One day not too long ago I started my period. I hauled myself to the bathroom and opened up a new box of pads when I noticed something different. I took a sniff inside the box and, sure enough, there was a light flowery scent emanating from the pads. I flipped the box over and after a bit of searching found the teeny-tiniest font confirming that I had unwittingly purchased a box of scented pads.
I was annoyed for two reasons. One, the miniscule font seemed like some kind of ploy to ensure that I would buy scented pads instead of the unscented ones. Secondly, and far more important, I think that scented pads are evil. Okay, maybe evil is a bit much, but scented pads and tampons (along with their diabolical cousins, vaginal wash) are a product that reinforces the negative stereotype that women’s genitals are dirty and smelly.
Ladies, there is nothing wrong with the way you smell! Let’s get a few things straight. All women have a natural vaginal scent. It can become stronger or weaker throughout your monthly cycle and that is totally normal. As long as you are maintaining your personal hygiene, there is a 99% chance that your natural scent is a healthy and alluring one.
So why are we being made to feel like it’s unclean and just plain nasty? Why are so many of us still buying into the myth that our vaginas should smell like “fresh rain” or a bouquet of flowers? Ironically, the very products that are supposed to help us smell better are more likely to leave ladies with a very nasty smell due to the infections that they can cause from either upsetting the vagina’s natural pH balance (I’m looking at you, douches) or acting as an irritant. I’m still not sure why these products haven’t been banned yet but the one thing I can say with certainty is that you should stay away from them.
One final thing, if you are convinced that your vagina really does smell awful, go see your doctor. There are numerous problems that can cause a foul odor ranging from a simple yeast infection to bacterial vaginosis and you aren’t going to find a solution for it in the bottom of a bottle. In the meantime, try to remember the words of the great Eve Ensler: “My vagina doesn’t need to be cleaned up. It smells good already. Don’t try to decorate. Don’t believe him when he tells you it smells like rose petals when it’s supposed to smell like pussy.”