The odors our body naturally produces can sometimes embarrass us. Most of us have gone to an important meeting or shown up at a date worried that we’re sweating noticeably, or have taken off our shoes and cringed at the odors. But, for people who have vaginas, there’s the possibility of a smell from there as well. While a faint odor is normal and natural, stronger odors or certain types of odors can actually be a signal that something is wrong. If we encounter those, we might wonder what these odors mean. The body changes so much throughout life that it can be hard to match a certain odor with a certain problem. That’s why I’m here, to help demystify vaginal odors and show you how to naturally stop them from troubling you, once and for all.
Ways To Stop Vaginal Odor Naturally
The vagina is a complex ecosystem, with a delicate vaginal microbiome. The term vaginal microbiome refers to the level of bacteria in your vaginal canal. There’s no need to be alarmed about vaginal bacteria, in fact it naturally protects you and works in harmony with the rest of your body, just like your gut microbiome does.
The Vaginal Microbiome And Odor
The average vaginal microbiome, if you’re of reproductive age, is between ten billion and one hundred billion strong. “The host provides a humid, nutritious, and warm habitat for the microbes,” explains one research team, “whereas the resident microbiota produces antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory factors.” One strain of this bacteria, called lactobacillus, is very important in stopping vaginal issues. Not only are bacteria important, but the pH of the vaginal canal needs to be balanced too. Below, we’ll look at some of the things that can stop your vaginal health from being the best it can be, and how to naturally restore order to your odors. (1)
Too Much Cleaning Can Stop Your Body From Naturally Clearing Vaginal Odors
You’ve probably noticed, vaginal odor is a pretty taboo subject. Because of that, many people with vaginas try to keep it very clean – but that’s not the right thing to do at all. And overly-clean vagina is terrible for its health, as this can stop the good bacteria from sticking around. Using soaps or body washes that have irritating or too-harsh chemicals can stop your vaginal odor from self-regulating. In fact, one of the biggest culprits is scented soaps. Similarly, douching is a bad idea. No cleaning products should be going inside the vaginal canal. When you clean your vagina, wash the outside with warm water and gentle soap so you aren’t damaging the vaginal mucosal tissue.
Safely Clean Your Vaginal Area To Stop Odor
Another strategy I recommend is an apple cider vinegar sitz bath: fill up your bathtub with about 6 inches of warm water, and add 1-2 cups of apple cider vinegar. This will re-calibrate the vaginal bacteria and pH balance, bringing a stop to the unpleasant odors. (2)
The Menstrual Cycle and Vaginal Odors
Dr. Jessica Shepherd is an assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology, as well as the director of Minimally Invasive Gynecology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago. She says that you can stop worrying about vaginal odors during your period. Blood naturally has a higher pH than your vaginal canal, so the bleeding from your period is just throwing your system a little out of whack. While you naturally might be concerned, there’s no reason to be. The unusual vaginal odors will stop once your period ends. (3)
Yeast Causes Vaginal Odors
Having a yeast infection is itchy and unpleasant. It is also a cause of vaginal odors. A yeast infection occasionally can cause either a sweet or sour odor. Additionally, yeast infections can stop the production of good bacteria, which causes additional odor. (4)
Use Naturally-Sourced Suppositories to Stop Vaginal Odor
Tea tree oil suppositories, as long as they are specifically intended for the vagina, have been shown to work. Studies indicate they can have a fungicidal effect, which is great for treating yeast infections. Tea tree oil suppositories have also been shown to help restore the vaginal microbiome and stop odors.
Boric acid suppositories can put a stop to vaginal odors on two fronts: it balances pH and combats yeast infections too.
Some may prefer to use vaginal suppositories during the morning, but others prefer to use them at night. I recommend that if you are using both in conjunction, start with boric acid in the morning; it is less messy than tea tree oil. After inserting a suppository, you may want to use a menstrual pad or panty liner to block stains on your underwear. (5, 6)
How Vaginal Hygiene Products Can Cause Odors
As we saw when looking at the impact of the menstrual cycle on vaginal odors, pH balance can stop your vaginal odors from smelling like normal. However, the menstrual cycle isn’t the only thing that can change the pH balance of your vaginal canal. Anything that is introduced into the inside of your vaginal canal can change its pH, so tampons could be interfering with your vaginal levels. Dr. Lauren Streicher is a professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She says that “every gynecologist has had the experience of a woman coming in with an odor, discovering it was a forgotten tampon, and feeling mortified.”
How To Stop Menstrual Product Odors
But it’s not always a forgotten tampon. Check out my video on some of the best feminine hygiene products to use. If you are having issues with your current tampons, you can easily find something which will work better for you.
Sex, The Vaginal Cavity, And Odor
Penetrative sex also has an impact on your pH, as it is the insertion of matter that is foreign to your vaginal canal. Additionally, if you have unprotected vaginal sex, semen has an elevated pH, like blood, which can affect you. But to a large degree your body is able to naturally cleanse disruptions and restore balance if you just let it do its thing.
Stop Vaginal Odors By pH Monitoring
Since vaginal pH is not something you can identify by sight, it’s important to have a way to check. Seeing if your vaginal pH is within an ideal range (3.5 – 4.5) can help rule out some causes of vaginal odors. A simple and naturally effective way to tell is through using vaginal pH strips, which you can buy here. (3)
Clothing Tips To Stop Vaginal Odor
Heat and moisture can affect your vaginal microbiome and pH balance, so wearing the right fabrics is an easy way to naturally combat vaginal odor. Loose-fitting underwear, preferably cotton, will help. Cotton is a more absorbent fabric, so you won’t be sitting in damp underwear. Avoid tight-knit fabrics, which trap sweat; if you have been working out, a lot of workout clothes are made of this type of fabric, so change your clothes after a workout. Similarly, do not sit in wet bathing suits – even if you plan to swim later, either thoroughly dry or change in between. On days with heavy discharge, use panty liners or change your underwear frequently. Finally, don’t wear thongs when exercising, since the material can drag bacteria from the anus to the vaginal cavity. (2, 3)
Probiotics to Stop Vaginal Odors
Probiotics, like those found in yogurt, are very helpful in balancing the vaginal microbiome. According to a Washington-based OBGYN, yogurt “contains lactobacillus acidophilus which helps create the acidic environment your vagina requires and combats the growth of yeast. However, they warn, “do not put yogurt into your vagina. The sugar in yogurt can exacerbate the infection by encouraging the yeast to grow even more.” Additionally, if your gut microbiome is unbalanced, it will affect vaginal health. Taking baseline probiotics can help target unbalanced bacteria. Try a probiotic that is specifically designed for vaginal health, like this one. (2)
If You Have More Questions About How To Stop Vaginal Order . . .
I have a series of videos on maintaining vaginal health, which you can find here. You can also join my exclusive YouTube membership program here. Find all the products you need in the Natural Health Resources Amazon store. I also offer both virtual and in-person appointments, where you can get personalized help on how to naturally improve your health. Schedule an appointment here.