Normally, when we cover health topics due to popular demand, we say, “You asked and we answered.”
In this case, we suspect many women are too shy or embarrassed to ask these questions publicly. So, we researched the most popular questions women have about their genital area. Here are the answers to the questions you’re probably thinking, according to the experts.
Does my vagina smell normal?
Having a slight odor is normal, says Medical News Today, a health website edited by medical professionals. Having a mild, musky smell is also normal, and that odor may be partially due to pheromones that increase sexual attractiveness. Medical News Today says this odor may change with hormonal shifts during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause.
However, some odors may not be so normal. A fishy smell may be a symptom of bacterial vaginosis, according to the U.S. Office on Women’s Health. If left untreated, this change in bacteria can increase the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and cause problems during pregnancy. A sweet, sour, or beer-like odor might be a symptom of a yeast infection.
While women can treat a yeast infection with over-the-counter medicines, bacterial vaginosis can only be treated with antibiotics prescribed by a doctor.
What is that bump down there?
It depends on the bump and where it is. Many women mistake their hard, red bumps as acne when it’s more likely they may be ingrown hairs, according to the medical website Healthline. Shaving, waxing, and other hair removal methods may cause an infection in some of the hair follicles around the vulva that results in little lumps.
Some bumps in the genital area could be a result of an STI, like genital warts, herpes, or syphilis.
Small, hard lumps may be cysts that form when a gland becomes infected. Bartholin’s cyst is a bump near the opening of the vagina, while sebaceous cysts often show up on the labia. They’re usually painless and go away on their own, but if they become too painful when walking or sitting a doctor can prescribe antibiotics.
What’s with the vaginal discharge?
White or clear discharge is common and usually indicates healthy ovulation, according to Healthline. Brown or bloody discharge may be excess menstrual blood leaving the cervix, but it could also indicate pregnancy. In rare cases, it may even be a sign of polyps, fibroids or even cervical cancer. Be sure to consult with your OBGYN and get the proper screenings. Yellow and pus-like discharge may be a symptom of STIs like gonorrhea and chlamydia, and frothy, grayish green discharge may indicate bacterial vaginosis.
Why does one of my labia lips hang lower than the other?
The medical term for this “labial hypertrophy.” According to Medical News Today, this is completely normal and simply has to do with the way our bodies are unique. Some women’s labia are different sizes while others have lips that are smaller. Cosmetic surgery may change this but it isn’t necessary.
Why is it so itchy down there?
Yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis are two common culprits of itching in the genital area, but they’re not the only ones. Itching may also be a sign of STIs (like gonorrhea, chlamydia, or herpes) or skin diseases like eczema or psoriasis. And decreasing estrogen levels during menopause leads to thinning of the mucosa and excessive dryness that can cause itching and irritation.
However, we can control some potential causes of vaginal itch. Irritating chemicals can aggravate the area and cause discomfort. These include soap, douches, creams, detergents, fabric softeners, and scented toilet paper.
Remember, the vagina can clean itself; you don’t need to add scrub it out yourself.