What Can Help Improve Vaginal Odor
From your gut to your reproductive organs, your body is a complex system of interconnected parts that need just as much TLC as the rest of you. For women, this includes the vagina. As is the case with gut imbalance, the vagina can also experience an imbalance of good bacteria, leading to irregular vaginal odor and discharge.
Keep reading to learn more about the causes of vaginal odor and what you can do to help support a healthy vagina.
What Is Abnormal Vaginal Odor?
All vaginas — including healthy ones — emit some kind of odor. Whether you’re sexually active or not, your vagina will naturally have a scent. Your natural smell may even change depending on hormonal changes or where you’re at in your menstrual cycle. It’s when this scent becomes stronger or changes in any way that it could signify an underlying issue.
For example, a fishy smell could indicate an infection like bacterial vaginosis, while a sweet smell might suggest blood sugar issues. A strong, pungent odor could be the result of poor hygiene, and a metallic odor could indicate an STD.
Some additional smells to watch out for and their likely common causes include:
- Ammonia. An ammonia-like smell could indicate an infection or poor hygiene.
- Yeast. A sweet, bread-like smell is usually indicative of a yeast infection.
- Rotting Fish. This fishy odor could be caused by an infection like trichomoniasis or a forgotten tampon.
If you’re ever concerned about your vaginal odor, it’s always best to talk to your doctor or healthcare provider. Additionally, vaginal odor that is accompanied by pain, itching, or abnormal vaginal discharge could be a sign of something more serious and should always be treated under the care of a qualified healthcare professional.
How Can You Prevent Vaginal Odor?
Although it’s important to bear in mind that a healthy vagina should have some odor, there are still steps you can take to help reduce the amount of odor and improve overall vaginal health.
1. Wipe From Front to Back
This is important for all women, but especially for those who are prone to infections. Doing this can help prevent the spread of bacteria from the anus to the vaginal area, which can lead to unpleasant odors.
2. Avoid Scented Washes and Douches
Feminine hygiene products that contain fragrances or perfumes (like vaginal deodorants) can irritate the delicate tissues of the vagina and cause excess odor. Instead, opt for a mild, unscented cleanser when washing your genital area.
Not sure where to find one? Check out our pH Balancing Cleanser™ — a fragrance-free, totally gentle cleanser for your vulva.
3. Change Your Tampons and Pads Regularly
Just like with underwear, it’s important to make sure you change your tampons and pads frequently to avoid any unpleasant odors. For tampons, make sure you use the lowest absorbency for your flow and change them every four to eight hours.
Not only can this keep you from experiencing an unpleasant vaginal smell, it can also help preserve the balance of your vaginal flora and prevent vaginal infections.
4. Wear Breathable Underwear and Clothing
Tight clothing, especially those made with synthetic materials, isn’t very breathable and can trap sweat and bacteria. Stick to underwear made from natural fabrics such as cotton, and avoid wearing tight-fitting or restrictive clothing. Cotton underwear can help absorb moisture to keep your vagina dry and happy.
5. Stay hydrated
Drinking plenty of water helps flush out toxins from the body, including those from the vagina. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water a day to support your vaginal health.
6. Eat a balanced diet
Eating foods that are high in sugar and processed fats can lead to an overgrowth of bacteria and make the vagina more prone to odors. Try to limit your intake of these foods and instead focus on eating a balanced diet.
This can include:
- Whole grains
- Lean proteins
- Healthy fats
7. Take probiotics
Believe it or not, the beneficial bacteria Lactobacilli can help support bacterial balance in the vagina and minimize unpleasant odors — which is exactly why you’ll find it in our Good Girl Probiotics® supplement. This vaginal probiotic is made to maintain urinary tract health while balancing vaginal health pH levels and bacteria.*
8. Practice Good Hygiene Habits
Keeping your genital area clean can help prevent bad odors caused by bacteria build-up. When you’re in the shower, take extra care to rinse off any soap or shampoo that may have gotten on your genitals — even if you don’t feel particularly dirty.
9. Wear Loose-Fitting Clothing When Possible
Tight clothes aren’t just uncomfortable; they can also lead to excessive sweating, which in turn can increase the risk of bacterial infections and unpleasant odors. So, whenever possible, opt for loose-fitting clothing that allows the skin to breathe and sweat to evaporate naturally.
10. Practice Safe Sex
Having unprotected sexual intercourse can lead to infection and, ultimately, unwanted odors. Make sure to always use a condom to protect yourself and your partner from illnesses and diseases.
It’s also important to get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Regular testing can help detect any problems early and prevent them from getting worse.
If you use vaginal lubricants, make sure you use lube that won’t disrupt your vaginal pH. Many causes of vaginal odor can be attributed to an imbalance in vaginal flora, which can be triggered by an imbalanced vaginal pH.
11. Manage Stress
Stress can affect your body in many ways, including causing a shift in the pH balance of the vagina and increasing vaginal odor. Try to find ways to manage your stress levels, such as meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises, and make sure you get enough rest.
12. Use Boric Acid Suppositories
Boric acid is a natural agent that can help minimize unpleasant odors and support your body’s defenses against infections. So if you're looking to freshen up your vagina, consider using boric acid suppositories such as The Killer® — a suppository developed by doctors to maintain healthy levels of yeast.
13. See Your OB/GYN Regularly
Keep up with your annual wellness check-ups and seek medical advice about any concerns you may have. Your gynecologist can help identify any underlying health issues that could be causing your vaginal odor and provide the best treatment plan for you.
The Bottom Line
Keeping your vagina healthy and happy is an important part of maintaining overall health. Taking a few simple steps, such as wearing breathable clothing, keeping the area clean, using protection during sex, and incorporating probiotics into your diet, can go a long way in maintaining vaginal health.
After all, taking care of your vagina is essential to keeping your body healthy and happy!
For more vaginal health tips and trips, check out our blog.
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