Smell from down there

SHE seems tidy, attractive, nice and totally seductive.

But she smells like tuna fish down. The worst is that it affects your arousal.

But because you still think she's good-looking and you love her, you don't want to lose her.

Does this ring a bell?

Don't fret guys. Landile Mdluli, a general practitioner in Johannesburg, says all women have a slight smell down there when they are turned on. But it should be inviting to men.

So what do you do if it is not inviting?

"If you really can't take the smell you might give her a hint that she needs to clean up down there. The best thing is to lovingly, but firmly, tell your woman that the odour is interfering with your arousal.

"Tell her you love having sex with her and you don't want anything to get in the way."

What do men need to know about this situation?

Thandeka Mazondwa, a professional nurse, says it is completely normal for a woman to have a slight vaginal odour.

While they share common characteristics, every woman has her own smell. In many cases the odour will change during her menstrual cycle.

In many instances, though, troublesome vaginal odour is due to the overproduction of bad bacteria, which can cause vaginal infections.

"There are many infections that can cause this type of odour, which is usually a fishy type of odour," Mazondwa says.

"Some of these infections are yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis and many sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia, genital herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea and many more."

Mazondwa says yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis might be spread or passed from partner to partner, but are not considered to be sexually transmitted diseases.

She says the overproduction of bad bacteria can be caused by many things. One of these is poor hygiene and another is contracting it through sex.

"Another equally important reason is that women who try to be hygienic use the wrong products," she says. "By using products that are not pH-balanced for the vagina they kill the good bacteria and invite bad bacteria to enter and take over.

"When this happens it disturbs the pH balance of the vagina. This is why douching is never recommended and why you should never use harsh cleaning products when cleaning the vagina."

Another reason why a woman's vagina could have an unpleasantly strong odour is her diet.

Mazondwa says just as the taste of a man's semen depends on what he eats, so does the smell of a woman's vagina.

Eating foods that are very spicy or have strong tastes, such as some cheeses and especially dark chocolate, will have an effect on the smell of the vagina.

"As a matter of fact, it will have an effect on her overall body odour - and this holds true for men as well," Mazondwa points out.

"So she should keep an eye on what she's eating since this might provide a vital clue to why she might have very strong vaginal odour."

How to remove vaginal smell:

lStop using scented soaps and body washes. Opt for plain or mild, unscented soap and wash gently with lots of warm (not hot) water.

lAvoid douching. Vaginal douching can upset the healthy balance of "good" bacteria in the vagina.

lWear loose cotton panties. Avoid wearing pantyhose or leather and synthetic clothing that might block the flow of air to the vagina. Loose cotton panties will allow proper ventilation and help eliminate vaginal odour.

lYou might have vaginal odour because of a forgotten tampon.

l Eat more yogurt. It replenishes healthy bacteria in the gut, including the vaginal area, and might help get rid of yeast infection if caught early enough. - additional info