How can you tell if your particular intimate odour is healthy, and what can you do to diminish smells? Lady Friday has all the info you need…
Every woman’s intimate area has a smell. The reason? It’s a live body part, not a squeaky-clean Barbie doll.
However, the smell shouldn’t be strong enough to make you self-conscious. If it is, you need to find help – but not where you might think.
The biggest culprits are infections. If the smell is strong and fishy, accompanied by whitish-grey discharge, strong chances are you have bacterial vaginosis (BV). It’s treated by antibiotics, and can be quickly tested for in clinics.
If the smell is fishy but accompanied by a discharge that happens to be yellow or green, then you may have trichomoniasis, an STI caused by parasites. If it seems artificial or chemical-ish, it probably is – that’s residue from condoms and lubricants.
And yeast infections, or thrush, smell – unsurprisingly – of bread.
However, if it’s nothing abnormal and you’re just self-conscious about your own, natural bodily odour, here are steps to take.
1. Avoid perfumes, heavily scented soaps and antiseptics.
Putting chemicals on delicate areas is never a good idea at the best of times. The source of the smell is not outside – it’s inside, and masking it with washes and scents is not a lasting solution.
It’s also liable to make things worse, as scented soaps and perfumed shampoos are often the culprits behind BV. Stick with very gentle, non-allergenic soap and water.
2. Regard ‘vaginal scent products’ and douches with extreme caution.
I know it can be very tempting to splurge on products that promise you’ll smell like a daisy continually.
However, anything that claims to clean you from the inside out is actually destroying the careful balance of chemistry inside your vagina. Intimate areas are meant to smell like women, not like artificial scent.
Douches are also not helpful – they were popular in the 1950s, which should tell you something about just how advanced and useful they are. They just strip everything out, including all the helpful chemical arrangements that prevent infection and keep things lubricated. Avoid, please.
3. Revamp your lifestyle and see if it helps.
Tight clothing and washing far too much can be the culprits behind odour changes, as can sweating a great deal.
Also take a look at your diet. Citrus is often touted as a way to turn the vagina into a sweeter experience, while alcohol, garlic, asparagus and red meat are cited as bad influences. However, it’s not clear whether any change will be visible unless you ingest enough for it to be unhealthy.
Don’t stop exercising just because it makes you sweat and smell – just shower afterwards. Wearing cotton underwear or none at all at night is also a healthy choice.
And no, shaving versus non-shaving makes no difference to vaginal odour at all.
4. Know that sometimes these things happen naturally.
Changes in vaginal odour are common around your cycle. The change on your period is obvious, but there are more subtle changes al the time.
It’s most attractive to men, according to science, when you’re bang on mid-cycle, and smells the least when you’re ovulating and just before. Menopause and pregnancy also have implications for intimate smells – it should be something you discuss with your GP or gyno when these events happen.
And relax – chances are, it’s not nearly as noticeable or as awful as you’re imagining it to be. Go see your doctor and don’t be embarrassed!
Lady Friday xx
Taking the pillow talk out of the bedroom, every Friday…