bathroom. Try to avoid using scented products as it can irritate your female parts or potentially cause an infection. Wear cotton or cotton-lined underwear to keep the area cool. Avoid tight pants and skip the pantyhose in the summer. Lastly, as certain STDs (eg, gonorrhea, Chlamydia) can also cause a smell “down there,” practicing safe sex will help reduce the risk of getting these diseases, and ultimately, getting a certain smell from them.
Last night, my sister and I were watching TV when some type of feminine hygiene commercial came on. In the commercial the women were dispelling myths about their periods. All of the myths were indeed false, until one woman said, “I used to think that people would be able to smell my period.” Immediately, I looked over at my sister. There was some truth behind that myth. If you wash properly and there are no other vaginal health issues, then people shouldn’t be able to smell your period. But, if you neglect your personal hygiene, there’s a good chance the funk might hit the fan…like literally.
If you don’t believe this is true, check out this absolutely humiliating story about a woman who woke up late for work and didn’t shower in the morning, though she was on her period. Here’s how her day at the office played out.
Suddenly, Corynne noticed something was amiss. It smelled like an “animal died.” I didn’t smell it. Funny how that works. Corynne was screaming how bad it smelled. “It’s coming in waves,” Olivia said…But then I did smell it. We moved around, and strangely, wherever I moved, we had pinpointed and isolated the spot!.. It was my period-blood-overflowing vagina all along…
She didn’t realize it was her period blood until she went home and used the restroom.
And then — AS ONE DOES — I went to the bathroom. That’s when I nearly passed out at the smell of my now near-toxic-fumes-level of massive menstruation…
In this woman’s defense, she mentioned that up until that day, her flow was too light so she took a supplement to increase blood flow. Well she certainly, got more than she bargained for. And though her story is a bit of a hot mess, there’s a lesson to be learned here. The lesson is when you’re on your period, wash your vadge, two or three times a day if you have to and change your napkin or tampon often. Hopefully, these are lessons we learned right around puberty when our mothers handed us our first sanitary napkin. I know in my house, my mother warned me about vaginal odor saying, “By the time you smell yourself, someone else has already smelled you.” I don’t know how true that is; I’d like to think if my vadge stinks, I’d be the first to know. But I can understand why she said it. It was a warning not to be caught slippin.’ Don’t be foul.
If however, you found that you were one of the coworkers in the situation above and you knew that the odor was coming from your coworker’s pants, how would you handle it?
Would you pull her aside? Would you ignore it or would you wait until she left the room and talk about her with the other employees? If you would tell her, how would you go about having that conversation? What would you say to make her aware of the issue without humiliating her anymore than necessary? Do tell.