A vaginal odour is any odour that comes from the vagina. It is completely normal for your vagina to have a slight odour and a mild musky smell. Each female’s vagina smells differently.
A healthy vagina is described to smell musky or fleshy. Menstrual flow makes the odour slightly “metallic”.
The intensity of the odour varies during menopause, menstrual cycle or pregnancy in a Nigerian woman. A very strong odour signifies an infection.
Vaginal odour becomes stronger after sexual intercourse or exercise.
An abnormal and strong odour is usually accompanied by a burning sensation, itching, unusual discharge or irritation. Vaginal odour is considered normal if it is not accompanied by any symptom.
Nutrition, health status and other factors can affect the natural smell of a vagina.
Is Vaginal odour natural?
It is absolutely normal for your vaginal to produce an odour.
Even when you’re taking proper care of your body, including your vagina, you may still experience an unfamiliar odour. What is not normal is when the odour is persistent and very strong and is accompanied by strange symptoms.
You should pay attention to your body and your vagina. If you notice a change in your vaginal odour or discharge, that indicates a potential problem, meaning you’ll have to go see a doctor for treatment and clarification (if you’re not sure of what is going on with your vagina).
Possible Causes of Vaginal odour Among Nigerian Ladies
So many factors contribute to vaginal odour among Nigerian women. Some of them include:
Overgrowth of bacteria and yeast in the vagina (bacterial and yeast infection)
A fishy vaginal odour indicates an infection called Bacterial vaginosis. This is a very common vaginal infection. It occurs when certain factors affect the complex chemistry of the vagina, making harmful bacteria to grow out of control, thereby producing a fishy odour. Symptom may also include thin and grey discharge.
An overgrowth of yeast in the vagina can produce a sweet or sour smell.
Yeast infection is normally accompanied by intense burning sensation, itching or feeling of dryness. These symptoms tend to get worse as time passes. Some females notice a discharge resembling a cheese cottage.
Not bathing or showering regularly can lead to inflammation of the vaginal area which can cause the vagina to produce an odour.
Overusing a menstrual pad
Overusing a menstrual pad can cause the vagina to produce a very strong odour. It can also put you at risk of developing an infection.
Sexually transmitted infections
Some sexually transmitted infections like Trichomoniasis, Gonorrhea and Chlamydia can cause a very strong vaginal odour.
This is an abnormal opening between the vagina and the rectum that allows faeces to leak into the vagina, this can contribute to vaginal odour.
Cervical or Vaginal cancer
These cancers can produce vaginal odours as part of their symptoms.
Re-usage and improper washing of underwear can make the vagina to produce a strong odour.
Tight/unbreathable clothes and underwear
Wearing tight leggings, pants and underwear can make the vagina produce and retain moisture which in turns makes the vaginal smell bad.
The skin around the vagina is prone to sweating.
Engaging in exercise makes the area sweat, thereby producing a vaginal odour.
Studies show that what you eat can contribute to vaginal odour. Food like onions, coffee and certain spices are known to produce changes.
Hormonal changes that occur during menopause can alter the natural odour of the vagina and leave the vagina feeling dry.
How to control vaginal odour as a Nigerian woman
The following ways can help control vaginal odour as a Nigerian woman:
- Avoid douches. This can affect the natural pH and bacteria balance in the vagina. Douching gets rid of the good bacteria in your vagina. The vagina itself is self-cleaning and does not need any extra help.
- Avoid using scented or perfumed products on the vagina.
- Practice safe sex and stick to one partner. Always use a condom.
- Urinate immediately after sex.
- Use gentle, fragrance-free soaps on your vulva.
- Change underwear daily.
- Avoid tight pants, leggings or underwear. Tight clothing can trap fluids like sweat, discharge, semen and dead cells. Getting plenty of oxygen is vital to vaginal health.
- Wash your underwear with unscented detergent and rinse thoroughly.
- Take a shower after sweating.
- Avoid scented wipes, toilet papers and menstrual pad.
- Change your menstrual pad frequently. Don’t use for more than 8 hours.
- Avoid scented lubricants during sex.
- Take a shower immediately after sexual intercourse.
- Eat healthily and stay hydrated. Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. A balanced diet gives a healthy body, including your vagina. Drinking plenty of water encourages healthy sweating and fluid release.
- Change clothes after exercise or swimming.
- Use plain, warm water to wash your vulva.
- Avoid foods that increase vaginal odour.
- Wipe from front to back after using the toilet.
- Avoid feminine sprays and creams.
- Eat yoghurt or other probiotic foods. Probiotics help maintain the pH balance of your vagina.
- Thoroughly wipe your anus after bowel movements.
- Avoid sugary foods.
- Avoid sleeping in your underwear.
- Shower frequently during your period.
- Avoid wearing damp underwear.
- Practice good vaginal hygiene habits.
- Avoid frequent hot shower. Frequent hot bath and showers can tamper with your natural pH.
- Bathe the area between your legs. Use a gentle washcloth to help wash away dirt, sweat and dead skin.
- Try a vinegar soak bath. Pour a cup or two of apple cider vinegar (ACV) into a warm bath and soak for 20 minutes. Vinegar may naturally reduce bacteria.
- Consider a pH product. Over-the-counter (OTC) products may help restore the natural pH balance of your vagina.
You should see a doctor if the vaginal odour is:
- Accompanied by other symptoms like an intense burning sensation, itching, unusual discharge or irritation.
- Persistent or long-lasting
Conclusion: Home remedies usually help reduce vaginal odour in about a week. If the odour persists or becomes stronger, you should go see a doctor.
A strong vaginal odour signifies a large problem that you can not solve on your own. It’s better to see a doctor begin early treatment and prevent the problem from getting worse.