Vaginal Odour: What to Do About it?

Vaginal odour is something all women deal with, and while it’s completely natural and normal for your vagina to have some kind of scent, certain vaginal smells can signal something’s not right.

I love this phrase by Healthline;

A healthy vagina smells like a lot of different thingsflowers isn’t one of them.

It’s so true! We as women have an “expectation” to smell like a meadow full of roses, everywhere, but that’s neither natural nor healthy.

One of the most commonly occurring (and least talked about) concerns is vaginal odour.

For many, sweat is an uncomfortable part of life – especially when it occurs in the land down under.

Sweating is a natural process. It’s one of the ways the body cools itself. Without it, we could severely overheat. It’s perfectly normal to sweat whenever you’re hot. It doesn’t matter if you’re working out, sitting in a hot room, or just wearing too many layers. Stress will also lead to an increase in sweat, again, completely normal.

Certain areas of the body, like our armpits, are more prone to sweating than other areas due to the high concentration of sweat glands and hair follicles in that area. The groin is an area which behaves in much the same way as the armpits: it has a high concentration of sweat glands and hair in the one place, and has a plethora of bacteria.

Just like the armpits, the groin houses apocrine glands which secrete a fatty type of sweat that contains proteins. The proteins are broken down by bacteria, and that’s what produces odour.

Almost all other parts of the body have eccrine glands, which secrete water, so they’re less odorous. The highest concentration of these sweat glands are found on our palms, feet and head.

According to Healthline, some reasons as to why the scent of the vagina may change on a daily, or even hourly basis is;

These smell variations are likely a result of your menstrual cycle, your hygiene habits, or just you being you.

However, a more serious reason behind unpleasant vaginal odour is an infection called bacterial vaginosis (BV). Medical attention should be sought if this is the case. Some common signs and symptoms of BV include:

  • a fishy, unpleasant odour
  • Gray, yellow, or green discharge
  • vaginal itching
  • Burning during urination

Abnormal discharge may be yellow or green, chunky in consistency, or foul smelling. Yeast or a bacterial infection is usually the root cause of this. If you notice any discharge that looks unusual or smells really unpleasant, see your doctor.

In an article by Dr. Axe, it’s written that hormonal changes may influence vaginal odour also;

The University of California at Berkeley reports that vaginal secretions during menstruation and between ovulation and your next period may have a more unpleasant odor than during other parts of the cycle.

According to a Healthline article, some common vaginal odours include;

– Tangy or fermented (normal)

– Coppery like a penny (normal)

– Sweet like molasses (normal)

– Chemical like a newly cleaned bathroom (unhealthy)

– Skunky like BO or a smoked herbal, earthy scent (normal)

– Fishy (unhealthy)

– Rotten (unhealthy)

While it’s true that some people sweat more than others, no one should feel that they have to leave a room, or stand miles away from everyone else because their B.O has become too potent. So, here are some natural remedies and simple ways to help with vaginal odour, without the need of harmful antiperspirants, perfumes, and other odour-masking products.

Vaginal Odour Remedies

1. Practice good hygiene

Cleaning the vagina regularly will help keep odour at bay. Use a gentle washcloth to help wash away dead skin, sweat, and dirt. You can use a gentle soap on the outside, but when it comes to inside the labia, soap often burns and irritates as this area is much more sensitive. Simply letting the water rush over the area is often enough to keep the labia around the vagina clean. The vagina itself does not need to be cleaned, as it self-cleans on its own. Do not use perfumed soaps, body washes, or other scented cleansers as the scents and chemicals can upset the vagina’s natural pH. Bar soaps may be gentler than body wash, but often warm water is enough.

2. Oils

Certain oils contain specific properties that help combat body odour. Using a combination of these oils can help address odour, the best ones being:

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, a fatty acid which contains antibacterial properties that can help control levels of bacteria present on the body.

Ingredients:

To make:

  1. Rub a small amount of coconut oil directly onto sweat-prone areas.
  2. For foul body odour, mix the citric acid powder with water and use as a last rinse before you step out of the shower. Concentrate on the armpits and groin area (make sure just to use outside the vagina, not inside).
  3. Towel dry your body and apply coconut oil. This can be done daily.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil contains strong antifungal properties as is a great antiseptic. Simply add a few drops to some water and witch hazel on a cotton pad, then apply it to the vagina area daily. Make sure to dilute the oil with the water and witch hazel, as tea tree oil is quite potent and can cause some initial sensitivity to the groin area.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is naturally acidic, and contains antibacterial properties to prevent the accumulation of bacteria, which in turn can help with odour. There are a few ways to use ACV on for the vagina:

  1. Mix 1 tsp of ACV into 1 tbsp of coconut oil. You can apply this mixture to the vulva or insert it into the vagina, as well as take it internally.
  2. Rinsing the vulva in a solution of 2 tsp of apple cider vinegar and 1 cup of water twice per day may help alleviate symptoms of bacterial vaginosis.
  3. Pour 2 cups of ACV into a warm bath and soak for 40-60 minutes.

4. Fenugreek Tea

Fenugreek is a natural antioxidant, and can help flush out toxins from the body. It’s also an antibacterial and can help prevent bacterial infections from spreading.

Ingredients:

To make:

  1. Bring water to a boil then add in the fenugreek seeds. Let steep for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Drink this on an empty stomach every morning. You may continue to drink this tea each morning to help with detoxification in the body.

