Loss of odor: what to do? Causes and treatments

White discharge is a completely natural phenomenon. It is also a very good indicator of the health of your intimate area. This leucorrhoea is most often whitish or translucent in color. Likewise, they do not usually have any particular bad odor, except for a slightly acidic odor that is hardly noticeable. So, a different, unpleasant or malodorous sensation in your vaginal secretions should alert you.


Is it normal to have a smelly discharge?

While it is normal for every woman to have her own body odor, because our bodies are not sanitized, it is abnormal for some women to experience smelly discharge.

What is the usual smell of vaginal discharge?

Some may detect in their vaginal discharge a musky, bittersweet, cakey, acidic smell... What does leucorrhoea normally smell like?

The natural smell of the body

Our body has its own smell, its own olfactory imprint! Leucorrhoea, like our other secretions, is no exception to the rule and can vary slightly depending on the woman. Leucorrhoea can also vary according to the stage of the menstrual cycle, during ovulation with more liquid productions or with a metallic sensation that can occur a few days before menstruation, or with one's sporting activity, mixing with the odours of perspiration. Although you may be embarrassed by your natural production, find it acceptable or not, it is important to point out that it is completely normal!
On the other hand, an unusual, overly strong, fishy, rotten, or bread (yeast) odor may be a sign that an infection has overtaken your usual body signature.

What causes odor loss?

Unpleasant discharge can have a variety of causes.

A problem of intimate hygiene

Hygiene is often the first to be incriminated in the causes of an odorous discharge. Indeed, taboos are hard to break in our modern society and strong body odors are often stigmatized: you have to smell good in all circumstances! However, this goes against the body's mechanisms: the body needs a balanced vaginal flora to function!

As a reminder, the vagina is self-cleaning, so there is no need to wash it inside. On the contrary, repeated toilets and other vaginal showers tend to destroy the flora of the vagina. We advise you to use a soap with a neutral PH and without perfume, or to prefer washing with clear water. We often tend to believe that by washing our intimate area abundantly, we will avoid infections. However, the opposite is true: over-cleaning will unbalance the genital area!

On the other hand, poor hygiene and showers too far apart can of course encourage the development of bacteria, especially when you sweat a lot or your panties are always very wet. A short and efficient shower is better than a bath!

Forgetting to put a sanitary protection in the vagina

A bad smell can also be due to a forgotten tampon or another protection or internal contraceptive like a diaphragm. Indeed, it can happen that some women, especially at the end of their cycle, forget a tampon inside their vagina, especially if the tampon thread is no longer visible. Be careful with the use of tampons: it is imperative not to keep them for more than 6 hours, and to change them as soon as they become uncomfortable or after a water activity. Indeed, the use of tampon and in particular if one keeps it too long can involve risks to make a Syndrome of the Toxic shock. In the same way, before putting a new tampon in, make sure that the way is clear and that the previous one is well removed.
It is also harmful for the vaginal flora to wear tampons "as a prevention" outside of your period or to absorb asmelly white discharge that you consider too important. Tampons will absorb all the good bacteria and thus dry out the walls of the vagina, which will no longer be able to fight infections. This method of sanitary protection should be used sparingly!

Bacterial vaginosis

If you notice that your vaginal discharge has an unpleasant smell of rotten fish, it could be bacterial vaginosis (or other STIs, vaginitis...). Most of the time due to an imbalance of the vaginal flora, caused by the bacterium Gardnerella vaginalis, it is the most frequent vaginal infection in menstruating women. Half of bacterial vaginosis is asymptomatic, but the rest of the time it can be accompanied by other symptoms such as burning, abnormal discharge, whitish, yellow or grayish ...

Many external factors

Other factors can also be responsible for a bad smell of leucorrhoea:

  • Sexual intercourse, because the PH of the vagina is different from that of the semen, which is alkaline when that of the vagina is acid. With the coagulation of the sperm at the bottom of the vagina, this can lead to effluvia which should however remain temporary
  • Foods that influence our body signature: asparagus for example, well known for perfuming the smell of urine, has the same effect on vaginal productions, but also garlic, onions, citrus fruits...
  • Medicines or vitamin supplements, modifying our internal chemistry and our production of estrogen and progesterone
  • Lubricants or condoms, scented or not, can give a light rubber or plastic smell temporarily

How to treat malodorous discharge?

If your white discharge seems malodorous or abnormal, or if a smelly liquid like water or yellow discharge stains your bottom, it is always wise to consult your doctor or gynecologist. If your leucorrhoea is completely normal, there is no real need for treatment. However, if you have symptoms of infection or fungus, your health care provider may prescribe medication.

Our tips to avoid malodorous discharge!

To avoid infections, which are responsible for odor loss, it is important to have a balanced lifestyle and to take care of your body!

Pamper your body and vagina

First of all, it is necessary to take the problem at its root, and avoid the imbalance of the vaginal flora. To do this, we recommend the following tips, before resorting to a drug treatment:

  • Take care of your intimate hygiene, without over-cleaning or showering too often
  • Use a soap with a neutral PH, without perfume, without internal vaginal shower: it is enough to simply clean the vulva, that is to say the external genital area of the woman
  • Wash after sports, excessive sweating and sexual relations
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing made of natural materials such as cotton to allow for proper absorption of moisture and perspiration.
  • Eat a balanced diet, not too fatty or too sweet, and drink regularly
  • Change your sanitary protection regularly during your period
  • Do not have multiple unprotected sexual partners: this increases the risk of sexually transmitted infections, such as bacterial vaginosis

If this does not work, a consultation with your gynecologist or your doctor can help you.

Opt for external sanitary protection

In general, internal sanitary protection changes the balance of the vagina: the blood of the endometrium and the white discharge are made to be evacuated, eliminating with them the residues and protecting the vaginal flora from aggressions! We therefore recommend that you use external sanitary protection until the menopause, which does not alter the natural balance of your vaginal wall and cervix.

In order to avoid all the intimate discomforts that you may encounter and that may cause you to have a foul-smelling and abundant white discharge, we particularly recommend that you wear menstrual panties.

Try as soon as possible to choose them in organic cotton and certified oeko-tex, to ensure their harmlessness to the body. Enjoy them, ours are! Very soft for your vulva, they will bring you the comfort you need during your cycles.

FAQs on smelly discharge

Why does discharge smell?

If it is common for white discharge to have a slight natural acid smell, it is not normal for your leucorrhoea to have an unpleasant odour. Poor genital hygiene or a bacterial infection may be responsible for thick, foul-smelling discharge.

How can I stop white smelly discharge?

If your unpleasant discharge is not related to bacterial vaginosis or fungus, there is no need to resort to drug treatment and consultation. All you have to do is to respect an intimate hygiene without excess, a balanced diet, to wear breathable clothes and to favour external hygienic protections like menstrual panties.

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