Her vagina smells like spoiled cabbage

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Dear Cary,

How do you tell your vegan girlfriend that she smells like spoiled cabbage, and sometimes the smell “down there” is revolting? Hopefully you can pull this out of the archives, I hate to see people work for free.

Signed,

Let’s Come Together for a Better-Smelling World!

Dear Let’s Come Together,

First, before you say anything to her, I suggest you learn as much as you can about the possible sources of vaginal odor. The Mayo Clinic site is great for solid, general information.

Then bring it up, but gently. Don’t mention spoiled cabbage. Don’t mention her vegan diet. Tell her that you noticed an unusual odor and that while it may have many causes, you are concerned, lest it be a health issue for her. Suggest that if it persists she should see her doctor just to be sure it isn’t an infection that needs to be treated, or one of a few more serious conditions.

While food doesn’t directly cause strong vaginal odor, according to this piece at the site Woman4Woman, “it can contribute to changes in the vaginal environment and affect the scent of your vaginal secretions.”

The fact that you mention that she’s a vegan indicates a couple of things. You may have noticed food-related odors on her skin and breath, and diet may have something to do with that. You may also have certain negative feelings about her vegan diet that you haven’t fully shared with her. So this could be a tricky subject, maybe as touchy as her vagina. So be careful and keep in mind that the most important thing here is the relationship. And the sex. Without condemning her diet, you might mention that certain foods really do change how she tastes. You might mention that the sex is very important to you, and you want to continue to have a good sex life, and then see if perhaps you can bathe together first, or something like that. Or ask if you can wash it. She might like that, actually, if you put it the right way. It might feel pretty good. It depends on the person.

And definitely, if it persists, she should see a doctor.

Also — and here we get to the emotional part: If she objects to your bringing it up, or seems not to care, or thinks it shouldn’t be an issue, then you might get mad. You might want to break up with her. You might want to make hypothetical statements about some perceived connection between her vaginal odor and her vegan diet. If that happens,  just take a deep breath and tell her that it feels like she’s not taking your feelings seriously.

Seriously. I know that sounds all kinda California and all, but give it a try. Focus on the feelings, not on the cabbage.

I am indeed as you say “working for free” on this column now, until we can figure out a revenue model (O Holy Grail of Internet commerce where are you?) so I cannot go into as much detail as I might like, but I hope this is helpful. And if this reply isn’t helpful, try Dan Savage. Our many wise readers will also, I hope, comment with their experience and knowledge.

Thank you, O Great Readers and Commenters, Many of Whom Have Come Here From that Other Land We Remember Fondly but Also with Concern …

Best
CT

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