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5 intimate hygiene mistakes that can increase vaginal odour

Are you doing everything to keep your vagina clean but it still smells bad down there? You are probably making intimate health mistakes leading to vaginal odour.

Vaginal odour causes
Your smelly vagina may be because of these intimate hygiene mistakes. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 16 Sep 2023, 18:30 pm IST
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It is normal for your vagina to have a mild odour, but some women may experience strong and unpleasant smell down there. It may smell of onion and garlic, or even fish! An infection or eating a lot of onion or garlic can leave your vagina with a strong odour. But sometimes, the vaginal odour has also got to do with intimate hygiene. Read on to find out the intimate hygiene mistakes that can lead to unpleasant vaginal odour.

Intimate hygiene mistakes that cause vaginal odour

Some of the common intimate hygiene mistakes many women tend to make are:

1. Over-washing

It is good to keep your vagina clean, but excessive washing disrupts the natural pH balance. This can lead to odour-causing bacteria growth, says Dr Deepa Dewan, Senior Director- Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Golf Course Road, Gurugram. pH is basically used as a value to determine how alkaline or acidic a substance is, with normal pH range of the vagina being between 3.8 and 5. The pH levels of your vagina is responsible for keeping harmful bacteria and fungi away. But if the pH balance gets disrupted, you may have vaginal problems.

Vaginal odour
Are you making intimate hygiene mistakes? Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

2. Using harsh soaps or intimate washes

Harsh soaps and intimate washes loaded with chemicals and fragrances can irritate and disturb the delicate vaginal environment. So instead of giving you sweet-smelling vagina, you will end up with a foul odour.

3. Douching

Vaginal douching might seem like an effective way to maintain vaginal health. But it can flush out both harmful and beneficial bacteria, leading to imbalances and vaginal odour, the expert tells Health Shots. It might also lead to a burning sensation.

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4. Wearing non-breathable fabrics

You might want to flaunt your hourglass figure by wearing tight and non-breathable clothes. Turns out, these kind of clothes can trap moisture and encourage bacterial growth even down there.

5. Ignoring menstrual hygiene

Just because you are down, you should not compromise on hygiene. Changing sanitary pads after every four to five hours is important. If you don’t change them regularly, it can create an environment for bacteria to thrive. The same goes for tampons, which also need to be changed regularly.

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While poor hygiene can contribute to vaginal odour, there are other factors that can also play a role.

One of the main causes is infection, says Dr Dewan. Bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections are common reasons of vaginal odour. Bacterial vaginosis is caused by an imbalance of bacteria in the vagina, while yeast infections are due to an overgrowth of yeast.

Excess sweat and moisture in the genital area can get mixed up with the fluids in and around your vagina, affecting the natural smell of your private part.

Vaginal health
Foods can also cause vaginal odour. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Certain foods such as strong-smelling spices can affect body odour, including vaginal odour.

Hormonal fluctuations during menstruation, pregnancy or menopause can impact the vaginal pH, says the expert.

Also, any kind of sexual activity can sometimes cause a temporary change in vaginal odour due to pH changes and introduction of a new bacteria.

Symptoms of poor vaginal odour

A mild, musky scent is generally considered normal for the vaginal area. However, if you notice some symptoms, you should consult a doctor. Here are some of the signs:

• Persistent vaginal odour that doesn’t improve despite practicing good hygiene
• Unusual discharge with changes in colour, consistency or volume
• Discomfort or pain like itching, burning, pain in the vaginal area
• Foul smell after sex

Go for mild and fragrance-free soaps only for cleaning genital areas. Choose cotton underwear and avoid silk, satin, or polyester so that there is enough air flow and drink water to maintain overall health, including vaginal health.

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About the Author
Natalia Ningthoujam Natalia Ningthoujam

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle- as a journalist in her nearly 13-year long career. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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