5. Baking Soda

Baking soda can help to balance the pH level in the body. To use, simply add 1/2 cup of baking soda to your bathwater and soak for about 15–20 minutes. Thoroughly dry your body before putting on clothes, making sure no moisture is left sitting in the groin area.

6. Garlic

Garlic is well-known for its antimicrobial and antifungal properties, which make it excellent for fighting yeast infections (like candida). But, what many people don’t know is it’s a natural antibiotic, and may help with vaginal infections.

Consume garlic in raw or cooked form, on a daily basis, by incorporating it into meals, or alternatively, it’s available in capsule form at local health food stores. You can also eat 1-2 raw garlic cloves on an empty stomach with a glass of warm water, but this does take some getting used to.

7. Water

The mucous membranes in the vagina need water to function properly. Water helps lubricate your vagina naturally, and also helps diminish vaginal smells. It’s recommended to drink between 2-3 litres of water each day.

8. Epsom Salts

Epsom salts naturally detoxify the body, and help the body relax by encouraging the production serotonin.

To use, simply fill your bathtub with hot water (not too hot that you burn yourself) and pour around 2-3 cups of Epsom salts in. Soak in the bath for 40-60 minutes. Do this treatment three times a week.

9. Fennel Seeds

Fennel seeds may help promote the secretion of digestive juices in the stomach, are enriched with vitamin C, and so have strong immune-boosting properties, and may also help to prevent body odour.

Bring water to a boil, then add 1 tsp of crushed fennel seeds to a cup of water and allow the mixture to steep. Strain the mixture, and drink each morning.

10. Neem Leaves or Neem Bark Extract

Neem leaves and bark contain antiseptic, antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties that help support balanced intestinal flora while also fighting infection from fungi, like candida. According to Dr. Axe;

In vitro studies showed efficacy against infections, such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia and herpes, in sexually active women who took neem oil extract in the tablet form.

11. Parsley

Parsley leaves have been found to contain anti-odour properties. The chlorophyll present in parsley (and coriander, too) helps with detoxification in the body, aiding in the removal of toxins, which in turn, can reduce odour.

Why it’s NOT Good to Use Vaginal Sprays

Even though deodorant is a great solution for underarm odour, it should never be used on the groin area as it can throw off its natural pH. Vaginal deodorants, douches and feminine sprays may cause redness, irritation and even yeast infections.

The good news is that your vagina naturally cleanses itself, so you don’t need to buy special products to clean it. Practicing good hygiene and changing your underwear regularly, is usually all it takes in most cases to stop any odour. Opt for natural fabrics like organic cotton, bamboo, hemp, and linen instead of synthetic materials like polyester, as they don’t breathe as well. Natural fabrics allow sweat to evaporate like it’s meant to.

As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor before trying or using any new products. It’s important to check with a doctor before taking this or any new product, especially if taking any other medicine or supplement or if pregnant or nursing. Be sure to check ingredients to make sure there is no risk of an allergic reaction.

What are some natural tips you use to help with B.O? Have you tried any of these remedies before? Share in the comments below.

Lots of love,

🖤 Vanessa

Sources:

O’Keefe Osborn, Corinne. (March 23, 2018). Sweaty Vagina: Why It Happens and What You Can Do. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/sweaty-vagina

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Body Odor. (May 11, 2017). Center for Young Women’s Health. Retrieved from https://youngwomenshealth.org/2013/06/12/body-odor/

Suszynski, Marie. Quick Fixes for Your Stinky Body Parts. Everyday Health. Retrieved from https://www.everydayhealth.com/womens-health-pictures/quick-fixes-for-your-stinky-body-parts.aspx

Vaginal Odor. Monistat. Retrieved from https://www.monistat.com/vaginal-health/vaginal-odor

Naser, Shaheen. (October 31, 2017). 25 Effective Home Remedies For Reducing Body Odor. Style Craze. Retrieved from https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/effective-home-remedies-for-reducing-body-odour/#gref

Oliver, Kyra. (March 21, 2016). How to Get Rid of Vaginal Odor. Dr. Axe. Retrieved from https://draxe.com/health/vaginal-odor/

Wojcik, Ginger. (Updated: August 13, 2020). Molasses to Pennies: All the Smells a Healthy Vagina Can Be. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/vagina-smells

Holland, Kimberly. (March 23, 2020). 7 Tips When Dealing with Vaginal Odor. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/how-to-get-rid-of-vaginal-odor

O’Keefe Osborn, Corinne. (July 31, 2019). Apple Cider Vinegar for Candida. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/apple-cider-vinegar-candida

Lindberg, Sara. (February 16, 2018). What your vaginal odour could mean. Patient. Retrieved from https://patient.info/news-and-features/vaginal-odours-to-be-aware-of

Ellis, Mary Ellen. (Updated: November 19, 2019). Everything You Need to Know About Vaginal Discharge. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/vaginal-discharge

Winter Immunity: Here’s How Fennel Could Help Manage Cold and Cough. (Updated: December 11, 2018). NDTV. Retrieved from https://www.ndtv.com/food/winter-immunity-heres-how-fennel-could-help-manage-cold-and-cough-1961165

Villines, Zawn. (January 27, 2020). Home remedies for bacterial vaginosis. Medical News Today. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317562

Villines, Zawn. (January 9, 2020). 6 ways to get rid of vaginal odor. Medical News Today. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317560

Vaginal Odor. (12/09/2018). Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/17905-vaginal-odor