Vaginal odor and discomfort can be embarrassing. For some women, it can be a recurring problem. Normally, estrogen causes an increase in glycogen, which then promotes growth of the healthy bacteria, mainly lactobacilli. Vaginal issues often arise from an imbalance of bacteria and yeast leading to Yeast Infections and Bacterial Vaginosis, among others. This can be caused by hormonal changes, diet, sex, antibiotic use, etc.
Ok, so now that we can understand how these changes happen, the next question is how can I minimize my doctor’s visits? There are tons of ways to promote vaginal health and hygiene. The one I will focus on here is by taking a daily probiotic. Many of us know that eating yogurt can help with vaginal health and hygiene. Taking a probiotic is a great way to ensure an adequate ingestion of “good” bacteria, especially for those of us (ahem myself included) who are lactose intolerant.
Probiotics help to recolonize the vaginal tissue with this healthy bacteria, which in turn increases lactic acid production, keeping the pH at a healthy level. There are many brands out there, I have found the best results are those that are refrigerated and have a high bacterial count.
One danger in taking too much bacteria is it can lead to loose stools, which can then cause contamination with the bad bacteria in the vagina. Remember to adjust your dose according to your symptoms.
They say happy wife, happy life. I say happy vagina, happy life.
Dr. Wendy: “Hey Shells, this topic is too good. Can I get in on this one?”
Dr. Shelly: “Sure Wen. Take it away!”
There are some probiotics that have been shown with legitimate evidence to be more effective in repopulating the vagina with normal bacteria over others. Two that are seen repeatedly in the literature are L. rhamnosus, and L. fermentum, later renamed L. reuteri.
“Probiotics, especially L. acidophilus, L. rhamnosus GR-1 and L. fermentum (reuteri) RC-14, may be considered as potential empirical preventive agents in women who suffer from frequent episodes of VVC [Vulvovaginal candidiasis] (more than three episodes per year), since adverse effects from their use are scarce…”
“L. rhamnosus GR-1 and L. reuteri RC-14 probiotic group [led to more] lactobacilli-dominated normal vaginal microbiota restored from a BV [bacterial vaginosis] vaginal flora…”
Other ways to reduce external vaginal odor are:
- Get out that electric shaver and trim the hedges. Hair can hold odor, so image aside, occasionally you just need to start afresh (pun intended). Electric shavers are not painful and will leave less, if any, ingrown hair or razor bumps.
- Consider stainless steel (unless you have a metal allergy!). There are stainless steel body bars that can be used in the shower that can remove odors in the same way that your stainless steel kitchen faucet can get that onion and garlic smell off of your hands. This is due to some kind of chemical reaction that I can’t explain, but really does reduce odor.
- Alcohol, but be careful. Bacteria on the external skin of the groin can make odors waft even after a good shower. A light application of rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball to the external skin can cut down on odors. If you aren’t careful and accidentally douse the vagina itself, be ready for the burn. There is no role for alcohol on the inside of the vagina, ever. Beware.
Whether you think you smell like a pond, or a bag of White Castle hamburgers, hopefully these tips will help you stay fresh. Always consult with your doctor if you have questions. Don’t let your lady parts take you down.