Vaginal odor is one of the most common problems that affect the females once they hit the age of puberty. As the name implies, any odor that originates from the vaginal region is termed as vaginal odor. A slight odor is usually considered normal, but excessive of it that resembles fishy smell indicates towards a severe issue that needs to be taken care of (1). While many of you might prefer douching with water as you look for potent solutions on how to get rid of vaginal odor, there are many easy and amazing home remedies that you can add to the list. But before we proceed to the solutions, let us explore the problem in detail together.
Symptoms of Vaginal Odor
The symptoms of vaginal discharge vary from one person to another. Some of the most common symptoms include the following (2):
- A high amount of thick white water discharge
- Discharge that smells foul or fish-like secretion
- Discharge that has metallic-smell
- Green or yellow discharge
- Itching or pain in the vaginal region
- Pain in the lower abdominal region
- Pain during intercourse
- Burning sensation in the vaginal area
It might be possible at times that the abnormal odor from the vagina is not accompanied by above-mentioned symptoms. However, this does not symbolize that the problem is not worthy of attention (3).
What Causes Vaginal Odor?
Vaginal odor is associated with multiple factors. Some of the common causes have been listed here (4):
- Vaginal infection such as trichomoniasis and bacterial vaginosis
- Ongoing menstrual cycle
- Normal sweating
- Hormonal changes or imbalance such as alteration in the estrogen levels during pregnancy, breastfeeding or menopause
- Unchanged tampon for a long duration
- Usage of external chemicals to clean the vaginal area that can lead to disturbance in the vaginal flora
- Consuming edibles that stimulate vaginal odor such as starchy food, yeast-rich food, sweets, etc.
Of the given causes, bacterial vaginosis is one of the most common vaginal infections that cause vaginal odor (5).
What to do in order to Avoid Vaginal Odor?
- Appropriate intimate hygiene is a must.
- Change the tampons and sanitary napkins frequently after a specific interval of time.
- Make it a habit to wipe the front and the back after excretion every time.
- Wash the genitals with lukewarm water and doctor recommended aids regularly every day.
- Make sure to clean your private parts after having an intercourse.
- Stay hydrated by consuming plenty of water.
- Wear cotton undergarments and change them at least in 12 hours.
- Consume food rich in vitamin C, or the one that is categorized as probiotic or prebiotic.
What not to do in order to Avoid Vaginal Odor?
- Do not prefer tight-fitting undergarments.
- Say no to unprotected intercourse.
- Do not use hot water for bathing.
- Do not use scented soaps or fragrances around the intimate organs.
- Do not use scented sanitary napkins.
- Do not consume caffeinated drinks, starchy and spicy food, or the edibles with high sugar or yeast content.
In a Nutshell
Discomfort around the intimate parts is one of the most embarrassing as well as annoying things one can suffer from. While you might not feel like discussing it with even to closest person, these home remedies to get rid of vaginal odor come handy to treat vaginal odor naturally at home. Having said that, do not go too experimental in case the symptoms worsen any further and visit a doctor as soon as possible. Also, ensure that you follow the precautionary measures in order to lead a healthy life.
Is It Normal to Have Vaginal Odour During Pregnancy?
Vaginal odour is a lot more common than you think. Over 65% of pregnant women have smelly vaginal discharge during early pregnancy. At least 6 out of 10 women experience a fishy odour from their vagina during pregnancy. So yes, it is normal.
A strong vaginal odour during pregnancy may be due to one of several reasons such as altered pH balance, sweat, infections, hormonal and dietary changes, etc. If the cause is not a medical condition, then the odour will disappear after the baby is born. Even in women who are not pregnant, sweat and diet changes could produce strong odours in the vagina.
Various causes of vaginal odour include:
- Infections: Vaginal infections during pregnancy can cause strong or foul odours. A yeast infection is caused by the excessive multiplication of naturally occurring fungi in the vagina. This causes persistent itchiness and a discharge with a smelly odour. Bacterial vaginitis is an infection caused by the proliferation of bacteria in the vagina. Studies have shown that a bacterial infection can affect as much as 50% of a given population.
- Dietary Changes: Dietary changes can cause strong odours to emanate from the vagina during pregnancy. For instance, during pregnancy, if a woman consumes more garlic or spices this could change the odour of the vaginal discharges.
