What Causes Vaginal Odor? What Can You Do? 

Are you one of the many women who wonder why no matter what you do, you can’t get rid of the funny smell arising from your lady parts? You eat healthy food, you take a shower every day, you wear clean panties and yet, you cannot get rid of the stench. You worry people around you might notice. The dilemma leaves you pondering what causes vaginal odor and how you can control them.

Vaginal Odor Causes

1.    Hormonal Changes and Menstruation

As a woman, you will go through several hormonal changes throughout your lifetime. Some are associated with your menstrual cycles and ovulation. Others will occur with menopause. During these changes, vaginal odors can become unpleasant. Changes in estrogen levels can cause a thin, watery discharge that smells different from normal vaginal secretions. Sometimes a topical estrogen can be prescribed to help combat the odors, but you should discuss possible side effects with your doctor.

2.    Sweat and Perspiration

You have sweat glands in several different parts of your body, including your groin. The same type of glands is located in your ear canals, armpits, nostrils, eyelids and nipples. The perspiration, created from the oil secreted and the bacteria found on skin, is one of the vaginal odor causes that can be remedied fairly easy. If you are overweight, dropping the extra pounds may help as sweat can get trapped. You can also use a deodorant powder designed for the sensitive area around the groin.

3.    Food You Eat

You have probably heard the expression “you are what you eat.” When it comes to odor, you should consider “you smell like what you eat.” When you eat strong smelling foods like garlic, onion, chili, cabbage, broccoli, asparagus and pungent cheeses, the odors can pass through your body and secrete from your mouth, vagina, armpits, head and even your feet. If you think a food is the cause of your vaginal odor, stop consuming it and see if it goes away.

4.    Bacterial Vaginosis

This infection is considered a sexually transmitted disease because it is usually transmitted from one person to another through intercourse. The only effective treatment is antibiotics. Typical symptoms include painful intercourse and a grey, thin discharge accompanied with a strong fishy odor. Often times, both you and your sexual partner will have to be treated at the same time in order not to pass it back and forth to each other.

5.    Trichomoniasis

This sexually transmitted disease is spread through a parasite. While some people don’t have any symptoms, others have very unpleasant ones. The common present symptoms include painful sex or urination and a frothy green or yellow discharge with a fishy odor. This infection can be treated with antibiotics once diagnosed by a doctor.

6.    Yeast Infection

A very curable infection in women is a yeast infection. The discharge caused by the ailment is one of the vaginal odor causes that are more common. Typical symptoms are smelly discharge that is thick and white or yellow in appearance. You might also have soreness, burning or itching in your genital area. An oral or topical antifungal medication usually clears up the infection fairly easily.

7.    Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

When a sexually transmitted disease goes unchecked for too long or is in its late stages, it can often result in pelvic inflammatory disease. This ailment, also called PID, is caused by a bacterial infection transmitted during intercourse. Often, it is a silent disease, not diagnosed until a woman has fertility issues or constant pelvic pain. If symptoms are present, they include an unpleasant vaginal odor, pain with sex, heavy discharge, fatigue, pelvic pain and fever. Only treatment from a doctor, typically through antibiotics, can cure this illness.

8.    Other Sexually Transmitted Diseases

There are several other sexually transmitted diseases, including the common ones of gonorrhea and chlamydia. They are both major vaginal odor causes, with symptoms including a fishy, unpleasant smelling discharge. While easy to cure with antibiotics, they can be dangerous if not treated, leading to infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease.

9.    Pregnancy

When a woman is pregnant, she undergoes several hormone changes, some of which cause excessive perspiration. This can cause the release of unpleasant smells from the groin, armpits and other parts of the body. However, the odor may not be as bad as you think. When you are pregnant, you have a better sense of smell. This means even if you detect it, those around you may not. If you are worried about the odor, use products safe for pregnancies to help rid yourself of it.

10.Laundry Detergents

When you think about detergents, you think of clean scents and eliminating odors. However, when you have an allergic reaction to its ingredients and it creates genital irritation through your underwear, the smells may not be so pleasant. The imbalance can be corrected by trying a different detergent to see if it helps.

How to Get Rid of the Odor

1.     Good Hygiene

Remember the skin in your vaginal and groin area is delicate. Restrict cleaning to a soft washcloth and mild soap. Avoid rough sponges or loofahs, as they can cause skin irritation or tears. Try using soap designed for delicate areas, looking for one that is not perfumed and does not have exfoliating properties.

2.    Use External Products Only

If you choose to treat your smell with a deodorizing product, make sure it is one for external use only. Do not use fragranced douches as they will only mask the problem and may lead to worse situations if an infection occurs.

3.    Wear aDifferent Type of Underwear

While silk and satin panties are nice to look at and can feel very soft to the skin, they also trap moisture. Wearing cotton underwear, especially 100 percent cotton, is a great way to keep your vaginal area dry. This can reduce the risk of bacteria thriving in your genital area, resulting in an unpleasant odor.

4.    Try a pH Product

When your natural pH is off balance, it can become one of the many vaginal odor causes that result in unpleasant smelling. There are several products on the market that work to restore balance. They can be bought without a prescription in the drug aisle in pharmacies, grocery stores and other retail establishments. If these don’t work, your doctor may be able to prescribe you an alternative treatment.

5.    Essential Oils

Essential oils contain several ingredients that are used for medicinal purposes. One of these oils is tea tree oil. Its antifungal and antimicrobial properties naturally work to fight bacteria. It is easy to prepare and administer. Simply mix a few drops of the oil with water. Apply two drops to the outside genital area and skin. Repeat up to five days. If the odor does not get better, stop using and see your doctor.

6.    Vinegar

If you often take showers or baths that are too hot, you can cause an imbalance in your pH levels. However, a warm bath with added vinegar can naturally and safely eliminate bacteria. Simply add a cup of apple cider vinegar to your bath and soak up to 20 minutes.

7.    Prescription Medication

Sometimes, natural or over-the-counter treatments cannot eliminate vaginal odor causes or symptoms. If this is the case, you may need prescription medication to get rid of the underlying reasons to your odor. See your doctor for diagnostic tests and treatment.

When to See a Doctor

If you have an unpleasantly strong odor from your vagina and none of the home treatments have worked to reduce the smell and other symptoms, you should make an appointment with your doctor right away. If you have an infection, your doctor will need to prescribe the correct medication.

An example of this would be a vaginal odor that is different from its usual scent and only seems to get worse over time. Also, a fishy smell is an indication of infection, so a doctor visit should be scheduled as soon as possible. You may need an antibiotic to clear up the underlying cause.

Remember, occasional genital itching and some vaginal discharge is perfectly normal. However, if you notice a change in the appearance and amount of discharge, it can be an indication of an infection. Also, if the itching sensation is constant or the discharge is thick and yellow, you may have more than a simple ailment. It is important to see your doctor for diagnosis.