The vagina is one of the most misunderstood parts of the body. There are countless myths and misconceptions about how it works and how you should take care of it. One feminine hygiene product which often gets a bad rap is the feminine deodorant spray.
You’ve probably seen lots of sprays in the drugstore alongside douches, washes, and wipes. You’ve probably also been warned that you shouldn’t use ANY of these products since even though they claim to make your vagina smell fresh, they are actually bad for you. Opponents often say they exacerbate bacterial infections or otherwise irritate the vagina.
It’s important to note that every woman’s vagina has a unique smell. If you’ve noticed that your vagina is smellier than usual, you should consult with your gynecologist to make sure you don’t have a medical problem.
However, if you’re completely healthy but you want to improve the smell of your vagina on a hot humid day or prevent odors when you exercise, a pH-balanced spray can be safe and helpful. In this article, we’ll look at some of the commonly held beliefs surrounding FDS and show you why they aren’t always accurate.
Myth #1: All FDS Throw the Vagina’s pH Out of Balance
Many women are confused about whether feminine sprays are safe or not. They are often told that the vagina cleans itself and products mess with the pH balance. That’s because many sprays contain harmful chemicals that interact badly with healthy bacteria in the vagina. This can make you more likely to develop a yeast infection. Some fragrances can also irritate the vulva. However, not all sprays are created equally. It all depends on their pH levels.
Why the pH of FDS Matters
Many cleansers and sprays have a pH between 9 and 10. However, a healthy vagina has a pH somewhere between 3.8 to 4.5. Using highly alkaline products can cause an overgrowth of bad bacteria and this can lead to irritation. If you use a pH-balanced spray, you won’t disrupt the normal pH of your vagina.
Myth #2: All FDS Contain Harmful Ingredients
This is a common belief. One of the reasons why the use of feminine sprays is not advised is that some contain harmful ingredients like formaldehyde, phthalates, parabens and synthetic fragrances. However, once again, we need to point out that not all sprays are the same. Sprays that don’t contain these irritants are safe. You can get all-natural, chemical-free products.
Impact of Chemical Irritants
- Increase your risk of developing an infection
- Cause an allergic reaction
- Lead to vaginal dryness
Myth #3: Feminine Sprays Have the Same Side Effects as Douches
Feminine sprays tend to get lumped together with douches when experts issue warnings. However, even though you find them in the same aisle, they aren’t the same thing. Douches are liquids used to clean the inside of the vagina. Sprays are only meant to be used externally.
Negative Consequences of Douching
While you can safely use natural, pH-balanced sprays, you should never douche. Some women were taught to use douches to get rid of vaginal odor, rinse away menstrual blood at the end of their period or even prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Side Effects of Douching
However, healthcare professionals have made it clear that douching is not effective for any of these purposes and it can actually increase the risk of infection and pregnancy complications. That’s why you shouldn’t assume chemical-free feminine sprays and douches are the same.
Myth #4: FDS Cause UTIs
A number of factors increase your chances of developing a urinary tract infection. However, genetics and the frequency with which you have sex are big contributing factors. Sprays or soaps are unlikely to cause UTIs, but harsh products can lead to other problems like bacterial vaginosis. Any product you use around your vagina should be pH balanced and free of unnecessary ingredients. That being said, there’s a chance of a negative reaction to any product.
Adverse Effects Linked to Feminine Sprays
If you experience uncomfortable side effects, you should stop using the spray. Inflammation of the vagina, contact dermatitis, and irritation of the rectum can occur and they are likely to be severe.
Less Severe Effects
Less severe, but also likely to occur are:
- Vaginal itching or burning
- Vaginal dryness
- Vaginal discharge
- Vaginal irritation
Generally, if you’re concerned about a strong vaginal odor, or you’ve experienced a change in your normal smell, you should see a doctor.
Common Causes of Vaginal Odor
There are several reasons why your vagina could have a bad smell, and some are more serious than others.
- Sweat – The skin around your genitals can get quite sweaty and when this mixes with your natural smell, you can get quite an unpleasant odor.
- Diet – If you eat foods with strong odors like garlic, curry or onions or asparagus, they can affect the smell of your vagina.
- Bacterial vaginosis – This condition is often caused by an overgrowth of bacteria called Gardnerella vaginalis. Symptoms include a strong fishy odor and a grey, runny discharge. The smell gets stronger when the discharge comes into contact with semen. BV can be embarrassing and uncomfortable, but it is usually easily treated with antibiotics.
- Hormonal changes – Birth control pills and hormonal therapy can cause changes in the pH of your vagina and, therefore, influence its smell. Menopause and the accompanying drop of in estrogen can also make you more vulnerable to BV and yeast infections.
- Medications – Since antibiotics affect the bacteria levels in your vagina, they can cause discharge and odor. Similarly, the use of antihistamines can result in vaginal dryness and this can also affect the way you smell down there.
If you’re concerned about your vaginal odor, but you’re not experiencing any other symptoms, you can try drinking more water and taking probiotics. Use only mild soap or soap-free products to clean your vulva and labia. If these measures don’t help, you should seek medical advice.
If there’s nothing medically wrong but you just want to add a light, fresh smell and keep bad odors at bay, a pH-balanced spray can help. Be sure not to overuse it and see your doctor if you notice any adverse effects.