Every female has a natural vaginal scent that can change throughout her menstrual cycle. A strong odor however, can be a sign of an infection, particularly if she is sexually active.

Not all vaginal odors are caused by an infection, However. For example, poor hygiene or tight fitting clothing or fabric that doesn’t breathe can cause sweat and bacteria to get trapped which can cause and unpleasant odor.

Don’t be fooled by products such as douches or sprays that claim to “clean” your vagina. They can be harmful because they remove the fluids that naturally clean your vagina. These products (particularly the scented ones) can actually cause irritation.

Simply use soap and water to clean the outside of your vaginal area.

Rinse well and pat your skin with a towel until it is dry before you put your underwear on.

If your vaginal odor doesn’t go away, make an appointment with your health care provider and get checked out. There is treatment available.

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Showering every day with mild soap and warm water usually does the trick to feel clean and fresh in general.

If you have a vaginal discharge, itching, or vaginal odor, it may be caused by a change in the bacteria that normally live in the vagina (bacterial vaginosis) or by a yeast infection. Certain sexual transmitted infections (STI’s) such as trichomoniasis can cause a different odor.

A woman’s vagina is naturally filled with bacteria but when there is an overgrowth, the condition is called bacterial vaginosis and causes a “fishy” odor.

Causes of vaginal odor are a forgotten tampon left in the vagina or not showering or bathing regularly. However, vaginal discharge can mean that you have a sexually transmitted infection, especially if you are having unprotected intercourse. See your health care provider to find out what is causing your symptoms and if you need medication. If you do have an infection, there is medicine that can cure it and the odor too.

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It’s especially important to talk to your health care provider if:

You’ve had unprotected intercourse
You have a “different” vaginal discharge or itching
The vaginal odor (smell) doesn’t go away

Most ladies have a normal wetness or discharge that naturally cleans and moistens the vagina, but it should NOT have an odor. It’s NOT okay to douche or use strong soaps, deodorants, or perfume sprays near your vagina because it can upset the balance of good bacteria that are normally found in your vagina. These types of products can cause an allergic reaction, and/or irritation, and removes the igood bacteria that are normally present.