Throughout history, myths and misconceptions about vaginas have persisted. In the past, there were scary stories about vaginas having teeth, and in the 20th century, sexist advertisements falsely claimed that women needed to douche to keep their husbands. The abundance of false information surrounding vaginas can be harmful, as many people believe these myths. While some may dismiss these ideas as absurd, they can have genuine and harmful effects when people taken seriously. So here are some myths about vaginas that people should know the truth about.
The Vagina should have natural, mild odor, not fruity or flowery scent
For many years, companies selling feminine hygiene products have exploited the misleading idea that vaginas are inherently unclean and need to be rid of their natural scent using scented douches, washes, wipes, and more. In reality, the vagina is designed to clean itself naturally, and using harsh products can actually be harmful.
The vagina has its own self-cleaning mechanism with healthy bacteria that help maintain its well-being. These bacteria naturally give it a mild odor, which is entirely normal. Unlike flowers, fruits, or anything else, your vagina should smell like vagina. Trying to clean your vagina by douching or using extra cleansers such as feminine hygiene products can disrupt this natural balance and lead to infections like bacterial vaginosis or yeast infections. To avoid these issues, it's best to only use plain, unscented soap to wash the vulva.
Vaginal discharge does not necessarily mean you have an unhealthy vagina
Vaginal discharge is the result of fluid produced by glands within your vagina and cervix. These glands generate small quantities of fluid, often referred to as vaginal secretions. This fluid is expelled from the vagina on a daily basis, helping to remove old vaginal cells that have lined the vaginal walls. It's an entirely natural process and a vital part of your body's effort to maintain the health and cleanliness of your vagina. Additionally, the characteristics of this discharge can serve as an indicator of your vaginal health, potentially signaling imbalances in the beneficial bacteria within your vagina, which could signify an underlying issue.
"Discharge is expected from most women. Particularly mid-cycle when they're ovulating, they're going to have more discharge - it's a little more slimy and mucusy and clear. Some people also get a little bit of a discharge right before their period and as their period is ending. So most women, over the years, are going to get accustomed to what's normal for them." said gynecologist Alyssa Dweck, author of "The Complete A to Z for your V."
Pubic hair should not necessarily be shaved or waxed for vaginal cleanliness
Pubic hair is the densest type of hair on the body, and the skin in this area is quite sensitive, it's advisable to let the hair remain in its natural state around the vaginal area because pubic hairs serve a protective purpose. They act as a shield, guarding the vagina against harmful bacteria and pheromones. Pubic hair acts as the initial defense against potential intruders that could lead to discomfort, irritation, or infections. However, if you shave too closely to the skin, it can result in itching and irritation, particularly if your skin is sensitive.
Specialized products are unnecessary for maintaining vaginal health. The natural microbial balance in your vagina serves as its most effective defense against infections and related issues. Nevertheless, if you encounter uncommon symptoms like unusual discharge, odor, itchiness, irregular vaginal bleeding, or discomfort during sexual activity or urination, it's advisable to consult a reliable healthcare provider to address these concerns.