vaginal odor

Vaginal Odor: 6 Natural Home Remedies to Treat It

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Medically Reviewed By Dr. Amanda Olson, DPT, PRPC

Vaginal odor can be unpleasant to talk about, and even more unpleasant to experience. Here is some information on what causes it, and some natural ways to treat it.

What Causes Vaginal Odor?

Most of the time, vaginal odor does not indicate a serious condition that needs to be treated. There are several common variables that cause fluctuations in vaginal odor, including your menstrual cycle, sweat, sex, menopause, and hormone changes. 

The vagina is naturally mildly acidic, which helps keep bacteria and yeast growth in check. Changes in vaginal pH can upset this balance and lead to odor-causing infection.

An unpleasant, fishy odor that is accompanied by burning and itching could be caused by bacterial vaginosis (BV), which is a common bacterial infection of the vagina. Trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted disease caused by a parasite, can also cause a foul-smelling vaginal fluid and burning or itching.

Are There Natural Remedies?

There are some simple steps you can take to reduce vaginal odor. If your odor is accompanied by symptoms of BV or trichomoniasis, you will need to see your doctor for an appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan.

The following treatment tips can help reduce common causes of vaginal odor. They are also beneficial in preventing and treating BV. 

6 Ways to Get Rid of Odor at Home

1. Probiotics

All of our bodies contain bacteria. While some cause disease or illness, others are necessary to maintain good health and keep the body in a healthy balance. When this balance is thrown off by stress, illness, or a course of antibiotics, health problems can follow and probiotics may be helpful.

Probiotics are the beneficial kind of bacteria, similar to what is found in the body. They can be found in a variety of fermented foods, such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, kimchi, and tempeh.

They are also available as a supplement, most often in an oral form. These supplements are safe and have many benefits for digestive and vaginal health. Most research on the use of probiotics for vaginal odor studies their effect on odor that is specifically due to BV.

Preliminary research suggests that probiotics are helpful in preventing BV and in restoring vaginal pH and healthy vaginal flora. However, at this point data is limited and more research on the topic is needed.

2. Boric Acid

Boric acid is a natural chemical that can be used as an antifungal or antimicrobial agent to treat certain conditions. Vaginal boric acid suppositories such as Intimate Rose Boric Balance, are often used as part of a treatment regimen for BV and recurrent vaginal yeast infections.

They can also help restore a healthy vaginal pH, eliminate vaginal odor, and inhibit the development of infection.

3. Use tampons or a menstrual cup

Menstrual pads often hold more of an odor than tampons or a menstrual cup, and can also make perineal hygiene more of a challenge during menstruation. Just make sure to change them frequently.

4. Hygiene

Keeping your vaginal area clean is an essential part of odor control. It is important not to take hygiene too far though, since using scented soaps, menstrual pads, and tampons can interfere with the healthy chemical balance in your vagina. 

Douching (rinsing your vagina with water or other fluids) or using heavily scented soap should be avoided, as these practices can alter the pH of the vagina. Washing with warm water is the best way to wash your vagina and vulva.

5. Use a condom during sex

Semen can irritate the vagina and change vaginal pH, which can make it more susceptible to BV. Using a condom can help maintain an optimal pH and reduce vaginal odors. Urinate after sex to flush out the area, instead of douching.

6. Wear breathable cotton underwear

It is important to wear underwear made from natural material such as cotton, which is absorbent and breathable. Avoid tight fitting garments like tights or pantyhose if vaginal odor is a problem for you. Change underwear after exercising to keep things dry. 

It is also a good idea to go without underwear at night. 

    If vaginal odor is a persistent problem, try making some of these simple changes, and ask your doctor about whether a probiotic supplement or boric acid is the right choice for you.

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    By Dr. Amanda Olson,DPT, PRPC