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Vaginal Odor Hygiene Products What Works

Written by Emma McGeorge

feminine hygiene products

Although a mild vaginal odor is natural, many women turn to feminine hygiene products to ‘improve’ their genital aroma. While some are beneficial, other feminine hygiene products do more harm than good. In this article, we’ll discuss what works best for vaginal odor & hygiene and what doesn’t.  

What Does a Healthy Vagina Smell Like? 

A healthy vaginal odor is commonly described as tangy, slightly fermented, or sour. That said, each vagina has a unique smell, which is largely dependent on what the vagina owner eats, wears, and drinks, as well as their overall health, bacterial balance, hormone fluctuations, and general hygiene. 

Poor hygiene, for example, can cause a build-up of sweat and bacteria that emits a musty odor from an otherwise healthy vagina. During menstruation, a perfectly healthy vagina can smell slightly metallic due to the presence of blood. And consuming strong-smelling foods like asparagus, broccoli, garlic, or onions, can result in a robust but temporary smell from the vagina. 

A noticeable foul vaginal odor that lingers for a few days is not normal and typically indicates the presence of a vaginal infection.

What Causes Unpleasant Vaginal Odors?

When an unpleasant vaginal odor lingers despite daily washing and the absence of menstruation or eating strong-smelling foods, the cause is generally an underlying infection, such as a Yeast Infection, Bacterial Vaginosis (BV), or Trichomoniasis Vaginalis (TV). These infections are typically caused by an overgrowth of bacteria or yeast within the vaginal ecosystem.

Often identified by the presence of a lumpy, white, cottage cheese-like vaginal discharge, yeast infections can also result in genital itching and a beer-like or yeasty vaginal odor. BV is typically characterized by a fishy-smelling vaginal odor, genital inflammation & itching, a burning sensation when peeing, and pain during sex. 

Although TV, which is also known as Trich, emits a smell similar to rotting meat or fish, this STI is often odorless and symptomless for many women. When symptoms do occur, they may include vaginal inflammation and itching, discomfort while urinating, and a green or yellow vaginal discharge. 

The good news is, unpleasant vaginal odors and infections can largely be prevented with good daily hygiene habits and lifestyle choices. 

Vaginal Odors & Hygiene – What Doesn’t Work?

Feminine hygiene products that promise sweet-smelling vaginas are often harmful to the delicate pH balance within the vagina and are frequently the cause of unpleasant vaginal odors rather than the solution. When it comes to protecting the vaginal ecosystem and keeping unpleasant genital odors and infections at bay, female health experts recommend avoiding the following:

  • Douching, which involves spraying a synthetic wash inside the vagina, is incredibly disruptive to the natural vaginal ecosystem and typically does more harm than good. Disrupting the natural bacterial balance means the vagina is more susceptible to infections that result in unpleasant odors. 
  • Fragranced feminine hygiene products like scented tampons, pads, or wipes can also upset the vaginal microflora. Similar to douching, these can irritate sensitive vaginal tissues and disrupt the natural pH balance, potentially leading to infections that cause odor and discomfort.
  • Wearing tight-fitting underwear, or underwear made with synthetic materials can prevent air from circulating. Trapping moisture and heat around the genitals can create an environment conducive to bacterial overgrowth, vaginal infections, and unpleasant odors.
  • Overwashing the vagina can destroy the beneficial bacteria and natural protective barriers that exist within and around the vagina. Washing the vagina once or twice per day is recommended – any more than that could lead to irritation, unwanted odor, and infections.

Vaginal Odors & Hygiene – What Works?

Maintaining good overall hygiene, avoiding synthetic feminine products, and practicing safe sex are key factors in supporting vaginal health and minimizing vaginal odors. For a natural-smelling vagina and optimal genital hygiene, the following hygiene habits are recommended by female health experts.

  • A daily wash of the outer vagina with warm water, a clean washcloth, and unscented soap is all that is required to cleanse the genitals daily. There is no need to wash inside the vagina. 
  • Wear breathable cotton underwear to absorb any moisture from perspiration and allow air to circulate in the genital area. Wearing breathable cotton underwear not only minimizes unpleasant odors from the vagina, it also reduces the humidity around the genitals thereby lowering the risk of bacterial overgrowth and vaginal infections. 
  • Take a daily women's probiotic to keep your vaginal ecosystem healthy, particularly if you are prone to recurring vaginal infections. In the same way that probiotics improve gut health and digestion, they are also effective in balancing vaginal pH levels and keeping infections from bacteria and parasites at bay. At Intimate Rose, we added cranberry and D-Mannose to our Flora Bloom Feminine Probiotics, making it even more difficult for infections to set in.
  • Change out of damp gym gear or wet swimsuits as soon as you finish your workout to prevent yeast and bacteria from thriving in a humid environment. Yeast or bacteria that are allowed to thrive can cause vaginal infections that include a foul vaginal odor as a symptom.  
  • Choose loose-fitting pants or skirts that allow air to circulate and help reduce the build-up of unpleasant odors.  
  • Drinking at least 1.0 – 1.5 liters of water per day to stay hydrated and eating a well-balanced diet to encourage your overall health will also help keep the vagina healthy and smelling natural. 
  • Practice safe sex by using condoms or a dam with new partners to help prevent the transmission of STIs that can cause unpleasant vaginal odors.
  • Urinate after sex to flush out any harmful bacteria that can get transmitted during intercourse and wash the genitals with warm water and unscented soap to keep the vagina healthy and smelling fresh.  
  • Always wipe front to back after using the toilet to prevent any harmful bacteria from spreading from the anus to the vagina. 
  • When experiencing unpleasant vaginal odors associated with BV, Trich, or yeast infections, Boric Acid is a natural chemical that can be used along with antibiotic treatment to reduce the associated smell and additional symptoms. Intimate Rose Boric Balance Suppositories are designed to dissolve quickly, restore healthy pH levels, and provide relief within 24 hours. 


It’s normal for vaginas to emit a mild odor, and each vagina’s smell can also vary according to the time of the month, what you eat, drink, and what you wear. Unusual or strong vaginal odors can be a sign of various infections including bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, and trichomoniasis. 

If you are experiencing persistent or concerning vaginal odors, make an appointment with your healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment. 


Cleveland Clinic – Vaginal Odors - https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/17905-vaginal-odor

Mayo Clinic – Bacterial Vaginosis - https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bacterial-vaginosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20352279

National Library of Medicine - Vaginal pH Value for Clinical Diagnosis and Treatment of Common Vaginitis - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8618584/

Centers For Disease Control & Prevention – Trichomoniasis - https://www.cdc.gov/std/trichomonas/stdfact-trichomoniasis.htm

National Library of Medicine - Clinicians’ use of Intravaginal Boric Acid Maintenance Therapy for Recurrent Vulvovaginal Candidiasis and Bacterial Vaginosis - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6878170/

Journal of The Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association - The Antimicrobial Effect of Boric Acid on Trichomonas vaginalis - https://journals.lww.com/stdjournal/Fulltext/2014/12000/The_Antimicrobial_Effect_of_Boric_Acid_on.6.aspx