Vaginal Odor After Sex

>> Thursday, November 7, 2013

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Vaginal secretions contain several million bacteria per millimeter. An imbalance of healthy versus unhealthy bacteria can lead to Yeast or Bacterial Vaginitis. We have talked several times about how Bacterial Vaginosis is the most common vaginal infection.

But many of us have noticed an unpleasant odor, not from infections, but rather after unprotected sex. This is normal. It occurs when semen mixes with the Vaginal secretions and releases something called amines. It is these amines that can give off a stale dish rag smell or even a fishy odor. The difference is that, unlike Yeast or Bacterial Vaginitis, it will only last for less than 24 hours (or the odor will go away after you shower and use WaterWorks).

The vagina has to be acidic to keep the abnormal bacteria and yeast from overgrowth. When semen enters the Vagina it will change that acidic pH to an alkaline pH, which changes the vaginal environment. If this imbalance is prolonged, (for example, when we interfere with our body's ability to cleanse and rebalance itself by douching or washing inside our vagina with soap, other chemicals or even lemon juice, vinegar or garlic) then it can turn into a yeast or bacterial vaginitis.

Some women may feel douching cleans them up "down there." It actually changes the acidity of the vagina and promotes the growth of bacteria and yeast infections. It may even increase sexually transmitted diseases by disrupting the vagina's natural defense system.

If douching is done too rigorously, pushing the water up into the vagina with lots of force, it can push bacteria up into the uterus and tubes causing a more serious infection called PID, or pelvic inflammatory disease. PID can become so serious that you will need to be hospitalized, and it may scar the Fallopian tubes - making normal pregnancy impossible. In fact, if the tubes become closed off and scarred, it increases your risk of ectopic and tubal pregnancies which are life threatening. In these cases, most women will need to undergo in vitro fertilization with an infertility specialist to become pregnant.
We have a saying that the vagina is like a self-cleaning oven, and you do not - under any circumstances - need to douche. All of us women are worried about odors down there. We want to smell fresh, especially for our partner during sex. But some women think it is supposed to have this perfumey odor, when, in fact, normal vaginal discharge shouldn’t smell or taste like anything and the outside should just smell clean like good old soap and water.

So the best ways to keep vaginal odors away are to wear breathable, cotton underwear, groom the pubic region, avoid clothing that is too tight, shower after exercising or sweating, and after a shower, dry off thoroughly before putting on clothes. Avoid perfume-scented tampons, because they contain chemicals that can upset the natural balance of the vagina and cause more odor.

Even if you don't have bacterial vaginosis, it's not uncommon to experience a not-so-fresh feeling down below. Foods, such as garlic, onion and asparagus, can also cause vaginal odor, while sweet-smelling fruits, such as pineapple, have been known to freshen things down below.

The bottom line is that WaterWorks is the only product cleared by the United States Food and Drug Administration to get rid of vaginal odor. It is designed to allow tap water to flow through a medical grade stainless steel nozzle, which eliminates unwanted odors without harsh chemicals or perfume cover-ups. The water flows downhill, as opposed to traditional douching, which propels fluid upwards. The stainless steel nozzle is placed in the vagina, and the steel and water come in contact with the wall of the vagina, eliminating foul smells by flushing out odor-causing bacteria.

I hope you have a wonderful week and please stay safe out there.

Dr. Susan Boyd, MD
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