DOCTOR EXPLAINS WHY YOUR VAGINAL PH MATTERS
It’s not something you really sit around talking about, but the smell of your vagina actually tells you a lot about your health.
Every woman is different so there is naturally a fluctuation in smell, impacted in part by your diet, your hygiene and bathroom habits and what underwear you wear.
What most people don’t know is every vagina has a baseline smell, and also secretes pheromones that are perfectly normal and meant to trigger sexual interest.
There should be a healthy musky scent to it – sort of like when you work out in the gym and build up a sweat – that’s your ‘signature’ smell, according to hormone expert Alisa Vitti.
Writing in MindBodyGreen Alisa explains that every woman needs to know their ‘normal’ scent to tell if anything is wrong.
What you shouldn’t smell
Mary Jane Minkin M.D, clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale University School of Medicine, says it’s hard to describe what your vagina should smell like, but very easy to know when something is wrong.
Speaking to Yourtango she said: “The vagina shouldn’t smell like rotten fish or anything rotting…The odor folks [describe] is from bacterial vaginosis, which is really an imbalance of good guy and bad guy bacteria (the bad guys are the anaerobic bacteria which tend to be overgrowing, and anaerobes classically produce a foul or rotting type odor).”
Remember your vagina will smell differently when you’re on your period and after sex. It’s also important to remember that your vagina is self cleaning so naturally produces discharge to eject germs.
If discharge changes in colour it’s also a way to know something is up. You want white with a little yellow, if this changes to grey or brighter yellow or green you need to get it checked. If it becomes itchy you also need to go to the doctor.
Now you know what’s ‘normal’ you can take a few steps to keeping everything healthy downstairs.
1. Bacterial balance
A healthy gut is key, which means keeping bacteria in balance. Eating alkaline-rich foods like lemons of leafy greens helps detox your system as well keeping your scent sweet.
Foods that could be causing you harm include animal proteins, sugar, dairy and sadly, coffee. They all have a negative impact on your microbiome (the microorganisms in an area) – and therefore your scent.
2. Underwear upgrade
If you spend the night in your undies all the time it could be an issue. It’s time to rethink your bedtime clothes.
Alisa recommended sleeping at least half the month sans pants to allow your area to breathe. When you do wear undies to bed choose cotton or a breathable fabric. Thongs are all well and good, but often synthetic or lacy which isn’t so great for your vagina.
3. Steer clear of products
A lot of people use products to ‘clean’ the area, but it’s best to stay away from the fancy bath salts and perfumed creams. Stay away from products and instead use just water or products with a more PH-balancing affect. There’s a few companies that specialise in such products, with wipes and tampons specifically created for this purpose.
4. Check your hormone levels
If you’ve had health issues recently it could be the time to check down there. Looking at what your ingesting is a good start. Are you on the pill? Or using a ring or intrauterine device (IUD)? Synthetic horomones can disrupt your microbiome leading to infections. Experts recommend D-mannose supplements, a simple type of sugar shown to be as effective as antibiotics in some cases. As a bonus it helps prevent recurring UTIs and ‘funny’ smells’.
5. Think about sex…
As in what you’re using. According to Alisa, the golden rule is if it doesn’t go in your mouth, don’t put it in your vagina. Use products with all natural ingredients. There’s also Aloe Cadabra which acts as a moisturiser. It’ll help keep your vagina healthy and smelling better.
Of course there are more ways to check if your vagina is healthy, from checking your period – there are apps for this – to looking at how your skin changes month to month. Keeping an eye on all these things, your diet and lifestyle means you can stay on top of your vagina health.
If anything sends up a red flag you should see your doctor.