The vagina has a natural odour. If you notice an unusual smell, you may be able to get rid of it by changing your hygiene practices, personal care products, or diet. What is vaginal odour? Vaginal odor is any smell that comes from your vagina. It could be the odor produced by healthy vaginal secretion or an unpleasant, abnormal smell caused by an infection. Your vaginal odor may change throughout your menstrual cycle or other times, like pregnancy or menopause. Is vaginal odor natural? The vagina is NOT supposed to smell like nothing! Just like other body parts — including the scalp, belly button, armpits — the vagina has some scent. And that scent? Isn’t that of dandelions, daffodils, or daisies! “A vagina isn’t supposed to smell like flowers, no matter what our culture likes to tell us,” says sex educator Searah Deysach, owner of Early to Bed, a pleasure-product company in Chicago that ships worldwide. The scent of your vagina will vary based on things like hydration levels, recent food intake, medications, overall health status, and where you are in your menstrual cycle. Common vaginal scents include coppery, musky, meaty, or fleshy, explains Felice Gersh, MD, A Gynecologist’s Lifeline To Naturally Restore Your Rhythms, Hormones.” (Though sex may alter the scent for a few hours, especially if there was an exchange of bodily fluids). Causes of vaginal odour; The natural secretions from your vaginal tissue often produce an odor. This is totally normal and to be expected. Still, sometimes that odor can seem stronger than usual. Here are some potential causes of stronger or abnormal vaginal odor: Sweating, poor hygiene bacterial vaginosis (BV) trichomoniasis, forgetting to take a tampon out, douching, diet, hormone changes (menstrual cycle, pregnancy, menopause). In rare cases, more serious medical problems can cause vaginal odor, such as: rectovaginal fistula, cervical cancer, vaginal cancer etc. Home remedies for vaginal odour; If your vagina smells a little off, and that scent is NOT accompanied by other symptoms, you may be able to relieve your symptoms on your own. 1. Shower or bathe regularly “The area can accumulate sweat, dead skin, and dirt,” says Gersh. And just as those things can affect the smell of your pits, they can affect the smell of your vagina. Maintaining a regular hygiene practice can help avoid the accumulation of the scent that you don’t like. But if the scent has already taken root and you don’t have time to shower, simply take a warm washcloth and wash your pubic mound and outer lips. “Even just using your finger to swish the warm water around the vulva is adequate,” she says. It’s also advisable for ladies to do a down wash after every bout of sex. 2. Stop washing inside your vagina; To be clear: while you can (and should!) wash the outside of your vagina (aka the vulva), you should not start going in your hole with water, washcloth, or soap. “It’s true that a vagina is a self-cleaning machine,” says Gersh. “The natural makeup of bacteria inside the vaginal canal is designed to keep the canal healthy and clean — and that bacteria doesn’t need any help from you to operate optimally.” Washing inside the vaginal canal isn’t just unnecessary, it’s downright dangerous. Washing inside the vaginal canal — especially with fragrant soaps — can upset your vagina’s natural bacterial makeup and pH. And when your vagina’s natural bacterial makeup gets disrupted? You put yourself at risk of developing infections like bacterial vaginosis (BV) which (negatively) impact your vaginal odor. 3. Check for recent product swaps: Did you recently change your detergent? Start using a different body wash? Switch up your toilet paper brand? All of these things can impact your vagina, according to Gersh. “Take some time to think through what things have changed in your routine,” she says. “What soaps you’ve been using, the type of underwear you’ve been wearing, and how tight your clothes are could all be the culprit.” Switching up your sexual lubricants, sex toy cleaner, and type of condom (or other barrier methods) could also be the culprit. 4. Stay hydrated; Drinking plenty of water is good for more than just your skin. It can help your vagina’s overall health, too, by encouraging healthy sweating and fluid release, says Deysach. 5. Eat a balanced diet; As a general rule, a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, will elicit a softer scent compared to greasy, fast foods. As Gersh puts it, “A balanced diet makes for a healthy body, and that includes your vagina.” Just be warned: “Some very strong-smelling foods like asparagus, garlic, and onions can result in a stronger smelling cooch,” says Deysach. So, if you’ve been eating a whole lot of asparagus, garlic, and onions recently, simply cutting out those foods could return your vagina to its natural scent. Prescription treatments for vaginal odor? “There are no prescription medications to treat just vaginal odor,” says Gersh. However, an unusual vaginal odor is a by-product of vaginal bacterial disruption, infection, or hormonal disruption, she says, all of which can be treated with medication. Normal vaginal smells include coppery, musky, meaty, or fleshy scents. The bottom line is; A change in vaginal odor can be a sign of a larger condition, one that you may be unable to treat on your own. It’s best to see a doctor or other healthcare professional early to help prevent your symptoms from getting worse. By Gabrielle Kassel and Kil