The vagina has a unique scent. Some women may feel embarrassed by the smell of their vagina, but it is normal for a healthy vagina to have a slight odor. However, this smell can change in case of infections or other health problems. Diet, health, and other factors can affect the natural scent of the vagina. Many products offer to “improve” vaginal odor, but this is neither medically necessary nor safe. In fact, it can lead to infections that could cause or exacerbate an unpleasant odor.
In this article, we explore strategies to safely reduce vaginal odor and treat any underlying medical issues.
- 1 The different types of vaginal odor
- 2 Different vaginal odors and their causes
- 3 6 tips to prevent vaginal odor
- 4 Sources
The different types of vaginal odor
A light, musky odor is normal for a healthy vagina. Negative feelings about vaginal odor can lead to difficulties with self-esteem and body image.
However, it is normal for the vagina to have a light, musky odor. This smell changes with hormonal changes during pregnancy, menopause and the menstrual cycle. A subtle odor is no cause for concern. However, women with other vaginal odors may wish to see a doctor.
Different vaginal odors and their causes
– Fishy vaginal odor
When certain factors affect the complex chemistry of the vagina, harmful bacteria can grow out of control and produce a fishy smell. Bacterial vaginosis can have this effect. It is the most common vaginal infection in women between the ages of 15 and 44. Some women with bacterial vaginosis may experience other symptoms, such as itching or burning. These symptoms may resemble those of a yeast infection. For many, however, the fishy smell is the only symptom.
Prescription antibiotics can help treat this infection, and adopting certain healthy habits can reduce the risk of getting it again. These include in particular
– Avoid douching: They can affect the delicate pH balance of the vagina.
– Do not use perfumed or flavored products in or around the vagina: Perfumes and other products, such as scented tampons, can alter the chemistry of the vagina and lead to bacterial vaginosis.
– Limit the number of sexual partners and practice safe sex: Although bacterial vaginosis is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI), having multiple sexual partners can affect the bacterial balance of the vagina and potentially cause bacterial vaginosis.
– Sweet or beer-like vaginal odor
An overgrowth of yeast in the vagina can produce a sweet smell, similar to honey or cookies. The vagina may also smell like beer, flour, or bread. It can also sometimes have a sour smell. Intense burning, itching, or a feeling of dryness usually accompanies yeast infections. These symptoms tend to get worse over time. Some women may also notice a discharge that looks like cottage cheese. These conditions can be treated with over-the-counter medications. However, women who have never had a yeast infection before should see a doctor to rule out other causes.
Many of the measures that help prevent bacterial vaginosis, such as avoiding scented products and never showering, are also effective in preventing yeast overgrowth.
Here are some other strategies:
– Take antibiotics only when necessary: In some women, antibiotics can kill beneficial vaginal bacteria, thus triggering the growth of vaginal yeast.
– Do not have oral sex with people who have oral thrush: People can transmit thrush through oral-genital contact.
– Keep the vaginal area relatively dry: As yeast grows faster in moist environments, it is important to avoid leaving moisture on the vagina after cleaning. Dry yourself off with a towel after taking a bath or shower, and avoid sitting in a bathing suit or wet underwear.
– Other odors
– Hormonal changes that occur during menopause can alter the smell of the vagina and make it feel dry.
– Some STIs can also alter the smell of the vagina, in particular trichomoniasis.
– Women should consult a doctor if there is a noticeable change in vaginal odor. Especially if the smell is strong or unpleasant. However, they should not use perfume to mask the smell.
6 tips to prevent vaginal odor
1. Adopt good hygiene measures to get rid of annoying odors
Adopting safe and gentle vaginal hygiene measures can help reduce vaginal odor. Here are a few tips :
– wipe the vulva from front to back, which prevents feces from entering the vagina
– urinate immediately after intercourse
– use a mild, unscented soap on the vulva only
– change underwear every day, or when underwear is sweaty or soiled
– wash underwear in unscented products
– take a shower after sweating, as trapped sweat can increase vaginal odor
– in case of unpleasant smell, wash the vulva with water
– use a washcloth between showers to gently wipe the area.
– Inserting soap into the vagina can affect the vaginal pH, which can lead to infections and an unpleasant odor.
2. Use internal menstruation products
Some women may notice a stronger vaginal odor during menstruation. Hormonal changes can cause an odor similar to iron or ammonia. Some menstrual products can trap odors, making this effect worse. To reduce vaginal odor due to menstruation, try using internal products. Moisture from reusable cloth towels can contribute to odors. Sitting on a damp towel can also promote infections.
3. Care for the vagina after sex
Some women notice a strong fishy smell immediately after sex, which is a sign of bacterial vaginosis. Others may note a less distinct smell.
Sometimes semen interacts with vaginal fluid, which contributes to vaginal odor. Some lubricants can also change the pH of the vagina, which can affect odor.
The following steps can be taken after vaginal intercourse to reduce odor:
– Use a condom to avoid any contact between semen and vaginal fluids.
– Rinse the vulva with water. Doctors do not recommend douching.
– Avoid using scented or flavored lubricants.
4. Consume probiotics
Probiotics promote the presence of healthy bacteria throughout the human body, including the vagina. They may also help prevent certain vaginal infections, including yeast infections. Probiotics can reduce the risk of vaginal odor because they help restore the normal pH of the vagina.
5. Avoid wearing tight clothes
Clothing can trap fluids and substances around the vagina, including:
– the sweat
– dead skin
– sperm from a previous sexual intercourse
Tight-fitting clothes, including some tight-fitting clothes, are often responsible for this retention. Feces that reach the vagina can cause infection and odor, so it’s important to avoid clothing that promotes this spread. This includes tight-fitting thong underwear.
Breathable cotton is the best choice for people concerned about vaginal odor because it’s less likely to trap moisture near the vagina. This makes it harder for bacteria and other odor sources to build up and produce a strong odor.
6. Reduce sugar and boost hydration
Consuming sugary foods can trigger an overgrowth of yeast, which can enhance vagina odor. There is no research that supports the use of any specific food to alter vagina odor. However, some anecdotal evidence suggests that eating sweet-smelling foods, such as watermelon, apple, and celery, may help.
Women should also try to drink plenty of water. Proper hydration prevents bacterial growth. It can also prevent perspiration from having an irregular odor, which results in a less pronounced vaginal odor.
Bacterial vaginosis—CDC fact sheet. (2017).
Shenoy, A., & Gottlieb, A. (2019). Probiotics for oral and vulvovaginal candidiasis: A review [Abstract].
Subramanian, C., et al. (2012). Genital malodor in women: A modern reappraisal [Abstract].
* The information and services available on pressesante.com in no way replace the consultation of competent health professionals. [HighProtein-Foods.com]