Is the musty smell from your vagina making you wonder what’s up down there?
It is absolutely normal to have some vaginal odor, but if you notice a strong unpleasant fishy odor in the vagina, it could indicate an underlying problem and is most likely an infection. (1)
Having a strong vaginal odor could have negative implications on a woman’s self-esteem, as well as on her sex life. If you're wondering how to get rid of vaginal odor, read on.
- Causes of Vaginal Odor
- Symptoms of Vaginal Odor
- Preventing Vaginal Odor
- Home Treatment for Vaginal Odor
- Method 1: Apply Apple Cider Vinegar
- Method 2: Apply Baking Soda Solution
- Method 3: Apply Yogurt
- Method 4: Apply Garlic Paste
- Method 5: Consume Chlorophyll
- Method 6: Apply Tea Tree Oil
- Method 7: Soak in White Vinegar-Sea Salt Bath
- Method 8: Wash with Hydrogen Peroxide
- Tips to keep in mind
Causes of Vaginal Odor
There can be changes in vaginal odor because of diet, health, and other factors. Changes in odor during menstruation, after having sex or due to excessive sweating, are normal. However, an abnormally strong odor can arise due to the following conditions:
- Bacterial Vaginosis – one of the primary reasons for vaginal odor in which an overgrowth of bad bacteria infects your vagina. (2)
- Trichomoniasis – a sexually transmitted infection caused by a parasite. (3)
- Hormonal changes – foul vaginal odor and watery discharge during menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause.
- Poor hygiene
- Forgotten tampon
Some of the lesser common causes include:
- Cervical or vaginal cancer
- Rectovaginal fistula – an opening between the vagina and rectum that results in feces penetrating the vagina and causing an infection.
Symptoms of Vaginal Odor
- Fishy or metallic smell (2)
- Itching in the vagina
- Burning sensation when urinating
- Foul smelling, gray, or green color discharge (2)
Preventing Vaginal Odor
- Avoid douching at all cost. Your vagina has a cleansing mechanism of its own. If needed, wash the vaginal area with warm water and mild soap.
- Avoid unprotected sex and urinate after having sex to flush out bacteria.
- Always wipe front to back after a bowel movement to avoid rectal bacteria.
- Change tampons, pads, and pantyliners after every 6 hours.
- Change underwear every day.
- Avoid using scented vaginal washes.
- Don’t use harsh laundry detergents to clean your undergarments. Try making DIY laundry detergent.
- Take probiotics to maintain a healthy gut and good bacteria in your vagina.
- Reduce the intake of sugar, alcohol, and caffeinated beverages.
- Eat fresh fruits and green veggies to improve your resistance against infections.
- Wear cotton underwear to avoid sweating and ensure proper air circulation in the vaginal area.
Home Treatment for Vaginal Odor
There are several natural ways to get rid of vaginal odor. However, if the condition persists after trying out these home remedies for a week or two, consult a gynecologist.
Method 1: Apply Apple Cider Vinegar
Vinegar has been used in various households as a traditional method of dealing with bacterial vaginosis. (4) It has potent antibacterial and antiviral properties that rid your body of toxins.
Besides killing the bacteria, apple cider vinegar also lowers the pH level of your vagina making it uninhabitable for bacteria.
You can either use it topically or consume it every day to treat vaginal odor. It is beneficial in treating yeast infection also.
Step 1. Dilute apple cider vinegar in warm water
- Pour some apple cider vinegar into a bowl.
- Pour an equal amount of warm water into it.
Step 2. Use the solution as a vaginal wash
- Wash the vaginal area with warm diluted apple cider vinegar 2 to 3 times a day.
- Alternatively, you can soak a tampon in diluted vinegar and insert it into the vagina for 1 hour twice a day.
- You can also add 2 cups of apple cider vinegar to warm bath water and soak in it for 30 minutes every day.
- In addition to the topical application, drinking a glass of water mixed with 1 or 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar daily will speed up the recovery process.
Apple cider vinegar remedy will treat vaginal odor in 3 to 4 days.
