Ladies, let’s get one thing out of the way right now: Despite what your terrible ex or the latest douching ad tells you, your lady bits are supposed to have a certain scent.
Just like with the gut, your vagina has its own delicate microbiome filled with different bacteria and yeast -- many of which are incredibly helpful! And yep, those fun-loving bacteria are what gives your downstairs its signature scent.
But uh, what exactly does that typically smell like? What’s considered normal, and is it possible to get rid of a less-than-favorable odor?
If you ever find yourself asking these questions, then you came to the right place! In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the smell coming from your lady regions and how to get rid of it.
So grab your cup of coffee and get comfy -- let’s dive in!
What Causes Vaginal Odor?
Before we jump into all of the tips and tricks to combating vaginal odor, let’s first go over what causes it.
Now, it’s important to keep in mind that your vagina is supposed to have a natural odor, and each woman’s normal scent is different from the next’s. Typically, a healthy vagina smells a bit musky, and at certain times during your menstrual cycle, it may even smell a little like metallic. The smell may also change temporarily after sexual intercourse.
Usually, your vagina naturally cleans itself, and if left alone, it can maintain a healthy pH balance to control the presence of bad bacteria. However, if you detect a major difference in the smell, this may indicate that there is a problem.
Vaginal odor can happen due to many different reasons, but some of the most common reasons include:
The most common explanation for a less-than-flattering vaginal odor is an infection many of us ladies know as bacterial vaginosis (BV). BV is notorious for producing a strong, fishy smell.
BV happens when the normally acidic vagina becomes overgrown with bacteria, making it become more alkaline. In addition to the fishy odor, women can also experience itching, irritation, and a creamy discharge when they have BV.
A Forgotten Tampon
Yes, less than desirable smells can, in fact, come from foreign objects -- such as a forgotten tampon.
When this happens, the bacteria in your vagina have multiplied in the object, but once removed, the smell should go away.
Your hormones change quite a bit during ovulation as well as when your Auntie Flo comes to town, which can greatly alter your vaginal odor. Hormone treatments, such as birth control pills and vaginal creams, can also have an effect.
When it’s pretty sweaty down there, you can almost always expect it to be strong-smelling. Blame your sweat glands and bacteria!
Like your eyelids, ear canals, and armpits, your vagina also has apocrine sweat glands. These glands secrete fluid with the presence of bacteria, which can often cause a fishy vaginal smell.
They say if you love eating spices such as onions and garlic, you’ll have bad breath and smelly armpits. Well, your lady bits are also affected by the food that you eat.
According to experts, if you love consuming foods with strong, unusual scents such as garlic, asparagus, onions, broccoli, and cheese, then you’ll surely notice a change in the smell of your vagina.
Some drugs, such as herbal medicines and antibiotics, can change the way your vaginal smells. Once you stop taking the drugs, your vagina should go back to smelling like normal.
How To Get Rid of Vaginal Odor
As we mentioned earlier, your vagina does a wonderful job of cleaning itself to keep odors at bay, but on some occasions, you may need to give it a little help.
Here are some of the best tips and tricks to kick vaginal odor to the curb.
Don’t Douche, Ever
All healthy, happy vaginas contain yeast and bacteria. The normal acidity of your vag keeps yeast and bacteria in check, essentially cleaning itself. If you douche, you can easily upset this delicate balance.
When it comes to cleaning the area outside your vagina (a.k.a. your vulva), stay away from icky soaps made with questionable ingredients and stick with a pH Balancing Cleanser like the one from Love Wellness. Our powerful cleanser’s clean formula won’t irritate your sensitive skin and will help you to maintain normal vaginal pH levels while keeping to keep you squeaky clean!
Wear Cotton Undies
If you usually wear polyester, satin, or silk panties, show your down-there some love and make the switch to 100 percent cotton.
Cotton is breathable and does an excellent job wicking away sweat and fluids from your body. Excess moisture can upset the natural bacteria levels in your vagina, which can quickly lead to infections.
Probiotics, which are good-for-you bacteria, can do wonders at maintaining the natural pH balance of your vagina.
There are a ton of different probiotic supplements on the market, but we love our Good Girl Probiotics -- a powerful probiotic that maintains vaginal and urinary tract health (*mind blown*).
Good Girl Probiotics is made with eight strains of good bacteria for vaginal health, whereas most companies only contain one. With a focus on reproductive health organs, the gut, and the immune system, it’s no wonder why so many ladies like us trust Love Wellness to support their feminine regions and their overall health.
Try Boric Acid
If you’re battling fishy smells down under, a boric acid suppository like The Killer from Love Wellness will be your vagina’s new best friend.
A simple but powerful single-ingredient solution for maintaining healthy levels of vaginal yeast and bacteria as well as a balanced vaginal pH, boric acid has been used for years as a secret weapon to combat unpleasant intimate smells.
You can either use The Killer on the spot as needed, or for a few days in a row. All you have to do is insert the powerful suppository vaginally and lookout for a little discharge. After a day or two, you’ll be right as rain.
Use Internal Menstruation Products
Some ladies might notice a stronger vaginal odor during menstruation, smelling similar to iron or ammonia. Thankfully, some menstrual products can trap odor, compounding this annoying effect.
To reduce unwanted vaginal odor due to your time-of-month, try using internal products such as a tampon or menstrual cup. The moisture of maxi pads and reusable cloth pads are notorious for contributing to unpleasant vaginal odors.
And, not to mention, sitting on a wet pad all day can also give rise to infection, which -- you guessed it -- can lead to odor.
Cut Out the Sugar and Amp Up Hydration
Believe it or not, consuming sugary foods can trigger an overgrowth of yeast -- which can, unfortunately, strengthen the odor of your vagina. You see, yeast will eat off of the sugar you eat, and that’s how they’ll grow, eventually turning into one big yeast infection.
Additionally, remaining well-hydrated prevents bacterial overgrowth. It can also prevent sweat from smelling funky, resulting in a less pronounced vaginal odor. So, simply put -- skip the sweats and drink plenty of H2O instead.
Avoid Wearing Tight Clothes
Clothes that are too tight (like your favorite pair of leggings) don’t let your vagina and groin area breathe. Getting plenty of oxygen is of the utmost importance to good vaginal health. Stick with breathable fabrics to give plenty of O2 to your sensitive lady bits.
A Final Word
If you’re experiencing vaginal odor, take a deep breath and rest assured knowing you are not alone.
Strong smells coming from our lady bits are perfectly normal and can usually be fixed in a blink-of-an-eye with the tips and tricks we have listed above.
However, you know your vagina best -- if you notice it’s been smelling extra strong and stays that way even after trying some of the methods above, it’s best to make an appointment with your gyno.