Smelly Discharge: Treatments to Choose and Ingredients to Avoid

    Smelly Discharge: Treatments to Choose and Ingredients to Avoid

    Every healthy vagina has a distinct smell, and it is normal to have discharge. But if the discharge has an unpleasant odor, it may indicate a more serious condition. It could be because of health issues with your reproductive system or just a need for better personal hygiene. Read on to learn more about how to get rid of smelly discharge by treatments and personal care.

    Causes of Unpleasant Vaginal Odor (Smelly Discharge)

    To know how to get rid of smelly discharge, it’s important to first understand its possible causes.

    The following conditions and habits are the possible causes of smelly discharge:

    • Bacterial vaginosis. The vagina is home to good bacteria that protect it from infection. If there is a bacteria overgrowth, it will ruin the balance, causing itchiness, painful urination, and other symptoms.
    • Trichomoniasis. An infection acquired from sexual intercourse, which lists unpleasant odor as one of its symptoms.
    • Vaginal and cervical cancer. In some rare cases, the symptoms of these types of cancer can include smelly discharge.
    • Too much sweating. Of course, sweating is normal, especially when doing excessive activities. The sweat may linger on the pelvic area and cause an unpleasant smell.
    • Unhealthy diet. When a person has an unhealthy diet, their vaginal pH may be thrown out of balance. This will likely cause smelly odor and discharge.
    • Poor hygiene. Having inadequate hygiene involves being unable to urinate after intercourse, inappropriate wiping after using the toilet, and wearing the same underwear for more than a day.
    • Long-time use of sanitary pad or tampon. One factor for developing toxic vaginal bacteria, a life-threatening illness, is using a sanitary pad or tampon for a long time during menstruation.
    • Menstrual cycle. A normal cause of the smelly discharge is because the blood has a high pH balance during the cycle. However, a hormonal imbalance during the menopausal stage can cause smelly discharge and odor as well.

    How to get rid of smelly discharge

    Each cause of smelly discharge has different treatments, but if it is because of certain lifestyle habits, these are the treatments or remedies you can do try.

    • Practice safe sex to prevent infections that can cause smelly discharge.
    • Use non-fragrance products for washing underwear and vaginal cleansing.
    • Do not wear tight clothing. Use loose garments instead to avoid moisture accumulation in the area.
    • Eat healthy foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals.

    Please remember to also consult your doctor, especially if trying any creams or medication.

    For infections, your doctor may prescribe certain creams or pills. They may also let us know how to get rid of smelly discharge if you have cancer or vaginal infections.

    • Bacterial vaginosis. For this, treatment may come in the form of a pill or cream. The ingredients of which include metronidazole or clindamycin. You may receive prescriptions for this cream after consulting a doctor.
    • Yeast infections. On how to get rid of smelly discharge caused by yeast infections, doctors may also prescribe a cream. The ingredients may include miconazole, clotrimazole, and antifungals.
    • Genitourinary syndrome of menopause. Estrogen therapy is typically the treatment for this. Doctors may prescribe rings, creams, and tablets. However, risk factors should be considered as complications may arise.
    • Some non-infectious vaginitis. Avoid using soaps, detergents, napkins, or tampons that likely led to unpleasant vaginal odor and discharge.

    For cancer patients with unpleasant vaginal odor

    Those living with cancer may develop sensitivity to certain ingredients they use once they start chemotherapy.

    As for how to get rid of smelly discharge without risking their health even more, it is important to take note of ingredients to avoid.

    Remember to check for these ingredients in creams and other products used to treat smelly discharge, which can cause harm to cancer patients.

    • Metronidazole. This drug is usually present in creams for treating smelly discharge. However, cancer patients should be careful. Consult your doctor first before using products with metronidazole. Side effects include rashes, itchiness, swelling of the face, difficulty breathing, swallowing, and breathing. Other patients may also experience other problems with the nervous system.
    • Miconazole. After evaluating the effect miconazole on cancer patients, a study concluded that it has several side effects. These include gastrointestinal disorders such as upper abdominal pain, oral discomfort, nausea, and vomiting.
    • Estrogen. Vaginal creams with high amounts of estrogen are dangerous as they can be a risk factor. They may increase the risk of cancer and other patterns of cardiovascular diseases. It is better to consult a doctor before using estrogen-laden products.
    • Fragrance and alcohol. These products can irritate the skin, especially during the course of chemotherapy. These can also be an irritant, as they can be harsh on the skin, and cause an allergic reaction. Instead of fragrance and alcohol, look for products with glycerin and hyaluronic acid as they have a moisturizing effect.

    Key Takeaways

    Every vagina has a natural odor. And so if there is a drastic, noticeable change, we can determine if there is a problem or infection.

    Remember that smelly discharge is the usual symptom of any vaginitis. But it could also be signalling other conditions or a need to improve one’s hygiene habits.

    For possible remedies, check the label and watch out for the ingredients that can pose risks to your health, especially for those undergoing cancer treatment.

    Finally, the best course of action is to consult a doctor about how to get rid of smelly discharge, especially if it’s persistent. They will be able to recommend more effective treatments to improve vaginal discharge odor in the future.

    Learn more about women’s health here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Mae Charisse Antalan, MD

    General Practitioner


    Written by Shienna Santelices · Updated 4 weeks ago

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