Vaginal odor is an often embarrassing, although extremely common condition experienced by the vast majority of childbearing aged women (8 out of 10 according to the CDC) at one point or another in their lives. According to the Centers for Disease Control, vaginal odor – is most commonly caused by a condition called bacterial vaginosis. Even so, there are many other factors that can contribute to genital odor, which is commonly described as a ‘fishy smelling,’ or ‘pungent’. Feminine odor can also be sometimes accompanied by vaginal discharge, itching, and irritation. Luckily, there are also some easy, natural, and viable solutions to get rid of this rather colloquial female condition.
What Are The Most Common Causes of Vaginal Odor?
There are many conditions, some benign and others requiring medical attention – that can cause vaginal odor. According to the ACOG (American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology), these are the most common reasons for feminine odor.
- Poor Hygiene
- Bacterial Vaginosis
- Yeast Infection
- Lodged or Retained Tampon
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases
- Rectovaginal Fistula
- Vaginal or Cervical Cancers
While some of the reasons, such as sexually transmitted diseases, and conditions such as a rectovaginal fistula may require medical attention, most causes of vaginal odor and itching are due to an imbalance in the ‘good’ bacteria or flora of the vaginal environment.
Essentially, this means that there is an excess growth of yeast, bacteria, or ‘bad’ organism cells in the vaginal environment. Along with the odor, many women experience redness, itching, and irritation from in and around the vagina when the odor is being caused by an overgrowth of bacteria.
Understanding Proper Vaginal Hygiene
It is important to note, that while poor hygiene can be a reason for feminine odor, longitudinal studies initiated by the ACOG do not recommend that women douche on a regular basis, or as a means to rid themselves of vaginal odor.
One of the reasons is because douching can actually further off the delicate flora balance of the vaginal area, and can push the infection (if one is present) into the uterus, making the condition worse.
Instead, good vaginal hygiene is described as the following:
- Always wiping front to back after a bowel movement
- Rinsing the vaginal area, including the labia during showers
- Changing pads and tampons frequently (preferably every 4 to 6 hours)
- Changing underwear daily and wearing underwear made of breathable cotton fibers
- Gynecologists also recommend avoiding using harsh soaps inside the vagina which can irritate the delicate skin in the area
- Avoid using scented products for menstrual care
Foods That Cause Vaginal Odor
Believe it or not, the foods and drinks that you consume can change your feminine odor. Just as people who eat a lot of curry tend to smell like curry, foods that you eat can cause your body to secrete certain odors.
According to a study performed at Oregon State University, foods such as coffee, onions, strong spices, excessive red meat or dairy consumption and alcohol are the main food borne culprits to feminine odors. Still, you would need to be consuming an immense amount of these foods in order to change the vaginal secretions sufficiently to cause a smell. Additionally, some natural supplements such as turmeric, and high doses of vitamin supplements – may also cause vaginal odor. The best way to decide if the odor you smell is caused by foods is to eliminate these foods from your diet one by one and see if it makes any difference.
Foods Than Can Help
One of the most widely studied and proven foods that you can eat to help eliminate feminine odor is yogurt. Yogurt naturally contains probiotics that can help to re-balance the bacterial secretions, not just in your vagina – but also in your entire body. If you are taking antibiotics, or have recurrent yeast infections, eating yogurt daily can be an easy and healthy natural option for eliminating vaginal odor.
Important: Make sure that the yogurt you choose contains LIVE and ACTIVE Lactobacillus cultures.
Herbs, Vitamins And Supplements To Cure Vaginal Odor
Vinegar – Adding about a half cup of white vinegar and salt to a hot bath can help to eliminate odors and restore the delicate pH of the vaginal environment. When proper pH of the body is restored, bacteria, flora, and organisms are unable to thrive.
Tea Tree Oil – Pure, Tea Tree Oil has antibacterial and antifungal properties that can help common bacterial growth in the vaginal area. One can combine 2-3 teaspoons of high-grade tea tree oil with water and rub the mixture into the vaginal area. Tea tree oil is also anti-inflammatory and can help to alleviate pain and itching.
Garlic – Garlic is known as nature’s antibiotic and can help to fight infection. Making a vaginal suppository with a fresh clove and gauze, or purchasing one at an herbal shop can help to fight the infection causing the feminine odor. There are also odorless garlic tablets, and vaginal garlic suppositories that you can purchase rather than making one at home.
Neem Bark Extract – According to in vitro studies performed by Drugs.com, Neem Bark is an effective internal supplement with antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties that increases white blood cell counts to help fight infection and bacteria in the body. The study showed it was effective against Candida, which is responsible for yeast infection and can help with sexually transmitted diseases.
Vitamin D – Studies have shown that women lacking sufficient serum levels of Vitamin D have higher incidences of bacterial vaginosis, a common cause of feminine odor. (If you are a vegetarian, lack of Vitamin D could be the culprit.)
Femanol – This herbal supplement is uniquely formulated to help women eliminate stubborn vaginal odor and stop recurrent vaginal infections like bacterial vaginosis. With a combined ingredients rich in Lactobacillus Acidophilus, garlic, neem bark extract, biotin, zinc and selenium, Femanol can assist in the re-establishment of healthy lactobacilli in the vaginal flora and significantly boosting one’s immune system to fight existing condition and recurrence.
When To Get Medical Help
Obviously, if you have a vaginal odor that is accompanied with a fever, cramping, pelvic pain, bleeding or yellow discharge, have had unprotected sex with a new partner – you need to seek medical attention to rule out feminine odor issues that may be a result of something more serious than bacteria or yeast build-up. If you aren’t sure, it is better to be safe and contact your doctor who can give you an examination and rule out potentially serious conditions.