A while ago, I was talking to a woman who was expecting her other half, who was visiting from outside the country. She was talking about how that one of the ways she was preparing for him, was to douche. She had this incredibly strong vaginal wash, meant for that purpose. And she was adamant that it would take away smells and discharges. When I asked her about drying out and other attendant issues, she said, “Oh well, I don’t use it everyday, so it should be fine.” Besides, she was more interested in ensuring there was absolutely no smell, than in the possible cummulative effects.
Bodily smells can be embarrassing. Some more than others, because they are overpowering or unusual. Then, there are those that are embarrassing, because of where they are coming from.
Imagine taking off your sexy underwear, only to have a fishy smell pervade the atmosphere. That can be bad enough, when you’re by yourself; imagine this happening, when you’re trying to get intimate with someone else.
Or your friends tell you that your used sanitary towels have a more-than-average stink.
Some people don’t have to imagine it; it’s a painful reality of their daily life. Or maybe someone you know, is dealing with this right now.
Although the vagina is not normally odourless, certain vaginal smells are unusual and indicate that something is wrong (for instance, you may have an infection). Abnormal smells will usually be accompanied by vaginal discharge, irritation, itching and/or burning.
I found reasons for abnormal vaginal smells to include:
– sexually transmitted diseases; this includes trichomoniasis, whose symptoms may include fishy smell, yellow or green frothy discharge, and burning sensation during sexual intercourse or urinating
– bacterial vaginosis; this is basically an inflammation caused by an overgrowth of the usually-occurring bacteria in the vagina, characterised by a fishy smell, white or gray discharge and a burning sensation while urinating or during sex
– poor hygiene
– cancer (of the cervix or of the vagina)
– hormonal changes, including menopause
– rectovaginal fistula; this is an abnormal opening/passageway between the rectum and the vagina
– medication, including antibiotics
– some condoms and lubricants will contribute to a smell of bleach
– poor diet
– forgotten tampons (I found particularly worrying)
– wearing tight clothing or being overweight (because these would trap sweat)
– yeast infection, which may be characterised by the smell of warm bread
Apart from (or because of) the fact that vaginal smells can affect your sex life, it can also affect your self-esteem. Thankfully, there are solutions:
– Wear clean underwear that prevent the build-up of sweat
– Bathe and change your clothes, regularly!
– Watch what you eat. People have different metabolisms, so certain foods might have an effect on the smells coming from us
– Do not douche! It might be tempting to get rid of any smell, but douching will strip your vagina of natural bacteria, which actually help to prevent infection
– Avoid quacks and backyard or roadside doctors and ‘chemists’ like the plague they are. I cannot tell you how horrified I get, each time I hear a voice over a gramophone from a van, where the speaker (who obviously have NO medical training) is telling everyone within earshot, to buy one concoction or the other, to take care of vaginal smells and infections
– As you can probably guess by now, and as I’ve said in the infertility series, I am not a fan of self-diagnosis; talk to your gynaecologist
If you’ve had to deal with vaginal smells, did any of the above tips work for you?
Let me know in the comment section below!
DISCLAIMER: The afore-mentioned information is not intended to replace consultation with a physician or to diagnose or treat any condition. Please, see your doctor without delay if you have any symptoms that you are unsure of. Do not stop taking any prescribed medication or start any lifestyle changes without your own doctor’s supervision.