Despite male chauvinistic comments and tacky jokes about women’s genital odor, vaginal odor is not unpleasant under normal circumstances. However, the secrecy that often surrounds issues related to female sexuality does nothing but increase confusion about what is normal and what is not. It is advisable to observe the vaginal discharge because it presents changes throughout the different stages of our lives and to ask our gynecologist any questions we have. Only then can we know if we are facing a severe health problem.
The vagina is one of the organs that make up the female genital apparatus. Its primary mission is to house the man’s penis during intercourse and receive the semen from ejaculation.
This organ consists of a duct that is in communication with the uterus at its innermost end and, on the other, reaches the vulva. It constitutes, then, the communication of the female genital apparatus with the outside. Its length varies between eight and twelve centimeters, and it maintains an oblique direction, from top to bottom and from back to front.
The internal wall of the vagina is made up of a mucous layer that has small glands in charge of preparing the secretion that lubricates the organ during intercourse. At its lower end, said mucosa presents a membranous fold, called the hymen, which partially prevents the vaginal canal in virgin women. Menstrual bleeding from the uterus periodically flows through the vagina.
At the time of delivery, she undergoes a significant dilation that is part of the so-called soft birth canal, through which the fetus is expelled abroad.
Inside the vagina, there is a bacterial flora of its own formed by the so-called Doderlein bacilli. These germs, which are not pathogenic under normal conditions, by maintaining an acidic environment prevent the proliferation of other microorganisms that can cause disease.
Causes of bad vaginal odor
They say that a healthy vagina smells similar to the lactic acid in yogurt due to the lactobacilli that protect the vaginal flora from infection. But the truth is that each woman, of each different age, smells different; it is more, throughout the menstrual cycle, our vaginal odor changes and sometimes is perceived with more intensity. And that the smell is more intense does not mean that it is unpleasant.
Because when an unpleasant odor appears in the intimate area, it is convenient to go to the gynecologist since it is synonymous with something that does not work well. Vaginal odor is produced in most cases by infection or by improper intimate hygiene, either due to excess or defective cleaning. But the bad smell can also be caused by wearing too tight clothes, or wet clothes, especially the swimsuit on the beach, or synthetic underwear.
And two other causes produce the bad smell in the vagina that are barely mentioned, but that have their importance. One is trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted disease that, in addition to irritation, causes a very intense and unpleasant vaginal odor. The other cause is the semen itself, which can sometimes alter the intimate pH, damaging the vaginal flora.
Also, other diseases can cause this bad smell in the intimate area. This is the case of bacterial vaginosis, an inflammatory process of the vaginal mucosa that alters the flora and is accompanied by an increase in discharge, leucorrhea, itching or itching, and a penetrating vaginal odor. One of the most common symptoms to detect this pathology is through the pain and irritation that is generated during sexual intercourse.
Bad vaginal odor can also be a warning sign that we are starting to develop cervical cancer. If this unpleasant smell is accompanied by other symptoms such as bleeding and abnormal vaginal discharge, you should go to the gynecologist immediately before it is too late.
On the other hand, tampons and compresses can also cause a foul odor on the vulva. Although both products are designed with the idea of making life easier for women during menstruation, we must not forget that we must change them every four or six hours at most if we want to avoid not only vaginal odor but also the proliferation of bacteria.
According to a study from the University of Cuenca, a poor diet is another cause of vaginal odor because some foods treated with hormones or excessively sugary products can cause an alteration of the vaginal pH, causing secretions that make the female sex come off a strong and somewhat repulsive odor.
[Also Read: Vaginal yeast infection: causes and solutions]
How to avoid bad vaginal odor
The measures to prevent the appearance of bad vaginal odor are the basic ones that any woman should take. It is always advisable to wear cotton underwear and avoid wearing tight pants or stockings if possible because they do not allow the intimate area to breathe. For the same reason, it is preferable to sleep in a nightgown and without underwear than with pajamas.
Intimate hygiene is a fundamental factor in controlling vaginal odor. Poor hygiene can be just as damaging as too much hygiene, and that is something that not all women take into account. Some go a long way in cleaning the vaginal area, thus leaving it unprotected against bacteria. It is always better to wash the intimate area only with water, and without soap. However, in the case that soap is going to be used, it should be a mild or specific one for that delicate area (intimate gels with neutral pH are recommended). And we will not tire of noticing that the vagina has its hygiene system, so vaginal douches are entirely unnecessary.
In any case, these are only necessary preventive measures. Still, if an unpleasant odor appears in the intimate area, the main recommendation is to immediately go to the gynecologist to determine the cause of the bad smell and indicate the appropriate treatment.
Home remedies to end vaginal odor
- Add 3 teaspoons of fenugreek seeds to 2 liters of boiling water for approximately 30 minutes. Let the water cool down. Wash the vagina with this water. Do this 3-4 times a day.
- Consume yogurt with prebiotics daily.
- Insert a peeled garlic clove into the vagina and leave it on for a couple of hours. Wash or bathe after removing the garlic clove. Perform this remedy once or twice a week to get rid of the vaginal odor.
- Crush a couple of garlic cloves to make a paste. Apply this to your vagina and leave it on for 10 minutes. After that time, wash with warm water. It may seem strange to use strong-smelling food to get rid of vaginal odor, but garlic is known for its antimicrobial and antifungal properties.
- Gently apply yogurt to the entrance to the vagina and leave it there for a while. Then wash with warm water. Repeat this remedy three to four times a day. You can also use a tampon soaked in yogurt and insert it into the vagina and then remove and wash with warm water.
- Consume 1-2 cloves of raw garlic with a glass of warm water in the morning on an empty stomach.
- Consume one clove of raw garlic daily in salads.
- Soak a tampon in diluted apple cider vinegar solution and insert into the area and keep it there for 30 minutes.
- Fill the tub with warm water. Add 3 cups of apple cider vinegar to this water. Sit in this water for half an hour. Perform this remedy 4 times a week.
- Pour ½ cup of baking soda into the water in the tub.
Sit in this water for about 20 minutes. This remedy eliminates vaginal odor caused by yeast infections.
- Dilute a little apple cider vinegar with water and rinse your vagina with this diluted solution.
- Pour 5 drops of tea tree oil into the water in the bathtub. Sit in this water for 30 minutes. Wash under running water afterward and dry. Do not use soap to wash the vagina after this remedy. Repeat 3 times a day.
- Drink blueberry juice without sugar and undiluted daily.
- Add 10 guava leaves to 1 liter of water. Boil the water until its quantity is reduced by half. Let it cool down. Strain and use the water to wash the vaginal area. Repeat this remedy twice a day.
- Macerate 2 teaspoons of fenugreek seeds in a glass of water overnight. In the morning, strain the water and drink on an empty stomach. Do this remedy every day for about 2 weeks. Fenugreek can cause stomach upset for some people, if this is the case, discontinue this remedy.
- Using neem, whose scientific name Azadirachta indicates, also known as Nim, Tree of Life, or Sacred Tree, which has a shell that has incredible antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties, which help maintain a balanced intestinal flora while also fighting fungal infections, such as candida.
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