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Those who have TMAU are plagued by extreme body odor: Their urine, breath, and sweat are laced with a thick scent akin to that of rotting eggs, garbage, or stale fish, and it's completely impossible to control with bathing, deodorant, or other forms of personal hygiene. The first time I smelled the odor, and I asked him if he could, too, he thought I was joking, seriously, because he couldn't smell anything. Still, I could tell that something just wasn’t right. My grandfather sweats a lot, too, so I just thought it was genetic.

Some sufferers are born with the genetic mutation that causes TMAU, but others acquire it in adulthood (hormonal changes or chronic illness are two possible triggers). For the most part, my kids cannot, but there’s been a few times where they’ve said something about my breath. But you become paranoid, and you go to your family members to ask if they smell anything on you, because you want the truth. For the most part if you have this condition you’re completely unaware that you’re emitting any kind of scent, your nose is so accustomed to it. But I have a very sensitive nose, which is why it’s so confusing that I can’t even detect my own odor. It really didn’t inhibit me: I dated, I had friends, and I went to prom.

, I got so many questions about how coochies smell that I was inspired to write a whole chapter about it.

With nicknames like "Fish Taco," it's no wonder we freak out.

Many women I meet absolutely despise their vaginas, as if they completely buy into whatever childhood messages they were fed about how the vagina is "dirty" and "bad." For these women, any odor wafting up from down there acts as a big stinky banner of how much they hate their girlness.

With vagina nicknames such as "fish taco," "crotch mackerel," "cod canal," "fish factory," "fuzzy lap flounder," "tuna town," and "raw oyster," it’s no wonder we worry about how we smell. Why should we hate what's normal, healthy, and part of the rich female experience? Sure, hygiene plays a role, and just like washing your pits and your feet, cleaning yourself down there is part of being an accepted member of society (not to mention being a conscientious sexual partner).

Body odor is such a taboo subject — I don’t think anyone really feels comfortable going up to someone and saying, “Hey, man — you need a bath!

Then I noticed, when I was out shopping, store assistants would say rude things very loudly because they wanted to let me know I had a problem. Don’t let her come down my line.” I’d hear words like as I walked past with my cart.

I just said I was so sorry, I felt bad, they thought I was going in there without bathing or brushing my teeth, but the truth was I had this odor I could not get rid of. I’ve had baggers just walk off midway through serving me.

Doing so thwarts the primal function of what your smell is supposed to accomplish.

Plus, it interferes with the vagina's natural p H balance and can lead to a whole host of gynecological conditions. Sure, if you're worried, see a gynecologist to make sure your vagina is healthy and normal. Lissa Rankin is an OB/GYN physician, an author, a nationally-represented professional artist, and the founder of Owning Pink, an online community committed to building authentic community and empowering women to get -- and keep -- their "mojo." Owning Pink is all about owning all the facets of what makes you whole -- your health, your sexuality, your spirituality, your creativity, your career, your relationships, the planet, and YOU. Rankin is currently redefining women's health at the Owning Pink Center, her practice in Mill Valley, California.

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