Many people don’t know this, but your vagina is ph-balanced. What that means is that there is just the right amount of yeasts and bacterias so that they live in perfect harmony, in a perfectly balanced state so that your vagina is clean and works correctly.
“The robust vagina is an acidic vagina, with a pH of 3.8 to 4.5. That’s somewhat more acidic than black coffee (with a pH of 5) but less piquant than a lemon (pH 2). In fact…the acidity of the vagina in health is just about that of a glass of red wine.” (Woman: An Intimate Geography by Natalie Angier)
However, it’s a very delicate balance and easily upset. You may have heard someone refer to a woman’s smell as “fishy”, but actually, if a woman’s vagina smells fishy that means that she has an infection. To help your vagina stay clean and balanced, just wash with plain, clean water. If you use harsh soaps or douches, this will chemically alter the environment of your vagina and will almost certainly introduce infection.
In the shower, simply open up your labia and let water flow over your vaginal opening. Also, a good soak in the bathtub will do the trick. Some women like to fill a squirt bottle with warm water and squirt around their vagina, especially during their periods, to keep clean. (If you do use a soap, choose something mild and ph-balanced, like Summer’s Eve.)
However, it seems like for all the talk about keeping your vagina ph-balanced, there’s still a strong odor coming from your vagina even when you don’t have an infection. This is because there are sweat glands all around the vaginal opening. Just like your armpits stink when you sweat, your vagina will stink if it sweats and is kept warm and moist under tight clothing.
My OB/GYN has three great tips for dealing with the odor:
- Sleeping without undies will take care of 90% of the problem.
- Change out of your workout clothes after exercising. (My OB recommends putting on a pair of loose cotton shorts, without any underwear, to air dry after exercising.)
- Wear cotton underwear. Cotton allows the most air flow of any fabric, so this will keep things cool and dry. Remember, it’s when things are warm and damp that bacteria and yeast grows.
So…no underwear at night, quickly changing out of moist clothing, cotton undies, along with using clean water to thoroughly clean your vagina, will keep your vagina clean and balanced.
(Photo via Danse de Lune)