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Bye-bye, B.O.

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That not-so-fresh feeling

Every woman has a distinctive, natural vaginal scent that can become stronger or milder throughout her monthly cycle. But a really foul smell may indicate a change in the vagina’s delicate bacterial balance - a top reason women visit their gynecologist. Odor accompanied by discharge that’s yellowish, green, grayish, or thick like cottage cheese may indicate a yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis (BV), or trichomoniasis.

What to do: Wash around your vagina with a mild soap like Dove when you shower. And try to keep excess moisture away from your genitals: Change out of wet swimsuits and sweaty workout clothes immediately and wear cotton-lined panties that wick moisture away and allow air to circulate. Avoid scented hygiene products that, if you’re sensitive, can up your risk for vaginal irritations. If you do have an infection, antibiotics (for BV and trichomoniasis) or antifungals (for yeast) will generally clear it right up.

Beastly breath

More than 80 million Americans suffer from chronic bad breath (halitosis), which occurs when bacteria that live in the mouth feast on decaying food particles, then produce smelly sulfur compounds. What you eat can cause dragon breath too. “Pungent foods like garlic and onions are absorbed by the stomach and then released from the lungs for up to 72 hours after you’ve eaten them,” says Paul Bussman, D.M.D., spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry. If your gums bleed or are red or swollen, and your breath reeks, you may have a treatable gum disease like gingivitis.

What to do: Use a scraper or brush on your tongue every time you brush your teeth (at least twice a day or after every meal) to get rid of bacteria. Daily flossing and twice-annual dentist visits are equally important. Low concentrations of carbamide peroxide, a tooth-bleaching agent, can destroy odor-generating bacteria and sulfur compounds for up to a year. The approximately $600 treatment is first administered by your dentist, then completed at home over 10 days. Though most insurance companies won’t pay for this procedure, if you suffer from truly toxic breath, you may find it’s more than worth the cash.

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