As you've probably noticed, puberty comes with all kinds of changes — including the way your body looks and even the way you might think it smells. These changes are a normal part of becoming a woman, but lots of girls worry about them.
Many girls wonder if they smell "down there" — or whether people will notice they have their periods. And some girls wonder if they should use douches, wipes, or any of the other products that claim to make women feel cleaner and fresher. But do these work? And does a girl really need them?
The truth is that, under normal circumstances, no one ever smells any odors from a girl's vagina. If a girl has an infection, such as bacterial vaginosis, she may notice an unpleasant fishy odor, in which case she should definitely see a doctor. But even then, it's unlikely that people around her will notice a smell.
As far as periods go, if you change your pads or tampons frequently, shower or bathe daily, and wear clean clothes, no one can smell that either.
Douches, feminine sprays, deodorants, or wipes supposedly keep a woman's vaginal area smelling fresh and clean. Douching (the name comes from the French word for "wash") refers to washing out the vagina, usually with a prepackaged mix of fluids. Unless a doctor tells you to, you should not douche. Douching can cause allergic reactions, irritation, and even infections.
Feminine sprays, deodorants, and scented tampons aren't a good idea either. They are often heavily perfumed and, like douching, can lead to allergic reactions, irritation, and infections. Your vagina has its own natural cleaning system that flushes out bacteria, so you don't need to add any chemicals to help it.
When it comes to odors caused by infections, the treatment is not a spray, but a prescription medication that treats the infection rather than covering it up. If you notice a bad smell or think you may have an infection, see a doctor or gynecologist right away.
It's easy to keep your vagina clean without making it smell like a flower shop. Washing every day with a mild soap and plenty of warm water will do the trick. Shower daily — although some girls like to substitute warm baths during their periods to reduce menstrual cramps.
Wearing cotton underwear, especially in hot weather, can help a girl feel fresher because cotton and other natural fibers are more breathable.
During your period, change your pads or tampons often. It may be a good idea to keep a spare pair of underwear in your backpack to change into in case you happen to soak through your pad or tampon.
Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: August 2013
|Planned Parenthood Info for Teens This site from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America has information on relationships and sexual health for teens.|
|GirlsHealth.gov GirlsHealth.gov, developed by the U.S. Office on Women's Health, offers girls between the ages of 10 and 16 information about growing up, food and fitness, and relationships.|
|Go Ask Alice! Go Ask Alice! is Columbia University's health question and answer service. It offers open and frank discussions of sensitive topics.|
|Hair Removal You can buy dozens of products for getting rid of unwanted hair. How do they work? And how do you use them?|
|Body Image and Self-Esteem When your body changes, so can your image of yourself. Find out how your body image affects your self-esteem and what you can do.|
|Am I Still a Virgin If I Use a Tampon? Many girls worry that if they use a tampon, they will no longer be virgins. Get the answer to this question here.|
|Everything You Wanted to Know About Puberty Voice cracking? Clothes don't fit? Puberty can be a confusing time, but learning about it doesn't have to be. Read all about it.|
|What Can I Do About Sweating? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|Vaginal Discharge: What's Normal, What's Not Normal vaginal discharge has several purposes: cleaning and moistening the vagina and helping to prevent infections. But sometimes discharge indicates there's a problem. Get the facts on what's normal and what's not.|
|Hygiene Basics Puberty causes all kinds of changes in your body - and some may not make you feel very desirable. Read this article for information on dealing with greasy hair, perspiration, and body hair.|
|What Causes Bad Breath? Bad breath, or halitosis, can be a major problem, especially when you're about to snuggle with your sweetie or whisper a joke to your friend. The good news is that bad breath often can be easily prevented.|
|Why Do I Sweat So Much? Are you worried that you may sweat too much? Find out why sweating is normal - and what you can do about it.|
|All About Menstruation Periods can be confusing. Get the facts in this article for teens.|
|When Is it Time to Start Seeing a Gynecologist? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|Tampons, Pads, and Other Period Supplies When it comes to pads and tampons, there are lots of choices. It may take some experimenting before you find what works best for you. Here are some tips.|
|Can I Prevent Acne? Although there is no surefire way to prevent acne, there are several ways to help reduce the number and severity of your breakouts. Read this article to find out more.|
What to expect when coming to Akron Children's
For healthcare providers and nurses
Residency & Fellowships, Medical Students, Nursing and Allied Health
For prospective employees and career-seekers
Our online community that provides inspirational stories and helpful information.