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.

Do I Smell — and Can People Tell?

Many girls wonder if they smell "down there" or if people notice they have their periods. 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 when everything's normal, no one smells any odors from a girl's vagina. If a girl has an infection like bacterial vaginosis, she may notice a fishy smell. But even then, it's unlikely that people around her will notice it. Girls who notice an unusual smell should see a doctor just in case they have an infection.

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.

Avoid Douches, Wipes, and Feminine Sprays

Douches, feminine sprays, deodorants, or wipes supposedly keep a woman's vaginal area smelling fresh and clean. Douching means washing out the vagina, usually with a product you buy in a store. But it's not a good idea to douche (unless a doctor tells you to). Douching can cause allergic reactions, irritation, and even infections.

Feminine sprays, deodorants, and scented tampons aren't a good idea either. As with douching, they can lead to things like allergic reactions and irritation. Your vagina has its own natural cleaning system that flushes out bacteria, so you don't need to add any chemicals to help it.

Smells caused by infections need to be treated with prescription medicines. Perfumed sprays don't make infections go away, they just cover up the smell for a short time. If you notice a bad smell or think you may have an infection, see a doctor or go to a health clinic right away.

It's easy to keep your vagina clean without making it smell like a flower shop. You just need to shower or wash every day with a mild soap and plenty of warm water. Some girls like to take warm baths during their periods to help relieve cramps.

What Else Can Help?

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.

Back to Articles


Related Articles

Hair Removal

You can buy dozens of products for getting rid of unwanted hair. How do they work? And how do you use them?

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

When Is it Time to Start Seeing a Gynecologist?

Find out what the experts have to say.

Read More

Am I Still a Virgin If I Use a Tampon?

Find out what the experts have to say.

Read More

What Can I Do About Sweating?

Find out what the experts have to say.

Read More

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.

Read More

All About Periods

Periods can be confusing. Get the facts in this article for teens.

Read More

Can I Prevent Acne?

There's no sure way to prevent acne. But these tips might help reduce the number and severity of your breakouts.

Read More

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.

Read More

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2020 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.

Search our entire site.