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How to Improve Vaginal Odor and Discharge

Medically reviewed by Mary Rani Cadiz, MD · Obstetrics and Gynecology

Written by Kathy Kenny Ylaya Ngo · Updated May 06, 2021

How to Improve Vaginal Odor and Discharge

The vagina has secretions made by the skin cells of the vagina and cervix under the influence of the female hormone, estrogen that have a certain natural odor. There are different vagina smells  for every woman.

It can depend on a woman’s hygiene, age, physiological markers, physical activity, menstrual cycle phase, the food that she eats, and the activities that she engages in. 

A healthy vagina needs to have good bacteria and a balanced pH to make it smell healthy. If it’s healthy, it will smell like light, fermented milk, musky or fleshy. If a woman is having her menstrual cycle, her vagina might smell metallic. After sexual intercourse, the smell of her vagina will also change temporarily.

The good news is that your vagina cleans itself naturally and can maintain a healthy pH on its own. This keeps unhealthy bacteria at bay. However, certain situations can cause the vagina to produce different vagina smells. If you notice a difference in how your vagina smells normally and it stays for days, it’s best to consult your doctor. 

Make sure that you also know your vaginal scent. Knowing how you normally smell down there will help you identify if a problem happens in the future. 

Vaginal discharge is common. But copious, greenish vaginal discharge with fishy smell, associated itchiness, or bleeding should be evaluated promptly.

What is Healthy, Normal Vaginal Odor?

What Causes Vaginal Malodor? 

There are different reasons for your vagina to smell differently. 

Foreign body reaction

Certain fabrics (synthetic underwear and thongs) can trap in heat and moisture which can affect the way your vagina smells.

Cotton underwear seems to be the recommended type of clothing since it’s breathable. Sometimes, tampons or condoms may cause irritation. This also applies to substances such as feminine hygiene sprays, powders, and other scented bath products.

Bacterial infection

The most common vaginal infection is called bacterial vaginosis. It commonly affects women ages 15 to 44 years of age.

There is no definite cause, but this happens when the balance between the good bacteria and the bad bacteria is tipped. Women who are sexually active and women who douche are at a bigger risk of developing bacterial vaginosis. Douching is not recommended.

Yeast infection

A yeast infection is a type of fungal infection that causes the vagina to have a white, curd-like discharge with intense itchiness.


This is a form of STD. It causes yellow-green, frothy, foul-smelling vaginal discharge that smells fishy. 

improve vaginal odor

How to Improve Vaginal Odor 

There are different ways that can help the way your vagina smells. After all, if you smell better down there, your confidence as a woman goes up and you feel more at ease going about your daily routine. 

Good hygiene

It’s important that when you bathe, you take extra care of your vagina. Use water or unscented non-soap cleanser to wash genitalia, use warm (not hot) water and the hand (not a washcloth) wash off dead skin, dirt, and sweat that may have gathered, especially in the folds of your labia. 

Prescription treatments

Medications are needed to treat vaginal infection causing malodorous discharge. Make sure that you do not self-medicate as there are appropriate medication for a particular infection

Wear loose fitting clothing

Some clothing can be too tight and trap in heat, moisture, and bacteria which can cause your vagina to have a musky odor. Make sure that your vagina is able to breathe and the clothes that you are wearing allows for air to pass through.  It would be best to wear cotton underwear, avoid thongs and Lycra underwear.

Wash after sex

After every time you have sexual intercourse, make sure to practice proper hygiene. Wash your genital area afterwards to wash off any body fluid that has been secreted. Wash with water but do not douche. Also, do not use scented lubricants as this can cause an imbalance in the pH of your vagina.

Clean Properly after Urination

Always wipe from front to back when cleaning the genital area to push the bacteria away from the vagina. 

Change frequently

If you have your period, make sure that you change your pad or tampon often. Also, do not wear a pantyliner for long periods of time as this may become a breeding ground for bacteria. 


Drinking water regularly can help ensure that all of your internal systems are working properly. This helps regulate everything, including how your vagina smells since it prevents bacterial overgrowth. 

Lessen sugar, meat, and alcohol

Lessen sugar intake. Too much sugar intake can trigger the growth of yeast infection which affects the vagina and changes the way you naturally smell in between your legs. 

Lessen your consumption of red meat and alcohol as this makes the vagina smell acidic. Too much spices, onion, garlic and coffee can also affect your vaginal odor. 

Key Takeaways

All women want to smell fresh and clean down there but should a situation arise where the vagina smells less than pleasant, just be sure to reach out to your doctor so that they can help fix the problem. With the right medication, self-care, and clothing, you can prevent vaginal malodor and go about your life with confidence. 

Learn more about women’s health, here.


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

Medically reviewed by

Mary Rani Cadiz, MD

Obstetrics and Gynecology

Written by Kathy Kenny Ylaya Ngo · Updated May 06, 2021

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