When talking to patients about vulvar care there are some comments that send red flags for pelvic health therapist’s: I wear a daily panty liner just in case, I use scented wet wipes to stay fresh, and take a long bubble bath at night. These three are some of but not all of the poor hygienic habits that we hear from patients. A lot of women are concerned about odour in the vaginal area and use the above things for prevention. Believe it or not these mechanisms of over cleaning actually can evoke smell and worst of all irritation, infection and discomfort.
The vagina is a self-cleaning oven. It is masterly designed to maintain a naturally acidic pH that allows for the thriving of good bacteria and the prevention of bad bacteria entering. This natural acidic pH prevents unpleasant odours.
Discharge is normal! Clear or white secretions are normal as part of the menstrual cycle. In saying this, healthy discharge does not have a strong smell or colour, so if this is the case an investigation may be merited.
Perfumed body washes, vaginal washes, soaps, etc can affect this delicate pH balance and cause irritation. The discharge is the vagina’s way of cleaning itself and it has been designed to do it well. Daily washing of the vulva (the area outside and around the vagina) with gentle, unperfumed soaps is all the cleansing needed.
Please keep in mind that some women will have no issue with the items mentioned above. But if you are having issues with irritation, recurrent infection, or odour, there may a need for you to revamp your cleaning regimen.