Vaginal odor is any odor that comes from the vagina. It’s normal for your vagina to have a slight odor. The intensity of this odor may vary during your menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or menopause. You may also experience stronger smells after sexual intercourse or exercise. However a very strong smell may signal a problem especially if it’s accompanied by symptoms like burning, itching, discharge, or irritation.

Some causes of vaginal odor may include:

  • Bacterial Vaginosis. This infection is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina. Symptoms may include a strong, fishy odor and a thin, gray discharge.
  • Poor Hygiene. Not bathing or showering regularly can lead to inflammation of the vaginal area, which can cause vaginal odor.
  • A Forgotten Tampon. A very strong vaginal odor can occur if you forget to take a tampon out.
  • Sweating. The skin around the vagina is prone to sweating, which can cause vaginal odor.
  • Trichomoniasis. This sexually-transmitted infection (STI) can cause vaginal odor. Other STIs, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia, typically aren’t accompanied by a strong smell.
  • Rectovaginal Fistula. This is an abnormal opening between the vagina and the rectum that allows feces to leak into the vagina, which can contribute to vaginal odor.
  • Cervical or vaginal cancer. Vaginal odor is sometimes a symptom of these cancers.
  • Diet. Foods like onion, coffee, asparagus, and certain spices are known to produce changes in your vaginal odor.
  • Medications. Some drugs, such as antibiotics and herbal medicines, can change the way your vagina smells.
  • Hormonal changes. Hormone treatments, such as birth control pills and vaginal creams, can alter your vaginal odor. Hormonal changes during pregnancy, breastfeeding, menopause may trigger vaginal odor.

Remedies for your vaginal odor will depend on the cause. You may need to see your doctor for certain treatments. Treatments may include:

  • Antibiotics- Cleocin (Clindamycin), Flagyl (Metronidazole), or Tindamax (Tinidazole) may be used to treat infection such as bacterial vaginosis or trichomoniasis.
  • Herbal supplement- Femanol, a herbal supplement are believed to reduce vaginal odor. The manufacturer claims that it helps your body build a strong immune system and restore good bacteria in the vagina.

In general, you can control mild vaginal odor by:

  • Wearing cotton underwear and loose clothing, to prevent moisture buildup and increase airflow to the area.
  • Changing clothes immediately after exercising.
  • Losing weight (if necessary).
  • Practicing good hygiene. Washing your vaginal area with warm water and non-irritating soap regularly.
  • Avoiding foods that increase the odor.
  • Wiping front to back after urinating or making a bowel movement to prevent spreading bacteria from your anus to your vagina.
  • Eating yogurt or other probiotic foods or taking a probiotic supplement. This will help in balancing the bacteria in your body.
  • Avoiding feminine sprays and creams, which can lead to irritation.

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