Do you sense an unpleasant smell down there? Want to get rid of that vaginal odor? Well, settle down, as we will be sharing you the causes, remedies, and prevention tips when dealing with a smelly vagina.
Now, before we start listing the causes of vaginal odor, here’s a clarification first: vaginas have natural odors and don’t actually smell like flowers. It’s normal for your intimate area to smell musky. Vaginal odor also changes regularly. Certain factors, such as menstruation and intercourse, can change it temporarily.
With that being said don’t think that your vagina isn’t okay just because it doesn’t smell like roses. Throw those scented feminine washes away—it can bring more harm than good to you.
However, if you’re experiencing an unusual smell that doesn’t go away for weeks, it could be a sign of a health problem. Wondering what could be the cause of that unusual smell? We got you a guide below.
Types & Causes of Vaginal Odor
Before trying to get rid of that vaginal odor, you might want to check its possible cause. There are smells that you don’t need to worry about, while there are odors that would want you to get consultation asap. Check below if your vagina smell fits on this list.
Does it smell like a sourdough bread down there? Chances are you have a Yeast Infection.
A Yeast Infection occurs when there’s an overgrowth of yeast in your vagina. By having this, you either are taking antibiotics, pregnant, have uncontrolled diabetes, taking hormonal contraceptives, or using unsuitable lubricants or spermicides.
It also comes with other symptoms such as intense vaginal itching and cheese-like discharge. If you’re experiencing that, we suggest going to your doctor to confirm your diagnosis. Your doctor will then prescribe you with antifungal medications or other forms of treatment, depending on the severity of your case.
If your vagina is smelling sweet, you’re probably eating tons of citrus fruits. Though there’s limited scientific evidence to prove this, your diet can cause your vaginal odor to change. If you’re eating fruits, your vaginal fluids tend to smell sweet.
Now you might be thinking, is this a sign of a health problem? Well, don’t worry. Your vagina is healthy– this is just your diet temporarily changing things.
Have a strong-smelling vaginal odor? Well, if you’ve been eating meals filled with onions and garlic, this is most likely to happen.
As we’ve mentioned in the previous section, your diet can affect your vaginal odor. So if you’re eating pungent foods, expect your vagina to smell unusually overpowering.
But should this stop you from eating your good ‘ol garlic butter pasta? Heck no! You shouldn’t stop eating the foods you enjoy just to have a “more pleasant” vaginal odor. What we can suggest is to cut down your consumption of pungent foods if you’re planning to do the deed, just in case your partner isn’t down to it. But if your partner isn’t complaining at all, then there’s nothing to worry about.
If your vagina has a bleach-like or chlorine-like odor, don’t worry as it’s not that serious.
The smell usually occurs due to the particular lubricant or condoms that you’re using. Now, if the bleachy odor bothers you too much, then go for a different brand/variant of condoms and lube.
There’s also a chance that the bleachy smell is caused by dehydration or Bacterial Vaginosis. Just seek medical help if you’re suffering from other symptoms, such as vaginal itching and unusual discharge. (And don’t forget to drink water, sis!)
If your vagina has a strong, fishy odor, it could be a sign of Bacterial Vaginosis or Trichomoniasis.
Bacterial Vaginosis is an infection that’s caused by an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the vagina. Now, if this is the cause of your fishy odor down there, you may also experience white or gray discharge, burning sensation when peeing, and vaginal itching.
On the other hand, if you’re experiencing this fishy smell along with green and yellowish discharge, vaginal itching, and burning/painful sensation when urinating/having sex, then you’re most likely suffering from Trichomoniasis, a common sexually transmitted disease.
We suggest checking up with a doctor as soon as possible. As long as you take your doctor’s prescriptions and instructions, you’ll be fine.
Is your vag smelling like rotting food? There’s a big chance that you’ve left a tampon down there for a few days. The combination of old blood, vaginal secretions, and bacteria may create a repulsive smell.
Now to get rid of vaginal odor caused by this, we suggest pulling that tampon out! If you can’t do it, seek an appointment with your gynecologist to help pull that thing off.
Aside from the fishy smell, a sour-smelling vagina can also be a sign of Trichomoniasis, a common sexually transmitted disease. As we’ve mentioned above, we suggest checking with your doctor regarding this so you’ll be able to recover immediately.
This is pretty much a rare case, but if your intimate area smells like cheese, there’s a chance that you’re suffering from an infection. You may also suffer from a combination of causes that are listed here.
To get rid of this vaginal odor, what we can only suggest is to see your gyno for an official diagnosis and treatment.
How to Get Rid of Vaginal Odor
Is the pungent smell down there annoying you so much? Here are some safe remedies to get rid of the unusual vaginal odor. You can also use these tips as a way to prevent experiencing unusual vaginal smells in the future. Read on!
Practice good hygiene.
Before guessing the cause of your unusual vaginal odor, take time to assess your washing habits first. Are you cleaning your vulva regularly? Do you change your underwear every day? Are you wiping from front to back or the other way around? These are the questions that you need to ask yourself.
Because sometimes, a smelly vagina isn’t a sign of a health issue. It can simply mean that you’re not cleaning enough, or that you’re using products that disrupt the balance on your vag. Here are some ways to improve your hygiene and help you get rid of vaginal odor:
- Use a gentle, unscented cleanser. Other scented variants may have chemicals that can ruin your vagina’s natural pH.
- Wash your intimate area with warm water. Use your hands as you lightly scrub the dead skin on your pubic area and vulva. You can also use a gentle washcloth for this.
- Don’t put cleansers or soaps directly to your vagina. Remember, the vagina is a self-cleaning organ.
- Avoid using loofah when scrubbing the dead skin and dirt on your intimate area. It can cause small tears, risking you from getting infections.
