It is normal for every woman’s vagina to have a unique smell; it is natural. Even when you notice a recent difference in its smell, it is not necessarily an infection. That change may be linked to a specific moment of your menstrual cycle because the smell of your vagina can vary depending on the time of the cycle.
Becoming familiar with the healthy smell of your vagina can help you determine when there is a problem. Changes in vaginal smell occur throughout the menstrual cycle but can also result from yeast infections, sexually transmitted infections, Trichomoniasis, Bacterial Vaginosis and some other causes.
Vaginal discharge is clear or milky white when a female is not on her period. During menstruation, this discharge keeps the vagina clean. Healthy vaginal discharge thickens and increases when you are sexually stimulated, when you are breastfeeding, or when you ovulate.
The female body has a natural method of cleansing itself and does not need the aid of douches or scented sprays. The use of scented sprays can irritate the vaginal area and cause a disturbance in the vagina’s pH balance. Cleaning the vagina with unscented soap on a daily basis is a good hygiene practice. Avoid using scented soaps, bubble baths or sprays and make sure to pat the vaginal area dry with a clean towel. Scented tampons, sanitary napkins and toilet tissue are not good to use either. Bacteria grows in wet, warm, and closed areas so avoid wearing wet clothes or wet bathing suit for an extended period of time.
As you learn the healthy smells of your body, you will be able to tell if there are health risks present. Strong, fishy odors and discolored discharge are signs that there may be a problem. Seeking medical consultation can help you determine the cause and what treatment is necessary to ensure your health.
Vaginal Odor Causes
The most common cause of vaginal odor is bacterial vaginosis, resulting from an overgrowth of organisms normally present in the vagina. The symptoms include a strong fishy odor, pain, burning during urination, grey or yellow discharge, itching or vaginal redness. The odor — usually a “fishy” smell — may be more obvious after sexual intercourse. Bacterial vaginosis is not considered as sexually transmitted infection but it exists at higher rates among women who are sexually active and who change partners often. Treatment of bacterial vaginosis may include antibiotics.
Another common cause of vaginal odor is poor hygiene. It is a good idea to wash your external genital area during regular baths or showers. Use a very small amount of mild, unscented soap and lots of water. Douching isn’t necessary. All healthy vaginas contain some bacteria and other organisms. The normal acidity of the vagina keeps bacteria and yeast in check. But douching can actually upset this delicate balance.
Trichomoniasis is a parasite that is usually contracted from having sexual intercourse with another individual who is infected. The infection may be present without symptoms. The symptoms include vaginal discharge with a strong odor, mild vaginal bleeding, itching and irritation. Men and women are vulnerable to the infection. Men may experience burning during urination or discharge from the urethra. Trichomoniasis can be prevented with proper use of a latex condom during sexual intercourse and STI screenings for both partners before they engage in sexual intercourse.
Certain contraceptives and unusual object in vagina can provoke vaginal odor and other major health issues. Vaginal and anal intercourse alternation during the same session can cause vaginal infection resulting in vaginal odor. Though rare, diet can affect the smell of your vagina. In some cases of vaginal odor, eating a healthy diet (eating fruit and vegetables abundantly) can change the condition without any medical treatment.
“Losing” a tampon in your vagina also could be a reason for vaginal smell.. This occurs when a tampon rises to the upper part of the vagina and lodges there. A forgotten tampon can result in a vaginal infection, which can produce an unpleasant odor.
Vagina can smell if you have recto-vaginal fistula. Trauma during childbirth may lead to a recto- vaginal fistula — an abnormal opening between the rectum and vagina. This allows feces to leak into the vagina, producing a fecal odor.
Cancer of the cervix or vagina also could be a rare reason for vaginal smell.
What to do when you have vaginal odor
Many women believe that vaginal odor are the result of a lack of personal hygiene and wash excessively their vagina unaware that they worsen the problem. While poor genital hygiene can be the cause, excessive washing is not the solution. Very often, women hampered by a strong vaginal odor should not begin to wash themselves intensively. That does not help at all. The first thing to do should be restoring the acidity and the balance of the vaginal flora naturally. That restoration cannot be done by excessive antibiotic intake; it decreases your immune system.
Try to avoid excessive washing, douching, tight clothes and certain chemicals (scented body washes, antibacterial soap, etc).
- Wear clean tampons and change them regularly;
- Avoid Douching, it is not necessary; it can damage or destroy the normal acidity of the vagina resulting in vaginal problems;
- If you suffer from any type of vaginal infection, it is recommended to avoid wearing tight underwear and pants so that the vagina can breathe easier. Tight clothes can irritate the vagina and cause or increase vaginal odor;
- Wearing cotton panties is also important;
- For women, after intercourse, it is important to go urinate. Urination after sex helps to remove any possible bacteria that may be outside or inside the vaginal canal that would go up in the urethra. Because once present, these microbes tend to go up into the bladder, and can cause recurrent urinary infections. Urination causes a cleansing effect, forcing the microbes outside;
- If a vaginal infection persists despite treatment, you need to see a doctor because it could be a sign of Cancer of the cervix or vagina, Bacterial Vaginosis, Chlamydia, Genital Herpes, Gonorrhea, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), Vaginitis, Yeast Infection, etc.