I love my wife but it’s hard for me to have sex with her because she smells “down there”. I don’t know how to tell her or even how to say it but I can’t deal with it anymore. It’s affecting our marriage. Please help before things go too far.
Thank you for being honest enough to share this problem with me. As I’m sure you are well aware, this can be a very sensitive issue for you and your wife. It’s important to maintain that sensitivity when you address it with her. Start by seeing a general practitioner who (GP) can evaluate her from head to toe, or a gynaecologist trained to address problems linked to the female reproductive health system. You might be surprised to discover there’s a simple medical intervention available to her that will take care of this problem once and for all. That said, here are a few possible causes for what’s going on with her.
Poor hygiene: This can be tricky because not cleaning herself properly can expose a woman’s reproductive system to different kinds of infections. You’re the one who lives with her. Only you and her know whether this is a possibility. I’m not suggesting that people shower several times per day. This is about going for long periods without bathing, including during their menstrual cycle.
Sensitivity: Some women are quite sensitive to things like certain condoms, lubricants, detergents and/or other perfumed products. The problem is that with continued use, they make the vaginal area quite sensitive. Because itching is one of the symptoms of skin sensitivity, it means that skin tears are common and with skin tears come the increased accessibility for bacteria-containing matter to enter her body. If allergy or sensitivity is suspected, discontinue the suspected products until you find the offending product.
Imbalance: This can be as a result of hormones not being at the right levels, which can manifest physically with strong vaginal odours. One of the most notorious culprits of this is bacterial vaginosis (BV). It’s actually not an infection so much as it is an imbalance between the naturally occurring vaginal good and bacteria. In simple terms, the good bacteria has been overwhelmed by the bad bacteria. Some doctors believe the body should manage these imbalances on their own while others will prescribe an antibiotic. For some women, BV is difficult to eliminate and yet the smell is quite intense. You also don’t mention whether you have any children. Please note that women who have been pregnant have endured a hormonal surge which can take weeks or months to stabilise after the birth of the child. If you suspect that this is what could be going on, definitely have her visit a doctor who can guide her accordingly in addition to the food recommendations previously mentioned.
Infection: Your wife could have an active infection. This could be a yeast infection — which is rather common and which can be easily treated — or a sexually transmitted infection or some other kind of infections. Some STIs are notorious for a strong odour, usually accompanied by heavy discharge. Whatever the case, she needs to visit a doctor so she can be properly evaluated and treated.
A woman’s body requires so much to be in sync that anything from stress to diet to extreme weather changes and even changes in her partner’s body can throw it off, and some women are more sensitive to this than others. That’s why I offer the following final advice:
1. Seeing a doctor (GP or gynecologist) is the most important step. Please make this a priority.
2. Be gentle with her. An upset, hurt wife is hardly the partnership you signed up for, and this is something you control. No matter how bad you feel, she probably feels worse.
3. Absolutely no douching! Women often panic and start squirting all manner of things into their bodies hoping to smell better for their partners. Do not encourage this and in fact, you should actively discourage this or you may both end up with a worse problem than odour.
4. Remember: this is not a verdict on her character or hygiene so keep it in perspective. All women (and all men, btw) have had something ‘off’ at one point or another with their bodies. Also, and not to minimise your situation, but there are worse things that could be wrong at this moment with her or you so...keep this in perspective. You’ve weathered other things together and you can weather this too. I wish you the best.
Joseph, I hope these suggestions help you have a better idea of what could be going on with your wife’s body. Whatever you decide to do, remember to be kind and considerate about it.
Maggie Gitu holds an MA in Marriage & Family Therapy. She practises as a Marriage, Family & Sex Therapist. Reach her at [email protected] or via her Facebook page: Maggie Gitu