Vaginal odor is a common problem faced by many women and it can be very embarrassing. The social, psychological, sexual, and financial consequences are high. So, if you’re struggling with vaginal odor and have tried everything to rid yourself of the problem, here’s what you need to know.
What is it?
Vaginal odor is any odor that originates from the vagina. The vagina is a delicately balanced ecosystem that requires a pH of 3.8 to 4.2 to maintain its health and integrity.
The vagina contains an environment rich in bacterial flora and fluids that produce moisture and secretions. Alterations in the pH create a proliferation of organisms present in the vagina, which causes vaginal infections. Women in the reproductive years will produce about 1.6 to 4.8 g of discharge per day.
The secretions are made from the vaginal epithelium, giving discharge the creamy white appearance, and the vaginal transudate (extra-vascular fluid), which provides the moisture. The combination of vaginal fluid and bacteria that make up the vaginal discharge, at times, can emit certain odors. Most of these odors are natural and normal, but there are times when excess odor can signal a problem.
What Causes it?
Vagina Smell can be due to a number of reasons. Common causes of abnormal vaginal odor include:
The vagina normally harbors healthy bacteria, but if something disturbs the ecosystem, then unhealthy bacteria like Bacterial Vaginosis can take over. Bacterial vaginosis is an overgrowth of normally occurring vaginal bacteria. It is the most common vaginal infection that causes a vaginal odor. A fishy vaginal odor, in particular, is caused by it.
Hygiene plays an important role to prevent your vagina from imparting a foul smell.
Retained Or Forgotten Tampon
While the odor is particularly offensive, it does resolve quickly after the tampon is removed.
Trichomoniasis, which is a sexually transmitted infection can also lead to vaginal odor.
The amount of discharge varies throughout menstrual cycles. Hormonal therapies, birth control pills and vaginal creams can have an effect on the vaginal pH and odor as well. Hormonal changes caused by menstruation, menopause or even pregnancy may cause vaginal odor with a foul-smelling watery discharge.
Spicy food that contains a lot of chilies and peppers tends to increase the amount of vaginal discharge, thus increasing the associated odor.
Odoriferous Foods That Cause Body Odor
Medications such as antibiotics can affect the bacterial balance of your vagina leading to changes in odor and discharge.
Just like any other part of your body, there are sweat glands in your vaginal area as well. A steady accumulation of sweat around your vagina may cause an unpleasant odor.
The Less commonly vaginal odor may result from cancer. However, both cervical and vaginal cancer may cause odor causing vaginal discharge.
Symptoms of Vaginal Odor: What Causes My Vagina to Have a Bad Smell?
Abnormal vaginal odor can leave you feeling uncomfortable, but it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Think about it, when have you ever noticed another female’s vaginal smell? Chances are, you haven’t.
Intensifying odor from your vagina can indicate infection or illness. The following chart will help you determine the cause of your vaginal odor by outlining what the consistency and color of your discharge mean.
|The color of discharge||Consistency||Accompanying symptoms||Possible causes|
|Clear, white or whitish, pale yellow||Thin or thick, sticky, elastic||No other symptoms||Normal discharge|
|White||Thick and cheesy (like cottage cheese)||Swollen vulva, pain – especially during sexual intercourse, itching, burning, white residues that cannot be wiped off||Yeast infection|
|White, grey or yellow||Thick or thin||Fishy odor, itching, burning, swollen vulva, redness and irritation||Bacterial vaginosis|
|Yellow or cloudy||Can be of a different consistency||Pain in the pelvic region, vaginal bleeding or spotting in between periods, urinary incontinence||Gonorrhea|
|Yellow or greenish||Bubbly, foamy||Strong odor, itching, pain while urinating||Trichomoniasis|
|Brown or with traces of blood||Can be of a different consistency||Pain in the pelvic region, vaginal bleeding or spotting in between periods||Irregular periods. Brownish discharge can also appear at the beginning of your menstrual bleeding or at the very end.|
|Pink||Can be of a different consistency||No other symptoms||If you recently had a baby, this is most likely the uterine lining shedding – normal occurrence after the delivery|
Whatever the reason may be, vaginal odor can be very embarrassing. There are some home remedies that can help you get rid of vaginal odor.
7 Home Remedies for Vaginal Odor
Practice good hygiene
Clean the outside of your vagina regularly.
Avoid scented products
Using scented soaps or feminine products often have chemicals that irritate the vagina’s PH which can cause a bad smell.
Wear cotton underwear
Satin, silk and polyester panties can retain moisture, upsetting your natural bacteria levels and leading to foul odors.
The probiotics in yogurt will help balance your PH and prevent the overgrowth of harmful bacteria that cause odors.
Drink cranberry juice
The acidity and antioxidants in cranberries, as well as citrus fruits, can help reduce vaginal odor by discouraging bacterial growth.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil contains strong antifungal properties as well as being a great antiseptic. These characteristics help get rid of bacteria that may contribute to the problem of vaginal odor and discomfort. (1)
Add a few drops combined with water and witch hazel on a cotton pad and then applying it to the affected area daily can make a big difference. Make sure to dilute with the water and witch hazel since tea tree oil can cause some initial sensitivity to the groin area.
It may seem odd to take one foul smell to get rid of another, but garlic is known for its antimicrobial and antifungal properties. It’s a natural antibiotic that may be just the remedy for vaginal infections as well as vaginal odor. The antifungal properties that garlic contains can help fight a yeast infection, which, in turn, gets rid of bad bacteria. (2)