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What can I do about vaginal odour?

Vaginal Odour- Causes & Remedies

The term vaginal odour usually conjures up unpleasant thoughts and notions. You may notice that the smell changes during different times of the month. It may become more noticeable mid-cycle. This is normal. It is often a touchy subject that women are reluctant to talk about.

Here we will discuss what is normal when there may be a cause for concern and helpful tips to help with vaginal odour.

What are the different possible odours?

There might be a different smell from to time, but it does not need to be a cause for alarm.

Here are some examples which you might be probably already familiar with:

  1. Sour smell- No need to worry as this is the smell of, lactobacilli, the good bacteria in your vagina. Lactobacilli keeps the vagina on the acidic side to combat bacterial infections.
  2. Metallic smell- This smell you may notice during your period. What you are smelling is the iron that is present in the blood.
    If you don’t have irregular periods, this smell should not linger after your period finishes. If it does, you should see your doctor.

Are there any causes of my vaginal odour that are not infection related?

There are quite a few non-infectious causes of vaginal odor that may affect women.
Neglected foreign bodies (including tampons that are not changed regularly)
Rectovaginal fistula This condition occurs where there is an abnormal opening between the rectum and vagina that allows feces to leak into the vagina. Surgery may be required to address this
Vesicovaginal Fistula This is where there is an abnormal opening between the bladder and vagina that allows urine to leak into the vagina. Both rectovaginal fistula and vesicovaginal fistula require surgery to correct
Poor hygiene This one may simply mean you need you to be a bit more attentive. Efficient wiping and regular showers should eliminate any ammonia or musky like smell that could be attributed to urine or sweat from the apocrine and eccrine glands. Stress sweat can be hard to ignore, so if you are going through a stressful period, you want to walk with wet wipes during the day to freshen up.
Cancers involving the vagina or cervix The mutated cells of cancers can give off an odour. As you continue with treatment and the cancer is eliminated, the odour should dissipate as well.

Urine or fecal incontinence This is the involuntary loss of bladder and rectal control resulting in accidents that could contribute to general vaginal odor.

Do infectious diseases cause vaginal odour?

The answer to this is yes. they do. If you detect an unpleasant fish smell, it is time to raise an alarm. You may have an infection that is causing this particular odor. Something is definitely wrong and you should pay a visit to your doctor.

There are most likely three possibilities if your vaginal odor smells fishy. You may have bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis, or pelvic inflammatory disease.

Bacterial vaginosis

This condition can be categorized as a type of vaginal inflammation caused by the anaerobes bacteria multiplying rapidly within the vagina. your doctor will test for this infection though a swab test.


This is a parasitic sexually transmitted disease. In order to make a diagnosis, vaginal fluid is viewed under a microscope and usually, the parasite is visible. If the parasite is not detected in this way, a rapid test may be used.

Pelvic inflammatory disease

This is an infection that attacks a woman’s reproductive system. It may affect the uterus (womb), cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries and/or vagina. It is usually caused by an STD.

Once you are properly diagnosed, the right medication can be administered and you will be well on your way to getting better and getting rid of the smell.

What home remedies can I use to control vaginal odour?

Use a gentle cleanser

Wash your external genital area regularly with a gentle soap. The keyword is gentle. You can use one that has been specially formulated for sensitive skin. No harsh chemicals should be used in the area.

Avoid douching

We cannot stress this enough, this is a very unhealthy practice for females.

Use cotton underwear

Cotton undies are breathable and as such bacteria will not thrive in a well-ventilated environment. If there are less harmful bacteria, less likely for an odour to develop.

Avoid skin products that are designed for other areas of the body

Your genital area is sensitive and products formulated for other parts of the body like creams and lotions should not be used. The irritation that results could cause an infection that leads to the very same unpleasant odours that you are trying to avoid.

When should I see a doctor?

If the vaginal odour persists and more uncomfortable symptoms begin to arise, you should make a doctor’s appointment. Also, If your vaginal odour suddenly changes and as far as you can tell, it is not one of the healthy smells, you should visit your doctor.

As you can tell, vaginal odours are treatable whether they are infection based or not. Good hygiene plays a major part in controlling odours. You just need to be conscientious and responsible and you should be able to eliminate this issue altogether.


  1. Pandey, M., Choudhury, H., Abdul-Aziz, A., Bhattamisra, S. K., Gorain, B., Carine, T., Wee Toong, T., Yi, N. J., & Win Yi, L. (2020). Promising Drug Delivery Approaches to Treat Microbial Infections in the Vagina: A Recent Update. Polymers13(1), 26.
  2. Hall, G., Alenljung, S., & Forsgren-Brusk, U. (2017). Identification of Key Odorants in Used Disposable Absorbent Incontinence Products. Journal of wound, ostomy, and continence nursing : official publication of The Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society44(3), 269–276.

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