Dr. Jen Gunter hasn’t shied away from voicing her opinion about recent news pertaining to lady bits — namely, strange cleansing trends with items such as cucumbers and Vicks’ Vaporub.
Now Gunter, a prominent critic of Gwyneth Paltrow’s controversial Goop website, is calling out men who complain about the natural smell of their partner’s genitals, calling it a ‘form of abuse’.
The Canadian gynecologist took to her blog newsletter to urge women not to feel ashamed of their genitals, and to stay away from harmful products that create artificial odors.
She says that store bought cleansers can upset the vagina’s natural pH balance and leave you at a greater risk of infections like gonorrhea and even HIV.
“I once dated a guy who insinuated my vagina did not smell right. He was an a** in other ways too,” she wrote.
“For example, he thought my hair would be better if it were straight. Sadly I took the bait, it wasn’t. He thought I would look better if I dressed a certain way. Again I took the bait. I just felt worse. When it came around to telling me how my vagina could be better it finally clicked that this is a form of control that men often use. Fortunately, I am an appropriately confident vagina expert and I had a light bulb moment and dumped his sorry a**.”
Dr. Gunter went on, further discouraging the use of over the counter products.
“I realize this may border on TMI [too much information], but honestly if it happened to me I bet it has happened to other women,” she wrote. Adding, “the continued proliferation of the what will they insert next, the products on drugstore shelves, and the interest in these posts tells me that I’m probably right.
‘If you think you have a medical condition, see a doctor. If your partner insinuates that an artificial smell is preferable to the smell of a normal vagina they are the one who has an issue.
Telling women how they can be better is a classic way of tapping into body image issues and honestly, in my personal opinion it is a form of abuse.”
VAGINA’S ARE “SELF-CLEANING OVENS”
Dr. Gunter is notorious for her disdain of over the counter vaginal washes and cleansers and stresses that women should be aware that douches are unnecessary – and possibly even dangerous.
She once tweeted: “A vagina takes care of itself. Like a self-cleaning oven.”
In her recent post, she elaborated further: “For what I am sure is the 100th time the vagina needs no cleaning and the vulva needs very little.
I know the array of useless feminine washes and wipes at the drugstore and the drivel spouted by Gwyneth Paltrow via Goop imply otherwise, but I’m the actual expert.”
Dr. Gunter maintains that using anything that upsets the pH balance – including douches, cleanses, steams, and vinegar pH balancing products – has “real potential for harming good bacteria or disrupting the mucosal surface.”
“By damaging lactobacilli and the mucosa, attempts at vaginal cleaning increase a woman’s risk of contracting gonorrhea or HIV if she is exposed,” she said. Adding, “paradoxically, it will also cause odor.”
In an excerpt from Mayo Clinic’s website, experts echo Gunter’s sentiment, writing that it is “normal for your vagina to have a slight odor.” And that it may be “especially noticeable right after having sex.”
However, it states that a strong vaginal odor or “fishy” smell might be abnormal and could indicate a problem.
HOW MUCH VAGINAL ODOR IS TOO MUCH?
It is completely normal for your vagina to have a slight odor. An abnormal vaginal odor that happens because of infection or another problem is usually associated with other vaginal signs and symptoms such as itching, burning, irritation or discharge.
Common causes of abnormal vaginal odor include:
- Bacterial Vaginosis – this is an overgrowth of normally occurring vaginal bacteria and the most common vaginal infection that causes a vaginal odor.
- Trichomoniasis – a sexually transmitted infection – also can lead to vaginal odor
Chlamydia and gonorrhea infections usually don’t cause vaginal odors. Neither do yeast infections.
- Poor hygiene
- A retained or forgotten tampon left in place for several days
Less commonly, the abnormal vaginal odor may result from:
- Rectovaginal fistula (an abnormal opening between the rectum and vagina that allows feces to leak into the vagina)
- Cervical cancer
- Vaginal cancer
If you’re concerned about an abnormal or persistent vaginal odor, see your doctor for a vaginal exam – especially if you have other signs and symptoms such as itching, burning, irritation or discharge.
In the meantime, minimize vaginal odor by cleansing regularly with mild soap.
So, there you have it, ladies. If it doesn’t smell like a fish market, it’s probably ok.
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Source: Mayo Clinic