Method 2: Apply Baking Soda Solution
Your vagina is naturally slightly acidic, and when the pH level of the vagina goes haywire, it gets infected and produces vaginal odor.
Baking soda, being alkaline in nature, neutralizes the acids and restores the pH level of the vagina. You can use baking soda as a wash to keep your vagina clean and odor-free. (5)
Step 1. Add baking soda to water
- Add 2 teaspoons of baking soda to 1 cup of warm water.
- Stir well till the baking soda completely dissolves.
Step 2. Use the solution as a vaginal wash
- Soak a cotton ball in the baking soda solution and use it to clean your entire vaginal area.
- Rinse with regular water and pat dry with a clean towel.
- You can also add ½ cup of baking soda to your bath and soak in it for 30 minutes every day. Follow it with a shower and pat dry.
- If you can tolerate the taste, prepare a drink by mixing ½ tablespoon of baking soda in 1 glass of water and drink it once every day to get rid of the vaginal odor quickly.
Baking soda will give immediate relief from the vaginal odor. Continue the remedy to cure vaginal odor twice weekly every fortnight.
Method 3: Apply Yogurt
Yogurt is one of the easily available remedies for vaginal odor. It is naturally loaded with lactobacillus bacteria or good bacteria that keep your vagina healthy and infection-free. (6)
You should eat yogurt every day to steer clear of any vaginal infection, and if already suffering from the infection, yogurt can be applied to get relief from vaginal odor after just one use.
Remember to opt only for plain yogurt and also read the label before buying. Opt only for those that have live cultures.
Single-Step Treatment: Apply yogurt into your vagina
- Scoop up some yogurt with your finger and apply it into your vagina. Leave it in for 2 to 3 hours then rinse with lukewarm water.
- Repeat the process 3 to 4 times a day.
- You can also dip a tampon in plain yogurt for 10 minutes then insert it into your vagina. Leave it in overnight and rinse with water in the morning.
- Make sure to wear panty liners or maxi pads to avoid spoiling your clothes.
The odor should reduce after just 3 or 4 applications. However, continue the treatment for 1 week to cure the underlying infection completely.
Method 4: Apply Garlic Paste
Garlic is antimicrobial in nature. It contains a compound called allicin that helps fight bacteria. If the vaginal odor is being caused by bacterial vaginosis, you can use garlic as an effective treatment to get rid of the infection and the vaginal odor.
You can either eat it raw every day or apply garlic paste as a vaginal cream. (7)
Single-Step Treatment: Apply garlic paste on your vagina
- Take 3 to 4 peeled garlic cloves and grind them into a paste.
- Apply the paste all over your vagina and leave it on for 2 hours. It can sting a little, but it should subside after 10 minutes.
- Rinse with water and pat dry.
- You can also take a peeled garlic clove, tie a thin string around it and insert it in the vagina. Leave it in overnight.
- Retrieve the clove in the morning before taking a shower.
Do this once daily to get rid of vaginal odor in 1 week.
Method 5: Consume Chlorophyll
Chlorophyll acts as a natural deodorant, even for the vaginal odor. You can either try the liquid form or buy chlorophyll tablets that are easy to consume. This lacks scientific explanations but chlorophyll has proven helpful for many in treating vaginal odor.
You can purchase it from your local health food store or order online. If you suffer from foul breath, this remedy can help you kill two birds with one stone as chlorophyll is also an effective halitosis remedy.
There is just one harmless side effect—consuming chlorophyll will turn your tongue blackish and your urine and feces green. You have been warned!
- Add 1 tablespoon of liquid chlorophyll to an 8 oz. glass of water and consume it twice daily.
- If opting for chlorophyll tablets, take 1 tablet twice a day to get rid of vaginal odor.
Taking chlorophyll will reduce the vaginal odor after just one use. However, use it for 1 week to get rid of the odor completely.
Method 6: Apply Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is anti-microbial and acts as a disinfectant while treating vaginal odor. Many women trust this remedy for dealing with vaginal odor; however, it lacks specific scientific research. (8)
You can mix it up with some olive oil, another anti-bacterial, and apply it on your vagina.
