One of the worst feelings a woman can have is to suddenly realize that she can smell herself…and not in a good way. Vaginal odors are never convenient, and they can ruin your day (and self-confidence) in seconds.
But the biggest problem is you rarely know when or what these odors will stem from on a given day, so the best thing you can do is be prepared. Whether you’re dealing with blood, sweat, or discharge, here are some tips for keeping your vagina as fresh as possible every day of the month.
Vaginal Odors From Blood
When your monthly unwelcome visitor is in residence, odors may seem inevitable, especially if you have a heavy flow. But you can take several necessary steps to keep your personal bubble smelling (and feeling) fresh.
- Change your pads and tampons frequently. Besides exposing your body to harmful bacteria, using pads and tampons for too long puts you at risk for that hovering “period smell,” and no one wants that in their proximity. Be sure to change your feminine hygiene products every four hours to avoid infections and invasive smells.
- Keep it clean. Daily showers are a must for your lady parts, regardless of (but especially on!) your period. However, if you struggle with vaginal odor during your monthly cycle, consider using flushable cleansing wipes throughout the day. They’ll help keep your vulva clean and odor-free.
- Stay away from douching! Even if you “feel better” after a vaginal douche, you’re likely doing more harm than good to your sensitive vag. In the long run, you may even end up causing more odors due to infections and pH imbalances. You can always use a pH balanced feminine wash if you do want a special cleaning product for down there.
Vaginal Odors From Sweat
As much as women like to pretend that they sparkle instead of sweat…it happens. And sometimes it occurs down under. Unfortunately, our pubic regions respond very similarly to our armpits and can get warm, moist, and rather stinky.
- Try 100% cotton or moisture-wicking underwear. If you’re soaking through your panties, try replacing them with a more breathable solution. Cotton is very breathable, although it does tend to soak up the moisture before letting it evaporate, which may leave them a little uncomfortable for a while. Moisture-wicking underwear works just as well for hot dates as it does for hot workouts and keeps your nether regions dry. Some brands even have odor-absorbing properties that will keep any residual smell away!
- Don’t use panty liners unless you’re spotting. While a liner may seem like the easy solution to a moisture problem, it may actually make your sweating worse. Liners aren’t breathable, so they just trap that hot, moist air and can make you sweat even more.
- Trim the bush. Pubic hair serves as a protective barrier to your sensitive vulvar skin. However, much like armpit hair, your pubes don’t do you any favors when it comes to keeping it fresh. If you sweat down there, any excess hair can trap oil, sweat, and bacteria, which produce a less-than-pleasant smell. This doesn’t mean you need to eradicate your pubic hair, but a decent trim might solve most of your odor problems.
While discharge rarely seems like your friend, we do have to give it credit for its part in keeping your vagina clean. However, discharge is frequently the culprit of nasty vaginal odors, and it’s a sign that something isn’t quite right.
- Try a pH balancing product. Your vagina has a very delicate pH balance—and when that gets upset, your girl will let you know with smelly discharge, itching, or worse. If you struggle with keeping your pH regulated, consider using a pH balancing supplement to help out. You can get capsules that regulate your pH or use a gentle wash to restore those balances on a day-to-day basis.
- Take a prescription. Some of us are just prone to vaginal issues, and our poor pussies struggle to keep things right on their own. There’s no shame in that. If you continuously deal with weird discharge and the accompanying odors, talk to your doctor and see about getting on a particular prescription to give your girl a boost.
- Don’t fix what’s not broken. It may be tempting to give your vagina some extra “help” by cleaning it with soap or even spraying deodorizing sprays inside your vaginal tube, but DON’T! Your vagina is a delicate, self-cleaning machine, and adding in unnecessary elements is a recipe for disaster. Never insert any cleansers (even soap) into your vagina. You’ll upset that pH balance like crazy and put yourself at risk for more problems than just smelly discharge.
The best way to keep your vagina fresh on a day-to-day basis is simply to follow a proper hygienic routine. Once you’re in a good place with her pH balances, keep up with the things you need to do and don’t add anything you don’t need. You’ll quickly find that your vagina will take care of you if you just give it a little room to breathe.
Sarah Nelson is a nurse with 15 years of experience working with a variety of patients. She has a Masters of Science in Nursing and has spent a large portion of her career working exclusively with women in an OB/GYN setting.
Nursing is a passion for Sarah but she also enjoys writing and sharing her expertise online with people who need helpful information. Treating patients well and helping them learn more about their own bodies is a key essential to a healthy lifestyle that Sarah truly believes in.