What’s causing the smell down there


YOUR private part naturally produces a discharge, which is a mixture of liquid, cells and bacteria which lubricate and protect your private part. Although your private part has a distinctive smell, it can sometimes produce a slightly offish smell, but this odour should not be ignored as it might signal something serious.


Even though vaginal odour is considered to be normal, some relationships suffer as a result of the smell. You may feel uncomfortable or embarassed about the unsual smell. Your body changes overtime and so does your vaginal scent, which is not always pleasant, especially during your period. Dr Jeanne Aspeling of My Sexual Health says there are a lot of things that come into play when it comes to the odour of your private part and that it doesn’t always mean you are sick. “Any infection can cause vaginal odour, not necessarily only Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), but other bacterial infections. Then there is also your body’s natural sweaty smell, the smell of the detergent you use on your underwear, the smell of the soaps you use and the smell of your vaginal fluid,” says Dr Jeanne. Dr Jireh Serfontein, also from My Sexual Health, adds that it’s normal for a woman to have a slight smell, but it’s abnormal if the odour is offensive. She says a fishy-like smell, for example, is nowhere near normal. “A fishy-like smell is often because of a bacterial infection called bacterial vaginosis or a sexual transmitted infection called Trichomoniasis,” explains Dr Jireh. A bad smell may also be an indicator of cervical cancer, so you need to be concerned.


Here are some common causes of vaginal odour:

¦ Poor hygiene: Hygiene plays a role in ensuring your private part maintains its natural odour, so maintaining good hygiene will improve the smell.

¦ Sweat: Sweat contributes to the odour. Wearing tight clothing and underwear can also result in an unpleasant smell.

¦ Sexual intercourse: During sex, men release alkaline fluids, while women release acidic fluids. The interaction of both may result in a bad odour.

¦ Condom allergies: The bad odour from your private part may be caused by an allergic reaction to a certain material of a condom. It’s advisable to change brands after a few weeks to track the difference when using different makes.

¦ Foods: Strong scented foods such as garlic, onion and fish can affect the odour of your private part.


Dr Jeanne says some natural foods boost the odour of your private part and your overall health. Vegetables such as sweet potato and spinach are said to work wonders for your private part. Spinach is said to get you in the mood and makes sex more pleasurable, while sweet potato strengthens your vaginal walls. “Full cream yoghurt is good, while avoiding sugars can help with recurrent thrush infections. Some women also recommend eating watermelon and pineapple to give your private part a sweet odour,” says Dr Jeanne.

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