Things you’ll need:
- Olive oil (anti-bacterial properties) – 1 tablespoon
- Tea tree essential oil (anti microbial properties) – 3 to 4 drops
Step 1. Add tea tree oil to olive oil
- Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a glass bowl.
- Squirt 3 to 4 drops of tea tree essential oil into the bowl.
- Mix it well.
Step 2. Apply the oil on your vaginal area
- Soak a cotton ball in the oil mix.
- Apply the oil to your vagina. Leave it for ½ hour and then rinse and pat dry.
- Alternatively, you can soak a tampon in the oil for a couple of minutes and insert the tampon into your vagina. Leave it for ½ hour then rinse with water.
- You can also add few drops of tea tree oil to a glass of water and use it as a vaginal wash after shower every day.
Use tea tree oil once daily to get rid of vaginal odor in 1 week.
Method 7: Soak in White Vinegar-Sea Salt Bath
White vinegar is a natural odor remover and can easily break down odor proteins present in the vagina. White vinegar also restores the pH balance of your vagina and treats vaginal odor. (4)
Single-Step Treatment: Soak your vagina in vinegar and sea salt bath
- Add 1 cup of white vinegar warm bath water. Also, add 1 cup of sea salt along with the vinegar.
- Soak your vagina in it once every day for 15 to 20 minutes then take a shower.
Soaking in white vinegar will reduce vaginal odor after just 1 or 2 days. Continue using the remedy to get rid of vaginal odor in 1 week.
Method 8: Wash with Hydrogen Peroxide
Cleansing your vagina with diluted 3% hydrogen peroxide is another effective remedy to cure vaginal odor. (4) Hydrogen peroxide disinfects your vaginal cavity and creates a hostile environment for bacteria to cling on and flourish.
Hydrogen peroxide has also been found helpful for treating genital warts.
Step 1. Add hydrogen peroxide to water
- Prepare a mix of hydrogen peroxide and water in 1:1 ratio.
Step 2. Clean your vagina with the solution
- Soak a cotton ball with the solution and swab it in and around your vagina.
- Wait for 10 minutes then rinse with water.
It will disinfect the vagina and reduce the musty smell in just 3 days. But, continue to use the solution twice daily to get rid of vaginal odor in 1 week.
Tips to keep in mind
- Drink plenty of water to encourage healthy sweating and fluid release to maintain the vaginal health.
- Carry unscented baby wipes while traveling to give your vagina a quick clean up when bathing is not possible.
- Keep your pubic hair well groomed to avoid the possibility of vaginal odor.
- Menard J-P. Antibacterial treatment of bacterial vaginosis: current and emerging therapies. International journal of women's health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3181210/. Published August 23, 2011.
- Kairys N. Bacterial Vaginosis. StatPearls [Internet]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459216/. Published January 23, 2019.
- Schumann JA. Trichomoniasis. StatPearls [Internet]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK534826/. Published January 13, 2019.
- Bilardi J, Walker S, McNair R, et al. Women's Management of Recurrent Bacterial Vaginosis and Experiences of Clinical Care: A Qualitative Study. PloS one. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4807032/. Published March 24, 2016.
- Suresh A, Rajesh A, Bhat RM, Rai Y. Cytolytic vaginosis: A review. Indian journal of sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3168042/. Published 2009.
- Darvishi M, Jahdi F, Hamzegardeshi Z, Goodarzi S, Vahedi M. The Comparison of vaginal cream of mixing yogurt, honey, and clotrimazole on symptoms of vaginal candidiasis. Global journal of health science. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4803919/. Published April 3, 2015.
- Watson CJ, Grando D, Garland SM, Pirotta. The effects of oral garlic on vaginal candida colony counts: a randomized placebo-controlled double‐blind trial. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology. https://obgyn.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1471-0528.12518. Published December 6, 2013.
- Bacterial vaginosis: Overview. InformedHealth.org [Internet]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK298829/. Published August 9, 2018.
Summary of How to Get Rid of Vaginal Odor
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