A common myth is that it’s a sign of poor personal hygiene. Here’s the real story.
1. First off, forget the jokes. As women, we’ve been socialized to be embarrassed by our lady parts, and that’s a real shame. I wish we could all go back to 7th grade and slap those teasing boys silly. And their dumb fishy jokes, too. Vaginas have a scent. So what.
2. Don’t douche. Douching can introduce new bacteria into the vagina, as well as increase the spread of bacteria. Your vaginal flora is in delicate balance, and introducing outside agents can disrupt this—leading to a host of itchy, uncomfortable problems, like yeast infections.
3. Your vagina is like a self-cleaning oven. Really. Your natural vaginal discharge flushes out bacteria and excess water from inside. As you go about your everyday business, your vagina is going about its business. Cool!
4. Every vagina has an odor. And what’s more, your lady bits probably tend to smell a little different at different times in your monthly cycle. That’s completely normal. Only when an odor becomes strong or fishy is it a sign of possible infection.
5. Get some air down there. Wearing underwear, thongs or pants that are too tight not only can cause irritation… but also can lead to a buildup of bacteria, which can have an odor. Your vagina needs air to breathe and prevent infection. Give your privates adequate breathing room by wearing light underwear. Try going commando, even, from time to time.
6. Careful what you’re cleaning with. It’s important to wash the outside area of your vagina, including the folds of your labia, with a scent-free soap, feminine wash or feminine cloth. Look for feminine moisturizing and cleansing cloths, which are better for you than baby wipes because they’re pH-balanced to support your delicate vaginal balance and made with soothing botanicals.
7. Hair care. Natural is beautiful, but a little trim maintenance can help minimize odor and risk of collecting bacteria.
8. Watch out for infection. Yeast infections are very common and can be caused by a buildup of bacteria from exercise, sex or a number of things. One sign of a yeast infection can be odor. Odor can also be a symptom of a sexually transmitted disease. Get it checked out with a doctor.
9. Not all bacteria are bad. You need good bacteria, like lactobacilli to fight off infectious bacteria. Don’t wash excessively, as this can eliminate the necessary good bacteria.
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