A HAPPY VULVA - WHAT SHOULD IT SMELL LIKE?
Most people believe that vaginal cleansing products are necessary for vaginal hygiene. However, do we REALLY need to smell like roses down there?
First, let’s recap some basic anatomy. The vagina is a tube of muscle inside the body that runs from the neck of the uterus (cervix) to the vaginal opening. The external sex organs, which are called the vulva, surround the vaginal opening and include: the labia major (outer lips), the labia minora (inner lips), the clitoris and the clitoral hood.
The vagina, as any internal organ is self-cleaning – so it doesn’t need any kind of cleaning product. In fact, washing the vagina with douches or similar products can affect your vagina’s ability to clean itself. Your vagina is designed to naturally maintain a healthy, slightly acidic pH balance. It’s also filled with bacteria, or vaginal flora, that help stop infections and prevent irritationsSome risks of vaginal cleaning methods include:
- cervical cancer
- yeast infections
- vaginal discomfort or pain
While you shouldn’t wash your vagina, it may be a good idea to wash your vulva. The best way to do it is by using warm water and gentle soap. You don’t even need special soaps to clean your vulva “clean” or “fresh” as they may irritate the delicate skin of your vulva.
But then, how do I deal with the odor?
Every vagina has its own unique scent, and you shouldn’t feel ashamed about it (yes, we’re looking at you Gwyneth Paltrow). Vaginas are supposed to smell like vaginas. However, if it'll make you feel cleaner and therefore more confident with yourself cleaning your vulva gently by using an unscented pH-balanced wash.
When should I see a doctor?
Visit your gynecologist if you spot unpleasant odors or if you experience an abnormal discharge or irritation.
People can help keep the area clean and healthy by:
- Wiping from front to back after going to the toilet.
- Using soft toilet tissue.
- Avoiding perfumed soaps, gels, tampons or pads as they can affect the pH levels in the vagina and cause irritation.
- Using paraben-free lube.
- Wearing breathable cotton underwear at night (or nothing at all!).
The take-home message? Don’t overdo it. They don´t call the vagina a ‘Self-Clean Oven’ for nothing!