Is it normal to have some kind of odour down there?
Yes. A healthy vagina has a slight odour, which may become more noticeable when we sweat, during our period, or after we’ve had sex. Our vaginal odour may also be affected by the food we eat or even the types of lubricants or condoms used during sex. Such odours are usually temporary and will go away in time.
But, can’t we do something to make it less obvious?
If we wish to minimize the odour, try the following:
- Wash ourselves down there at least once a day, while we take our bath. We can wash more frequently when we have our menses. Also, give it a wash after intercourse.
- Use a plain, preferably scent-free soap. Scents and other chemicals may irritate our vagina and disrupt its normal pH.
- While washing, do not forget to also clean the perineum, which is the area between our vulva and our anus.
- Wash the anus last, so that any germs that may be present in the anus will not be transferred to the vagina.
- Wipe thoroughly from front to back after using the toilet to keep bacteria and germs from growing.
- Feminine wipes (preferably unscented and free from alcohol and paraben) are useful for quick and easy “cleaning up” after trips to the toilet, sports and other activities that can make things sweaty down below, during one’s menses and more.
- Change our tampon or pad every 4-6 hours.
- Wear clean, comfortable underwear (preferably made of natural cotton) and loose pants so that we have room to ‘breathe’ down there.
- After a swim, change out of our swimsuit and have a shower as soon as possible.
Should we be worried?
If we just have an unusually strong or “fishy” odour, with no other symptoms, it could be due to the following reasons:
- Poor hygiene. This can be easily rectified, see the tips above.
- Forgotten tampon. We can try gently fishing it out ourselves using two fingers (make sure we wash our hands first!), but if we are not sure how to, or our efforts don’t succeed, our doctor should be able to assist us.
If there are also discharge, irritation and/or pain, these symptoms may indicate an infection or, in rare cases, cervical or vaginal cancer. It is better to be safe and sorry, so we should consult a doctor to look into this matter!