It’s no secret that women are often embarrassed about their vaginal odor. What you might not know is that there can be many causes for it, and all of them need to be taken seriously.
In this post, we’ll explore the most common reasons behind a woman’s unpleasant scent, as well as how to deal with each one!
Is it Normal?
Vaginal odor is normal to every woman, but it’s essential to get familiar with what is normal for you. It might be helpful to track your vaginal symptoms so you can get a better idea of whether or not something needs to be checked out by a professional.
What is Not Normal?
While the vaginal odor is a common and relatively natural occurrence, some issues may indicate something serious. If you experience a strong, abnormal vaginal odor along with any of the symptoms below, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
Symptoms of Vaginal Odor
- Very strong, unpleasant odor.
- The odor smells fishy, similar to body odor or urine. This may indicate common vaginal infection, bacterial vaginosis, or trichomoniasis.
- Discharge associated with the odor. If you experience a vaginal discharge that’s different from your normal, clear, or milky discharge, this could be another indication of an infection. Pay attention to what is coming out of your vagina, as well as the smell.
- A dark, brownish color to your vaginal discharge. Besides being different from your typical white or clear discharge, this can signify uterine fibroids that need medical attention.
- Painful intercourse or urination indicates vaginal infection or another condition that needs professional treatment. This includes burning when you pee if it’s related to a sexually transmitted infection (STI) like gonorrhea or chlamydia.
7 Ways to Deal With Vaginal Odors
While it might be embarrassing to talk with your doctor about it, vaginal odor is something most women deal with at some point in their life. There are a few simple things you can do on your own that can significantly impact how you feel and how others perceive your body! The following tips may not solve all of your vaginal odor issues. Still, they can significantly reduce the amount of time you experience strong smells and help to prevent any future problems:
1. Take a shower every day
This includes washing the outside of your vagina with warm water and mild soap. Ensure you dry your vagina thoroughly after getting out of the shower to prevent vaginal infections.
2. Wear underwear made from natural fabrics
Cotton is excellent for absorbing moisture while letting your vaginal area breathe on hot days. Silk or satin work well for summer wear, but wool or tightly woven fabrics are also suitable for winter wear. Whatever material you choose, make sure it’s not too tight against your skin – this can cause sweating, leading to abnormal vaginal odors.
3. Avoid scented hygiene products
Your lady parts don’t need perfumes or other chemicals to smell good—and there’s a good chance they might be causing some of the problems. Allergies to scented hygiene products can cause a yeast infection which can, in turn, lead to unusual vaginal odor. So, if you find that certain brands cause itching or burning, take a break from them.
4. Wipe from front to back
After you use the bathroom, or if your vagina becomes sweaty or moist for any reason, wipe from front to back. This will help prevent the spread of gut bacteria between your lady parts and anus, which can cause infection.
5. Change your underwear every day (more often if needed)
To prevent infections caused by bacteria coming in contact with the skin, it’s essential to change your underclothes at least once a day. If you notice that you are leaking fluids or sweat, consider changing even more often.
Abnormal Vaginal Odor Treatment
While many remedies can help reduce vaginal odor, it’s recommended that you schedule a checkup with your doctor if the smell persists after trying these remedies or is accompanied by itching or other symptoms. Your doctor can help you get to the root of the problem and provide medical advice for your specific case.
You might be surprised by how many remedies your doctor will recommend. In most cases, a simple treatment such as using a prescription-strength cream or antifungal medication is enough to cure vaginal odor. In rarer cases where an infection is present, your doctor may recommend antibiotics or other stronger remedies.
Doctors also often suggest trying over-the-counter remedies in conjunction with prescription-strength products. For example, using over-the-counter intra-vaginal globules or gel containing lactic acid are safe to use and effective in relieving abnormal vaginal discharge or odor, by cleansing the vagina, and restoring the natural pH balance.
There are some more advanced remedies for women who experience vaginal odors regularly or who cannot find any medications that work for them. These remedies include surgery, but this is rare and only recommended in extreme cases where vaginal odor is caused by serious medical conditions such as cancerous cells or tumors.
You can also ask your doctor about getting tested to determine which type of infection you have contracted. Many infections result in different symptoms, so it’s always best to get yourself checked out just in case.
When to See a Doctor?
If you’re experiencing a strong vaginal odor that persists after trying remedies or is accompanied by other vaginal symptoms, then it’s time to see your doctor. Your symptoms may be a sign of something more serious such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), cervical cancer, or sexually transmitted diseases (STD).
Your doctor will check whether the odor has been caused by an infection and prescribe remedies based on their findings. In rare cases where an infection is not present, but the cause of the odor still cannot be determined, your doctor might send you for tests at your local hospital.
Vaginal Odor Prevention
While there are some causes of vaginal odor that you can’t control, such as your menstrual cycle or natural body changes due to age, there are still many things that you can do to prevent vaginal odor from occurring.
- Use panty liners and pads on light days. If you’re experiencing vaginal discharge (mainly white or gray), it is a sign that you may have an infection. By using pantyliners and pads on your lightest days, you can catch any discharge before it begins to cause a smell.
- Don’t wear tight clothes for too long. Tight-fitting clothing can put pressure on the vagina and restrict airflow around it (which can lead to foul odors). Be sure to wear breathable underwear to allow the vagina skin to breathe.
- Use feminine hygiene products designed specifically for the female anatomy. Many women are tempted to go for cheaper feminine hygiene products because they cost less. Still, the truth is that these cheaper products are more likely to cause irritation and infection than their higher-quality counterparts.
- Don’t douche. Many women believe that douching their vagina will help them stay clean and smell fresh. However, this is harmful and can cause vaginal dryness and infection. It also helps push harmful bacteria higher up in your vagina, which can cause irritation or worse problems such as PID.
You might have a vaginal odor for many reasons, but it is normal to experience some discharge. If your symptoms persist for more than a few days or worsen, see a doctor who can help diagnose the problem and provide treatment options.