Girl talk: What you need to know about vaginal odour
Does the word ‘vagina’ make you feel uncomfortable? Well you aren’t alone – recent studies have shown that 47 per cent of women feel embarrassed hearing the word vagina1. But come on ladies – our vagina and related feminine issues are completely normal and it’s time we got better at discussing vaginal health.
So today we’re going to be breaking down the stigma around vaginal odour. Vaginal odour is a very common feminine issue, but many women find that their confidence is severely impacted by the topic. Dr. Althea O’Shaughnessy, board certified OB/GYN with a specialty in Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility, provided some clarification around what actually causes vaginal odour.
What causes vaginal odour?
Firstly, let’s address the fact that most vaginas have a natural odour and you don’t need to feel embarrassed by it. There are several reasons vaginal odour may occur and your normal odour can also vary during certain times or activities. According to Dr O’Shaughnessy, “You’re most likely to notice a change in your vaginal odour during your menstrual cycle, right after sex or when you’ve been sweating or working out.”
You might also find that your vaginal odour is affected by unexpected factors. Dr O’Shaughnessy says, “A woman’s normal scent is affected by the natural bacteria that resides in the vagina, medication, your level of hygiene, your bathroom habits, what your glands secrete and your diet. ”
Should I ever be concerned about vaginal odour?
If you’re experiencing a strong, fishy odour, it might be the sign of an abnormality in your vaginal health. “A strong odour like a fishy odour could be abnormal and indicate a problem that you need to talk to your gynaecologist about,” says Dr O’Shaughnessy. “An abnormal vaginal odour can be associated with other vaginal signs and symptoms such as burning, itching, irritation and discharge.”
Dr O’Shaughnessy points to Bacterial Vaginosis, commonly known as BV, as the number one cause of abnormal vaginal odour. “BV is an overgrowth of the bacteria that normally exist in the vagina,” she says. “It is the most common bacterial vaginal infection and causes a distinct fishy odour.”
If you are encountering a strong vaginal scent, Dr O’Shaughnessy suggests you seek the advice of an expert. “The number two cause of abnormal odour is Trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted infection. Again, if you experience a strong abnormal odour, consult your gynaecologist.”
How can I minimise vaginal odour?
As we’ve discussed, some vaginal odour is completely normal and nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. However, there are some women who feel that vaginal odour undermines their confidence during sex or even during their everyday life. And even if they’re self conscious about it, studies show that 42 per cent of women experiencing vaginal odour don’t use any products to treat it2.
That’s where it pays to have a range of intimate care products on hand that will help you to feel confident during those moments of insecurity. Vagisil have been helping women take charge of their feminine health for more than 40 years, and their Fresh Plus range of products help to prevent unwanted vaginal odour.
The Vagisil Fresh Plus Intimate Wash and Fresh Plus Intimate Wipes are formulated with special Odour Control Technology, which doesn’t just mask odour with a fragrance – it actually helps prevent the odour. Plus, the wipes can be thrown in your handbag so that you never have to feel self-conscious while you’re out and about. The Vagisil Fresh Plus Intimate Powder is also perfect for dealing with excess wetness and perspiration as the unique formula absorbs odour and moisture to soothe skin and help prevent irritation. With these products at your disposal, you’ll feel fresh and confident all day long.
1Vagisil US Survey
2 Combe 152-116 Feminine Care Wave 2, January 2016
Do you feel comfortable discussing vaginal health? What other feminine/vaginal health topics would you like us to address?