Imagine yourself lounging by the pool in a big floppy hat and your new husband by your side. He takes out the sunscreen and begins gently massaging it onto your bronzing skin.
Before you know it, you're excusing yourself from the poolside, making out in the elevator, and he's untying your bikini at the entrance to your hotel room door when... pump the breaks!
You suddenly realize you've been sweating in the sun all day and feel self-conscious that you're not as fresh down there as you could be down there.
So how exactly can you keep your lady parts clean, and most importantly, what's healthy and "normal" below the waist?
1. Be aware of any out-of-the-ordinary smells.
First off, vaginas should smell and taste like nothing other than, well, vagina! Your private parts aren't supposed to smell like a Glade candle or taste like Starbursts. Your vulva, which includes the outer and inner lips (labia majora and labia minora), the clitoris, and the opening (vestibule), has a natural scent that varies by person.
The taste is related to its pH balance and has been described on MyVag.com as, "not quite sour, but somewhat astringent," since the vagina is acidic. Though little research exists to support the "pineapple theory," some experts suggest that eating more and less of certain foods can make you taste sweeter.
Dr. Carol Queen, Staff Sexologist and Chief Cultural Officer at Good Vibrations says, "Some people swear by a vegetarian, high-fruit diet (especially papaya and pineapple) to make all their bodily scents nicer." Queen suggests paying attention to whether red meat affects your scent, and warns smell-laden foods, such as garlic and onions can leave their trace. "If you're changing your diet, cut out cigarettes while you're at it. Some people also think coffee and alcohol change the flavor and smell of our secretions," encourages Queen.
Still feeling insecure? According to Dr. Katherine Ellin, a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Certified Sex Therapist in Cambridge, MA, "There's something unique about a person's odor and it can be very sexy and appealing. In our culture, people believe everything should be sanitized, and that nothing should smell. That's just not realistic."
So don't fret, your man may actually be very attracted to your scent! Lastly, it's important to be familiar with your vaginal scent because if something's fishy (no pun intended) you can recognize odor-causing infections faster. Just make sure you seek treatment ASAP. Queen reminds us to "follow the doctor's instructions — and do this a few weeks before the wedding so there's no need to put medical goo inside yourself on your wedding night!"
2. Your 6th grade health educator was right — hygiene is key!
It may be ok to go a few days without washing your hair, but that's in reference to the hair on top of your head! Bathing or showering daily, especially after exercise, is the best way to stay fresh. Stick with a gentle, unscented bar soap, which can have less drying and irritating alcohol content than body wash.
When you're rinsing off, only focus on washing the vulva since the inner part of your vagina naturally cleanses itself. That means ditch the idea of douching completely, which can cause infection and other health problems. Sweat and the odor from urine can get trapped in your pubic hair. "Some women trim their pubic hair short or get a Brazilian wax — that's up to you, but remember to use personal wipes or a damp washcloth if you can't shower after the gym or when you've had to run for the bus," says Dr. Queen.
So before you head on your trip, book yourself a wax or bring cleansing wipes, which are good on the go for when the mood strikes! Queen recommends eco-friendly Swipes, which are great for after sex too.
3. Let your lady bits breathe!
When it's time to pack for your honeymoon, there's more than flirty outfits and sexy lingerie to consider. Dr. Queen points out that tight clothing, such as skinny jeans, pantyhose, and polyester undies gives your nethers little chance to breathe. In terms of lingerie, she says, "Go natural fiber, especially cotton, which breathes — poly fabrics do not. You might even want to go commando part of the time." We don't think your new hubby will mind that either!
Now go have the hot and heavy honeymoon of your dreams... bon voyage!