- Altered pH Balance: The natural pH of the vagina is between 3.8 to 4.5, which is in the acidic range. This acidic pH is caused by beneficial bacteria or natural vaginal flora that lives in the vagina and produces lactic acid. During pregnancy, excess blood supply to the vaginal region causes this pH to change. This makes the vagina vulnerable to bacterial infections such as vaginitis, causing the fishy or foul odorous discharge.
- Hormonal Changes: The body undergoes a lot of hormonal changes during pregnancy. Pregnant women produce hormones such as progesterone and oestrogen to help in the formation of the placenta and provide the baby with nourishment. They also produce the hormone prolactin which helps with lactation. These hormones can cause an increase in vaginal discharge with unpleasant odours.
Vaginal odour and smelly discharges can be treated and prevented in the following ways:
- Stay Clean and Dry: Ensure that the vagina is as clean and dry as possible. Shower more frequently and cleanse the vagina with lukewarm water and a mild soap or doctor prescribed feminine hygiene wash. Keep the pubic hair short and neat.
- Avoid Cosmetics: Avoid cosmetics such as scented feminine sprays, vaginal wipes, etc. Avoid any products like soaps that are harsh on the skin as they will strip away the natural bacteria living in the vagina, leaving it vulnerable to infections.
- Wear Cotton Underwear: Avoid synthetic material and use only soft cotton underwear that allows the skin down there to breathe and absorbs excess sweat.
- Try Changing Your Diet: Try changing your diet to include a lot of fruits and vegetables suited for pregnancy. Avoid too many spices and excess garlic. This may alter the smell of sweat and reduce the vaginal odour.
- Use Doctor Prescribed Medication: In case an infection is causing the vaginal odour, consult a doctor and use prescribed antibiotics to eliminate the infection.
When to Visit the Doctor
While the cause for vaginal foul smell during pregnancy may be simple things like sweat or diet changes, it is important to consult a doctor to ensure that there are no infections or other conditions that may cause harm to the baby. The following are the instances when it is important to consult a qualified medical professional:
- Persistent Foul Odour: Sometimes a foul feminine odour during pregnancy persists for a long time. If this is followed by a discharge which is yellow or green, you may need to consult a doctor. The likely suspect is either yeast or bacterial infection.
- Uncontrollable Itching: Irritation or uncontrollable itching in the vagina is also a sign of microbial infection, and it is advisable to see your gynaecologist immediately.
- STDs: Sexually transmitted diseases can also cause excessive vaginal discharge with strong odours. A qualified gynaecologist can prescribe medication to treat such conditions and ensure the good health and safety of your baby.
- Pain and Inflammation: Pain or burning sensation during intercourse or urination, inflammation and itching are all warning signals that you may have an infection and should see your doctor right away.
- Other Signs: If the vaginal discharges contain blood, or have a cottage cheese-like appearance, or smell fishy and are greenish or yellowish in colour, it is a sign that something may be wrong, and a doctor has to be consulted as soon as possible.
Vaginal smells emanating during pregnancy could mean just about anything. It could be something as harmless as hormonal fluctuations or an infection. Thankfully, there are plenty of remedies available to reduce the smell or eliminate it completely.
Also Read: Watery Discharge During Pregnancy
When to See a Doctor for Vaginal Odor
Safety is always important and it’s essential not to leave the fate of your body in the hands of the internet.
Keep in mind that while taking care of the smelly situation on your own is possible, there may come a time when you should just see your doctor about it – even if that means from the very start.
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, you should exercise caution before using essential oils or other methods you haven’t tried out before.
If you’ve tried natural remedies and they have not been effective, or if you are just trying to wait it out, you should definitely contact your doctor.
You should also contact your doctor if the vaginal odor has other symptoms, such as itching, burning, redness, irritation, or abnormal discharge.
The vagina regularly produces vaginal discharge that can vary in color and texture, depending on what point of your menstrual cycle you are in.
In general, if your discharge is very unpleasant-smelling or looks different from what you are used to seeing, you should contact your doctor.
Best Product in 2016 – Over the Counter Product: RepHresh Vaginal Gel
One of the most effective ways to eliminate unpleasant vaginal odors is to maintain healthy vaginal pH. RepHresh can help you do that.
Designed to eliminate odors, RepHresh offers pre-filled applicators that last for three days. Each box includes a 12-day supply of applicators.
The great thing about this gel is that it’s clinically proven to maintain healthy pH levels in the vagina, which not only helps keep odors away, but prevents infections as well.
Vaginal odors are something no one wants to talk about, but if you’re experiencing a particularly strong, fishy odor, it’s time to do something about it. First, see your doctor to see what the cause is. If your doctor permits, try one of the products or remedies above to eliminate odors and restore your vagina’s healthy PH.
