Vaginal odors: where do these unpleasant smell come from?
A bad vaginal smell can be a sign of infection by bacteria or parasites. These infections are common in women and may resolve spontaneously or require antibiotic treatment.
What is a normal vag smell?
Well, it’s not easy to define as each healthy woman may have slightly different, but if you think your vag is a bit “off,” then it probably is.
In every woman, the vagina has a particular smell. This can typically vary throughout the menstrual cycle and become, for example, slightly more acidic during menstruation. A small difference in smell is therefore not always an alarming sign. This is why it is important to get to know its natural smell. However, if the smell is very different and unpleasant, it can be a sign of infection.
Remember that the vagina naturally contains many micro-organisms that makeup what is called the vaginal flora. It maintains an acidic environment in the vagina and thus contributes to its protection against infections. Any change in the balance of these microorganisms can affect vaginal odor.
What causes vaginal smells? Why it smells?
The two most common causes of abnormal vaginal odor are:
- Bacterial infection (or bacterial vaginosis). Most often it is due to the bacterium Gardnerella vaginalis. This is naturally present in the vagina, but in some cases, it can multiply abnormally and take over other bacteria. It produces a smell called “rotten fish”;
- Parasitic infection by “Trichomonas vaginalis” (trichomoniasis). It is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that efficiently treated.
The abnormal vaginal smell is not the only characteristic symptom of these infections. Itching, burning, local pain, redness or abnormal vaginal discharge (leucorrhea) may accompany it.
Yeast infections or Chlamydia and Neisseria gonorrhoeae (gonorrhea) do not usually cause vaginal odors.
Certain diseases or behaviors can promote infections. For example:
- poor hygiene or, on the contrary, excessive cleanliness;
- antibiotic treatment;
- recto-vaginal fistula (an abnormal opening between the rectum and vagina that causes feces to flow into the vagina);
- cervical cancer;
- vaginal cancer.
- Evolution and possible complications
- If the infection responsible for the bad vaginal odor is not treated, it can worsen and also increase the risk of contracting other diseases. Trichomoniasis, for example, increases the risk of contracting or transmitting the AIDS virus (HIV).
- Bacterial vaginosis during pregnancy increases the risk of premature delivery.
What food can make your vag smell bad?
Answer: in most cases, the food you take is not related to your smell, so take it easy and eat what you like.
Treatment and prevention: what solutions?
In the event of an abnormal vaginal odor, the doctor will take a sample to determine whether the infection is due to a bacterium or a parasite and propose an appropriate antibiotic treatment. In case of trichomoniasis, he may decide to treat the sexual partner as well.
Infections are more common in sexually active women, and multiple partners increase the risk of developing vaginosis.
Good intimate hygiene is vital to limit the risk of infection. But this does not require any particular technique; your vagina is self-cleaning. Therefore, use a mild soap on the pubic hair and outside the vulva. Avoid excessive rubbing or douching (introducing water with or without soap into the vagina). Particular cleansing products should also be avoided, as they can alter the natural balance of microorganisms in the vagina and promote infections. Shaving or intimate hair removal are also risk factors, as hair has a protective role.
Is vaginal smell a sign of good health?
Sometimes an unusual smell can signal a health problem, such as a lost tampon or bacterial vaginal infection, but sometimes this olfactory change can mean the end of your menstrual period.
Generally, an odor that indicates something is wrong is accompanied by other symptoms (itching, swelling, discharge or painful urination), although sometimes the odor may be your only (or primary) sign of a possible malfunction.
Four vaginal odors and their meaning :
1. The smell of fish: (why does vaginal smell like fish?)
An intense fishy smell can be a sign of two vaginal infections common in young women: bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis. Bacterial vaginosis is associated with an imbalance of bacteria in the contamination of the vagina and does not constitute a sexually transmitted infection, although it can transmit through sexual intercourse with a new partner. Trichomoniasis, on the other hand, is a curable STD, very common in developed countries. Both infections smell like fish (with white or grey discharge) as a symptom, and both can quickly cure with antibiotics prescribed by your doctor.
Both can also have symptoms very similar to those of fungal infections so that in situations like this, the odor is the key to diagnosing it correctly.
