There is a common misconception among women when it comes to the vagina, one of them is the vagina should have no smell, this is not totally correct as odor is a complex and everyone has a smell or odor,
When this becomes a problem is when this scent becomes unbearable or unpleasant that may require a trip to the doctor to complain about it.
Here are some causes of an offensive vaginal smell
- A Vaginal Infection
This is actually one of the most common causes of a vaginal smell, the vagina has its own bacteria called lactobacilli, that gives the vagina an acidic pH, less than 4.5. Sometimes, these bacteria can be killed off or overshadowed by other kinds of microbes.
What is described above is called bacterial vaginosis and can cause vaginal discharge which may be gray or whitish, and the smell is said to be fishy, this infection is said to be sexually associated and not transmitted, as it is common in sexually active women. Usually treated by a doctor using antibiotics
Another cause of a smell is Trichomoniasis, this is sexually transmitted and also has a greenish discharge associated with it.
A yeast infection may also have an offensive smell also, but will have vaginal itching and burning and happens when fungi overgrows the normal bacteria in the vagina. Easily treated with antifungals
- Your Food
Sometimes, what you eat is excreted through your skin, armpits, sweat galnds majorly and the same goes for the vagina,
Research has shown that strong meals like pepper, garlic, onion, fish, tend to change or affect the smell of your vagina, If you don’t have a vaginal infection, you can try looking at your diet and try reducing one of these and see if the smell improves
Because of the location of the vagina in the groin, it prone to sweat and as such, moist areas are associated with smell, especially when sweaty. Also, the groin has a special kind of sweat glands known as the apocrine glands which secrete a special kind of fluid that is broken down by bacteria to give off a noticeable smell.
When you wear tight clothing for too long, you can cause moisture and sweat to build up in these areas, best to wear cotton as they best absorb these sweat and fluids, don’t forget to change them often
- A forgotten tampon
Isolated cases of people forgetting tampons in their vaginas have been reported and this can cause a bad odour from the vagina as the blood and menstrual products are broken down and this can lead to a serious infection known as Toxic Shock Syndrome which may be life-threatening.
If you use tampons, change them very often, as soon as they get soaked, a rule of thumb is every 4 hours, but if you get heavy flows, then you should change more often than usual
How to prevent bad vaginal smells
If the smell is associated with discharge and lower abdominal pain, please see a doctor,
But here are some things you can do to help the smell:
- Wear cotton underwear.
- Wear loose underwear.
- Change your clothes immediately after exercising.
- Don’t douche. It removes the good bacteria in the vagina, which help prevent infection.
- Use mild soaps around the vagina, avoid harsh irritating products