Causes Of Vaginal Odor During Pregnancy
There are a variety of reasons why you may be experiencing vaginal odor during pregnancy.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes:
- Hormones: Your body is going through massive hormonal changes now that you’re pregnant and that triggers all sorts of physical changes, including increased secretions from your vagina, which often cause a strong odor (source). You may also just be more sensitive to the scents around you, thanks to the extraordinary amounts of estrogen in your growing body.
- Enhanced blood supply: The increased amount of blood your body is pumping can alter your pH balance, often resulting in your lady parts having a sweet, doughy scent.
- Diet: Pregnant women are also more likely to experience changes in vaginal odor due to diet. Spicy foods, fish, coffee, garlic, onion, broccoli, and dairy products could be the cause of your unpleasant smell.
- Dehydration: If you have a strong ammonia smell, you may be dehydrated. Remember you need more fluids, as your body is working for two now.
- Yeast infection: You’re more at risk for yeast infections when you’re pregnant, because you have more sugar in your vaginal secretions on which the yeast can feed, creating an imbalance and an overgrowth of yeast (source).
- Bacterial infection: Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal infection in pregnant women and is caused by an imbalance of bacteria living in your vagina. With BV, your vaginal odor is most apparent after sex. Doctors are unsure of what causes this bacterial imbalance, but you can reduce your chances of getting BV by practicing safe sex, not smoking, and not douching (source).
- Viruses or STDs: Viruses, like herpes simplex and other STDs, could also be the cause of your unpleasant aroma.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
While vaginal odor is often completely normal during pregnancy thanks to hormones, increased blood volume, or diet, sometimes it can be a sign of an infection or virus.
It’s best to contact your healthcare provider if you have a pungent vaginal odor that lasts for an extended period or if it’s coupled with any of the following:
- Painful urination.
- Unusual discharge — change in color, consistency, and amount.
Your doctor will examine a sample of your vaginal fluid and cervical secretions to see if you have an infection.
If you have a yeast infection, your provider will most likely prescribe or recommend an over-the-counter antifungal. If your vagina or vaginal discharge has a particular “fishy” smell to it, it’s likely you have bacterial vaginosis and will be put on a course of antibiotics to clear up the infection.
How to Get Rid of Vaginal Odor
If all your tests come back negative for yeast infections, bacterial infections, and STD’s, then it’s probably just all the hormones causing your odor. It will most likely go away once your baby is born.
Until then, remember that less is more when it comes to cleaning yourself down there.
In the meantime, you can try some of these techniques to help eliminate the smell:
- Practice proper hygiene: Taking frequent showers and washing after you urinate and have intercourse will help keep the smell at bay. Avoid using loofahs, as they can create small tears and expose the area to possible infection (source).
- Don’t douche: Forcing water, or any cleansing agent, into your vagina can destroy healthy bacteria or even push an infection up into your uterus. Douching is never a good idea.
- Use cotton underwear: Wearing the right undies can help cure your pregnancy odor. Find some comfortable 100-percent cotton underwear that isn’t too tight-fitting. This will create a breathable, dry environment for your nether regions, as cotton will wick away any excess moisture from sweat or discharge.
- Change underwear frequently: Changing your underwear frequently will also help cut down on the moisture and the smell.
- Wear pantyliners: If you’re not able to change your undies all the time, you could try wearing a pantyliner to keep the moisture away.
If you’re going to use pantyliners, try to use all-cotton liners or at least liners that aren’t scented. The extra scent might be irritating to your skin and doesn’t really help the odor.
Christine Traxler, MD, OB/GYN
- Cut out tight-fitting clothes: I know yoga pants can be quite comfy, especially during pregnancy, but it’s best to wear clothes that will let your lady bits breathe.
- Switch out cosmetic products: Scented soap and other feminine products can irritate or even be contribute to the smell. Try using unscented products or even just plain warm water to keep clean.
- Change in diet: A well-balanced diet will help keep your entire body healthy, including your vagina. Make sure you’re getting plenty of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and protein. You could also try eliminating certain foods, such as garlic and broccoli, and adding in probiotic-rich foods, like kimchi and sauerkraut.
- Stay hydrated: Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water to help cut back on the ammonia scent, and encourage healthy sweating and fluid release. It’s recommended pregnant women drink somewhere between 8 to 10 eight-ounce glasses of fluids per day (source).