2. Metallic odor:
A metallic smell in your vagina is okay during your period, or if you had intimate contact with semen, which can both change the pH of the vagina. In both cases, the metallic odor should be temporary. If it persists long after your period with itching and discharge, consult a gynecologist.
3. Bread yeast smell:
Often fungal infections have no odor, but you will soon find that you have other symptoms like thick white discharge and itching. In some cases, your vagina emits a slight smell like bread, or yeast, which can smell a little moldy. The odor is never the only symptom of a yeast infection, but it can help distinguish bacterial vaginosis from other infections that irritate your vagina in the same way.
4. Putrid odor:
If your vagina suddenly gives off a strong rotten smell, contact your obstetrician/gynecologist immediately. This is certainly serious for your health and could be a sign of a parasite that appeared in your vagina during your last period tampon.
Don’t be shy to book an appointment with your doctor about these questions. These are all common gynecological problems, and your doctor will be able to guide you to ensure better vaginal hygiene.
What and how to do when your vagina smells?
Below we list 10 best home remedies that can help you get rid of vaginal odors without having to consult a doctor.
1. Avoid tight cloth
Like your body, your private parts must also be able to breathe. Cotton underwear makes breathing easier. It is advised not to wear synthetic materials because they can cause excessive perspiration responsible for bad smells.
2. Gently with soap
Using too much soap to clean your private parts can disrupt the production of natural chemicals. The result is an undesirable odor. Instead, wash them with a special intimate hygiene product, a homemade product. Add a few drops of rose water and glycerin to a cup of water and use it to wash private parts.
3. Yogurt is a wonderful remedy
Yogurt may not be your favorite food, but it can significantly reduce vaginal odor. A sting vaginal smell is a sign of a yeast infection. Germs in yogurt can help fight illness and minimize odor. Eat plain yogurt, preferably with meals to recover the typical pH of the vaginal area.
4. Prevention is better than cure
It is wise to write down everything you eat and get rid of foods that activate the terrible smell. Foods that contain a lot of sugar or yeast are delicious and tasty. However, they frequently cause a vaginal smell. You should avoid them to reduce yeast infection and thereby reduce vaginal odor.
5. Tea tree oil
If you use scented wipes and vaginal deodorants, it’s time to put them in the garbage. These products can be the reason that interferes with the pH balance of the vagina and generates an infection and an unpleasant odor. To get rid of odors, use tea tree oil diluted in water as a vaginal cleanser. This oil is both antibacterial and antifungal. It can thus perfectly slow down the infection while fighting against the bad smell.
6. Chlorophyll, our green friend
Chlorophyll can do wonders in reducing vaginal odor. The chlorophyll fluid works as a great deodorant and helps mitigate unwanted and strong odor. Chlorophyll fluid is readily available in many pharmacies. Consume one tablespoon of chlorophyll sweetened with 240 ml of water, and you will never have to go to the doctor to eliminate the vaginal smell.
7. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is another more powerful and infallible solution when it comes to vaginal odor control. Add a cup of cider vinegar to your bathtub and sit in it for a few minutes to remove contaminants that create the vaginal odor. Apple cider vinegar which is acidic has antibacterial properties that will undoubtedly help you eliminate the odor caused by germs.
Some may question the power of garlic in treating vaginal odor because of its overpowering odor. Despite this characteristic, garlic is undeniably one of the best-known home remedies to eliminate vaginal odor. You can take garlic capsules or peel fresh garlic, cover it and put it in the vaginal area.
When consumed daily, fenugreek helps control hormone levels in women. It also promotes regular periods. Soak some fenugreek seeds overnight and drink their water on an empty stomach in the morning. You can also make herbal teas from these seeds or add them directly to your meals.
10. Baking soda
If you think baking soda is only used in pies and bread recipes, you’re wrong. Vaginal odor intensifies when the body’s pH level is altered. Baking soda helps return the pH level to normal. Put two teaspoons of baking soda in your bath and enjoy the benefits of this bath. Don’t stop there. Add a teaspoon of baking soda to a glass of warm water and swallow. You’ll be surprised how quickly baking soda helps get rid of the smell.
Keep in mind that if panty liners, tampons or other materials come in direct contact with your private parts, they can cause the production of yeast or bacteria causing bad vaginal odor. If you cannot ban them, at least limit the usage.