INSIGHTFUL (FOR WOMEN ONLY): IS VAGINAL ODOR NATURAL? (READ FOR SOLUTION)

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Unusual vaginal odor happens from time to time. Even when you’re taking good care of your body and your vagina, you may experience unfamiliar smells. What’s not normal, however, is persistent or strong odors.

The first question you should ask yourself if you consider your vaginal odor abnormal: What’s normal? Vaginas have natural odors and each woman’s odor is different. A healthy vagina’s typical scent may best be described as “musky” or “fleshy.” A menstrual cycle might cause a slightly “metallic” scent for a few days. Intercourse may change the smell temporarily.

Your vagina cleanses itself naturally. If you leave your vagina to its own devices, it can naturally maintain a healthy pH and keep unhealthy bacteria at bay. But if you notice a stark difference in your odor, then you may be experiencing a sign of a potential problem. Strong odors, itching and irritation, and unusual discharge are all signs you may have something other than just unusual vaginal odor.

Certain sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) such as trichomoniasis can cause a different odor. A woman’s vagina is naturally filled with bacteria but when there is an overgrowth, the condition is called bacterial vaginosis and causes a “fishy” odor.

Remember, not all vaginal odors are caused by an infection, however. For example, poor hygiene or tight fitting clothing or fabric that doesn’t breathe can cause sweat and bacteria to get trapped which can cause and unpleasant odor. But don’t be fooled by products such as douches or sprays that claim to “clean” your vagina. They can be harmful because they remove the fluids that naturally clean your vagina. These products (particularly the scented ones) can actually cause irritation. Simply use soap and water to clean the outside of your vaginal area. Rinse well and pat your skin with a towel until it is dry before you put your underwear on.

If your vaginal odor doesn’t go away, make an appointment with your health care provider and get checked out. There is treatment available.

7 ways to get rid of vaginal odor

Occasionally, you may need a little help getting rid of an odor. The following techniques may help you naturally eliminate unusual vaginal odors:

  1. Practice good hygiene

Clean the outside of your vagina regularly with a washcloth and mild soap. Loofahs may cause small tears and expose the area to possible infection. Cleansing will wash away dead skin, sweat, and dirt. Don’t use perfumed soaps or body washes. The scents and chemicals may upset your vagina’s natural pH. Bar soaps may be gentler than body wash.

  1. Use only exterior deodorizing products

If you want to use any sprays or perfumes, only use them on the outside of your vagina. Don’t insert them. They can upset your natural chemistry and lead to bigger problems.

  1. Change your underwear

If you normally wear satin, silk, or polyester panties, 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 your natural bacteria levels.

  1. Consider a pH product

Over-the-counter (OTC) products may be helpful for restoring your vagina’s natural pH. If you try one and the odor remains or grows worse, make an appointment with your doctor. You may need to use a different product or look for a stronger prescription alternative.

  1. Try essential oils

This treatment has very little medical research to support it, but anecdotal evidence suggests tea tree oil, a type of essential oil, helps eliminate vaginal odor. This essential oil has natural antimicrobial and antifungal properties, which may help reduce and eliminate bacteria. First, mix a few drops of tea tree oil with water. Then, apply a drop or two to the outside of your vagina. Repeat this for three to five days. If symptoms don’t improve or worsen, discontinue use.

  1. Soak in vinegar

Frequent hot baths and hot showers can upset your natural pH, but one type of bath may be useful. Pour a cup or two of apple cider vinegar into a warm bath and soak for 20 minutes. Vinegar may naturally reduce bacteria.

  1. Prescription treatments

Prescription treatments can help eliminate underlying causes that are contributing to the odor. If your home or OTC treatments aren’t successful, it may be time to seek treatment from your doctor.

When to see a doctor

If this odor is accompanied by unusual symptoms, you should skip the home treatment and consult your doctor.

For example, if your vaginal odor is stronger than normal and seems to be getting stronger, you may need an appointment. Likewise, a “fishy” smell is a reason to seek out an appointment. These odors could be signs of a problem that is not improving. You may need a medication or prescription treatment from your doctor.

Some discharge is normal. If you notice an increase in discharge or if the fluids are no longer white or translucent, you may have an infection.

Occasional itching is also normal, but if you develop a frequent itch or one that is painfully irritating, you may be experiencing signs of a bigger problem.

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