“Do guys mind the smell down there? How can I feel less self-conscious about it?”
To see Dr. Glickman's advice, read more.
A lot of guys LOVE the way that women’s vulvas and vaginas smell. It’s really unfortunate that there are so many messages that tell us that these parts of the body are dirty or smell bad, because they make a lot of women feel bad about themselves and they make a lot of men feel bad for their appreciation of women’s scents.
It’s also a problem because plenty of women are so concerned about the way they smell (and taste, for that matter) that they use all sorts of harsh cleaning products like douches or strong soap to try to fix it. These products often throw the natural balance of the vagina off, which can cause yeast infections, vaginal bacteriosis or worse. Those can smell pretty unpleasant, but it’s the result of the product. A mild, unscented soap on the vulva (the external parts) is all you really need. Having said that, it is possible that the way you smell is a sign that there’s something going on. If you have a discharge, itchiness, or redness, get checked out by a doctor.
The vagina is self-cleaning and tends to come back into balance on its own. Still, some women find that they get yeast infections really often, which may be a signal that their vaginal balance is thrown out of whack a bit more easily than most. Other women report that certain lubricants or condoms cause irritation, so changing brands can help resolve a possible problem. Some women have found that their diet was affecting how they smell. For that matter, I’ve heard from women who were getting vaginal irritation because of something on their partner’s skin. Washing well before sex can help a lot, but one woman whose partner was a painter (and always had some paint on his hands) discovered that she needed him to use latex gloves to keep the paint residue out of her vagina. It was a very simple fix and well worth the effort.
Try wearing loose underwear made from cotton or other breathable materials. This allows air to circulate and reduces how much your skin sweats. Sleeping in loose nightgowns, a t-shirt, or nothing at all does the same.
As far as your comfort goes (and assuming that you don’t have a yeast infection or such), you might find that you’re more relaxed if you shower before sex. A lot of people like to make that part of their warm-up and bathing together can certainly be lots of fun. It’s also important to remember that a healthy vagina has some scent to it, just like any other part of the body. Learning to recognize the difference between the healthy scent and the odor that says that there’s something going on can be really useful.
You may also want to explore what messages you’ve heard or learned about your vagina or about sex. A lot of women have been told so many times that their sex organs are dirty or nasty, and that can make you hypersensitive when it comes to how you smell. And if you have a partner who has judgments about your body, pass this link along, or check out this article on Scarleteen.com.