- Once you’re done peeing, make sure to properly dry your vulva. Use a clean towel, wipes, or gentle tissues to do so. Also, don’t forget to wipe from front to back!
- Never reuse your underwear. After a day or a few hours, toss it in the laundry basket already.
- Remove your bushes. Your pubic hair can actually hold sweat, oil, and bacteria—bringing a stronger odor down there. It’s up to you if you want to wax, trim, shave, or go for a laser treatment. Choose a hair removal method that works best for you.
Have a warm bath with apple cider vinegar in it.
As vinegar naturally reduces bacteria, we suggest trying this home remedy out. Pour 1-2 cups of Apple Cider Vinegar into a warm bath and soak for 20 minutes. Do this regularly until the smell gets better. However, be careful with this remedy—don’t do it every day as frequent hot baths and showers can ruin your vagina’s natural pH.
Avoid vaginal “beauty” treatments and products.
Some women tend to go this route when they want to get rid of their vaginal odor. They believe that vaginal steaming or douching can remove the unusual smell in their vag. Some of them also indulge in vaginal scrubs, sprays, perfume, and other products that promise fragrance in their intimate area.
We get that these products can be tempting, but they’re not going to help you get rid of your vaginal odor. In fact, experts suggest to not try these “vaginal beauty treatments/products” since it tends to disrupt the pH balance in your vagina. Instead of helping you get rid of the smell, it can actually make it worse and even risk you in getting infections.
Opt for cotton underwear.
For our readers who normally wear silk, polyester, or satin underwear, it’s time to make a change. Go for panties that are made with 100% cotton. This type of fabric is breathable and can help you absorb the sweat and secretions from your intimate area. As for your laced undies, you don’t need to throw them out—just these non-cotton undies for special occasions.
Avoid frequent use of panty liners.
If you’re someone who uses panty liners every day, it’s time to stop that. Did you know that panty liners can irritate your vulva? Panty liners create a moist environment and hold irritants that can ruin your delicate vulva. With that, it can also increase your chances of getting a vaginal infection.
With that, we encourage you to limit your use of panty liners. Just use one before or at the end of the menstruation cycle. Also, change your panty liners after a few hours—don’t let it stay there for a day!
Now, if you have a heavy discharge that it’s impossible to not go a day without using a panty liner, consult your doctor immediately. That heavy discharge can be a sign of a health issue.
Avoid tight clothing.
Let your vagina breathe! Tight or synthetic clothing, including leggings and skinny jeans, can restrict the circulation of air around your crotch area. When this happens, heat and moisture are trapped in your vagina, making it a suitable environment for bacteria.
You obviously don’t want bacteria to thrive down there, right? So as much as possible, go for clothing that wouldn’t limit the flow of air in your intimate area. Examples are flowy dresses/skirts, loose pajamas/shorts.
Maintain a healthy diet.
As we’ve mentioned before, your diet can affect the smell of your vagina. So if you want to keep your vag smelling fresh, it’s best to steer away from pungent smelling foods. Also, having a healthier diet protects you from infections and other vaginal health issues.
Here are some foods that you should indulge in.
- Probiotics: Helps in balancing pH levels, preventing you from getting yeast infections.
- Cranberries: Contains acidic compounds to fight off bacteria. It can protect you from Urinary Tract Infection (UTI).
- Leafy Greens: Prevent vaginal dryness and enhance your circulation.
- Green Tea: It may help to kill the E. coli bacteria that can cause UTIs.
- Water: Don’t forget your H2O! It encourages healthy sweating and helps in releasing toxins in your body. It also helps your vagina self-clean itself.
On the other hand, here are some food items you should avoid if you want to get rid of vaginal odor.
- Pungent foods, such as onions.
- Sugary foods such as pastries. It can trigger an overgrowth of yeast, strengthening the odor of your vagina.
Go for prescription treatments.
If all of these home remedies above aren’t working, seek medical help as soon as possible. Your smelly vagina may be a sign of a health issue that only prescribed meds can fix. During the consultation and tears, just relax and be real with your doctor so they’ll be able to accurately diagnose the cause of your condition.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you’ve learned about the different causes and remedies, you’re most likely ready to get rid of your vaginal odor. However, if you still have some questions, we got you. We answered some of the frequently asked questions about vaginal odor. Read on!
1When is it time to see a doctor?
If you’ve tried all the remedies above and the repulsive smell is still there, your best bet is seeing a medical professional.
However, if you’re experiencing other symptoms, such as vaginal itching, bleeding, unusual discharge, no need to try the home remedies above, and consult your doctor immediately. Those cases are no longer just a hygiene or diet issue, it’s usually a sign of a health condition, so visit your doctor as soon as possible.
2I’m pregnant. Is my vagina supposed to have an unusual smell?
Yes! Your pH balance and hormones are consistently altered during this time. Once you deliver the baby, the unusual odor should disappear. If the smell doesn’t go away after a few weeks of childbirth, then there must be an underlying health condition that is causing that. Consult your gynecologist regarding this.
3Can menopause change my vaginal odor?
During menopause, the estrogen levels are dropped, making your vagina more susceptible to dryness, irritation, and even infection. With that being said, it’s possible to have an altered vaginal odor later on.
Also, menopause can affect our sense of smell. So it’s possible that your vagina still has that musky and fleshy smell, but you think it isn’t because your sense of smell is altered.
It’s normal for a vagina to smell. It’s not supposed to have a fragrance. The smell can also alter when you have your monthly period, have intercourse, or become pregnant.
Now, if your vagina is smelling a little bit repulsive, you can try some home remedies to get rid of the vaginal odor. If the odor isn’t gone for a week or if you’re experiencing other symptoms such as vaginal itching, seek medical help immediately. Diligently follow their instructions and prescription, and you’ll have a natural smelling vagina in no time.