Ask Dr. Hilda

Question: My vagina reeks of fish after eating it or any fish products(such as tuna or salmon..). Why does that happen? Does it mean that I have some type of infection or are my hormones just out of control? Please advise. Thanks for taking time out to read this.

Answer: Everything that you eat or drink can affect the scent and taste of your vaginal secretions. Certain metabolites from the food that you eat, travels in your blood stream and are released in your sweat, saliva, urine and vaginal secretions. So when you eat onions, garlic and asparagus, you can expect a change in your scent that might be less than pleasant. Every woman is different and, for you, fish is another culprit. I suggest that you avoid fish for 24 hours before you expect to have sexual intimacy, especially oral sex. Fish is healthy for your brain, heart, and other body parts, so donít give it up. --Dr. Hilda

Question: Hi i am a African American young lady and I have this embarrassing question to ask. I have this musty odor that is coming from my genital area. I take showers regularly, but when I get out of the shower the odor is still there. This odor smells just like an onion and I am feeling very insecure about this problem I have tried powders, soaking , different soaps, eliminating underwear, internal body deodorant and nothing seems to help. Please help me on what I should do about this problem.

Answer: My first suggestion would be to stop all powders, soaps, sprays, andófor heavens sakeóinternal body deodorant! Go see your gynecologist for cultures. If all of your cultures are negative, you donít have an infection. The odor that you describe is probably coming from your vulva. Clip your pubic hair very short or shave. But if you do shave, use an electric clipper (you can buy small disposable ones at the pharmacy) and exfoliate your skin every day with a wash cloth to decrease your chances of hair bumps. Use a hypoallergenic cleansing bar, like Neutrogena clear bars or Dove to wash your vulva. Be sure to wipe between the inner and outer labia or lips. Rinse well and pat dry. Avoid onions, garlic and asparagus. Eat lots of fruit and yogurt, and drink lots of water. No smoking or alcohol. Donít expect to rid yourself of all odor. Every woman, and man, has her/his own unique scent. We are not meant to smell like flowers. Become comfortable with your own unique scent, and stop sniffing your panties. --Dr. Hilda

Question: I have a very personal question. It seems that no matter what I do, I sweat in my vaginal area, which creates this mild smell. Its not to the point where I can smell it when I'm sitting down but I definitely can when I use the bathroom. It concerns me just a little bit because I had my son 7 months ago and two months after that I asked my OBGYN for the Mirena IUD. I have to admit that I am little embarrassed that I don't quite know when this started. I am also in the process of changing my diet, which includes in drinking at least 1 liter of water a day. Is there anything that I can do to prevent or get rid of the smell.

Answer: You don't describe the odor, but if it is foul, you should see your doctor for a culture. The most common cause of a bad vaginal odor is an infection caused by an overgrowth of normal vaginal bacteria. Of course, every woman has her own natural scent. This scent is not foul or distasteful, and can change during different phases of your monthly menstrual cycle. The odor may also be changed by what you eat, drink, or smoke. You may have more odor from your vulva when you sweat because the increased moisture down there makes it easier for bacteria to grow. You can decrease the odor by shaving or clipping the pubic hair short. The pubic hair helps to hold the secretions and moisture. And when you don't absolutely have to wear panties, don't. Certainly don't wear panties to bed. And if all fails, carry unscented diaper wipes with you and wipe your vulva clean each time you go to the bathroom. --Dr. Hilda

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