Dear Dr. Kate,
I’m STD and yeast infection free, but I just don’t like the way I smell down there. Are feminine washes and douches really as bad as I hear? What else can I do to help freshen things up?
– In a Funk
Short answer: YES. Douches and the like are exactly as bad as you’ve heard. Spraying chemicals into your vagina only throws off the bacteria balance and puts you at risk of a vaginal infection or more discharge. Plus, if you douche, you’re pushing bacteria up into your cervix and uterus, increasing the risk of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.
I bet your vagina smells the way it’s supposed to smell — like a vagina. Not a spring meadow, or a summer’s breeze (what does that even mean, anyway?). The only thing you need for vulvar hygiene is a regular shower and mild soap (I like Aveeno and Dove, but anything without a lot of chemicals). You can experiment with changing your diet — some women find that by changing how much fruit and veggies they eat, or by eating less meat, they change their odor or taste. It’s certainly less risky than a douche. Here are some earlier posts from this site that may also help you:
- Help! Something’s Off Down There
- How Can I Smell and Taste Better Down There?
- What Do Vulvas Taste Like?
– Dr. Kate
Dr. Kate is an OB/GYN at one of the largest teaching hospitals in New York City. She also lectures nationally on womenâ€™s health issues and conducts research on reproductive health. Check out more of her advice and ask her a question at Gynotalk.com.