However, a strong and “fishy” smell, or a strong vaginal odor might be abnormal and could indicate a problem. An abnormal vaginal odor is normally accompanied and associated with other vaginal signs and symptoms such as itching, burning, irritation or discharge. An abnormal odor is not only something that makes a lady lose her confidence in her womanhood, but may also have negative consequences in sex life which might also translate into relationship difficulties. Read on...
Common causes of unpleasant vaginal odor
- Poor Hygiene. The genital areas are prone to bacteria and yeast growth of the hygiene is poorly maintained.
- Bacterial vaginosis. Bacterial vaginosis is a type of vaginal inflammation that results from the overgrowth of one of several types of bacteria normally present in the vagina, upsetting the natural balance of vaginal bacteria. Women in their reproductive years are most commonly affected by bacterial vaginosis, but any woman can experience the condition. Doctors don't know exactly why bacterial vaginosis develops, but certain activities, such as unprotected sexual intercourse or frequent douching, put you at higher risk of the condition.
- Odor after sex. When a lady has unprotected sex and the male ejaculates in her, the semen may alter the vaginal fluids PH leading to change in vaginal odor. Some women are allergic to semen and it causes in them bacteria buildup, yeast infections and urinary track infections.
- Pregnancy. 9 out of 10 women experience an unusual vaginal odor during pregnancy which is due to immense hormone secretions and overworking sebaceous sweat glands in the vaginal area that are stimulated into a frenzy during pregnancy.
- Sexually Transmitted Infection. An STI can easily make the vagina produce a bad strong odor.
How to get rid of vaginal odor and prevention
- Eating plenty of plain yogurt is found to be effective. Make sure that this is organic, unflavored yogurt, especially the non-sugary type. Yogurt is rich in lactobacillus, which helps to restore the normal vaginal pH level, helping to prevent the condition from recurring.
- Apple cider vinegar helps restore the acidic quality of the vaginal flora and fights off the toxins that cause infection. Simply indulge in a long bath with two to three cups of this natural antibacterial agent in your bathing water to achieve quick results.
- Garlic is one of nature’s most powerful antibiotics. Inserting a clove of garlic into your vagina and retaining it for a couple of hours can alleviate the bad vaginal odor to a large extent.
- Pour half cup of vinegar and half cup of salt into a bathtub and soak several times a week. This will help to balance the vaginal pH.
- Avoid douching. Instead, wash with warm water and mild soap. You may find a hand held shower attachment can help you to feel cleaner. Be sure to wash the labia and inner folds of the vagina as well.
- Wear cotton panties and loose fitting clothes. Tight jeans and fabrics that don’t allow your vagina to breathe can result in vaginal sweating, causing bacteria build-up, an eventually will cause an odor.
- Always wipe front to back after bowel movements to avoid spread of rectal bacteria.
- Change pads, tampons, and pantie-liners frequently.
- Change underwear daily.
- Avoid using scented product, harsh laundry detergents, or feminine products designed to ‘freshen’ the vagina.
- Discourage growth of pubic hair. Please don’t let the afro thrive down there! This is a major cause of bad smell. The presence of ample pubic hair, contained within a warm, damp and dark environment will increase any musty odor. Shave it often.
- Because bacteria thrive in moist environments, it’s important to dry the entire vaginal area after taking a shower or bath.
- Eat healthy. A diet that is high in red meats (nyama choma anyone?), spicy foods and dairy products can make not only the feaces and the body smell bad, but it can also contribute to the smelly vaginal by making it more offensive than usual.
- Stick to one man policy! Many people have a problem with a foul odor in the vagina after intercourse. The pH of semen, along with the extra secretions during sex can create a cocktail of odorous proportions. Top that off with the various secretion from different men and you have a disaster in your hands
If you feel the smell is offensive, onsets suddenly, or is accompanied by other symptoms like itching, pelvic pain, unusual discharge, don’t hesitate: see a qualified medic as soon as possible.
What changes can I do to minimize vaginal odor?
- Wear clean underwear made of cotton, breathable fabrics.
- Avoid tight clothing.
- Bathe regularly, using warm water, and mild soap to clean the vaginal area.
- Make sure to avoid scented female products and douches to clean the vagina.
- Change pads and tampons regularly when menstruating.
- Use barrier methods of birth control if semen causes you a problem.
- Always wipe front to back after bowel movements.
- Avoid spicy and starchy foods, and alcohol and caffeinated beverages.
- Make it a habit to include fresh fruits and leafy vegetables in your daily diet. You will see (or smell) the changes in a couple of weeks.
- Eat yogurt daily, which is full of live and active cultures which can balance the delicate flora (good bacteria) of your vagina.
- Urinate and wash immediately after sex to flush bacteria from the vaginal area.
Make sure to read Vaginal Health.