What can I do about the smell…?

A reader recently asked me the following question on Formspring:

I've been having a problem with strong vaginal odor. STD testing came back negative, but I'm not sure what to do. Any suggestions?

Answer: Thanks for your question, as I'm sure you're not alone! Since you didn't provide a lot of detail, I wonder:

Is the odor constant throughout the month? Have you had any hormonal or dietary changes recently, or are you on any medication? Are your periods normal?

I commend you for getting tested to rule out any infections. I hope that you and your doctor discussed your overall health and whether you need to see a specialist.

I assume your doctor let you know that douches are not a good solution. Douching can actually change the healthy bacteria in your vagina and has been linked to an increase in vaginal health problems. If you want to learn more about douching from Health and Human Services, click here.

I talked with two friends who have their PhDs in health, and we came up with several suggestions. You might wish to consider:

  • Taking a probiotic supplement or increasing your yogurt intake. That idea is confirmed by Drs. Northrup and Oz to get the right balance of healthy bacteria in your vagina.
  • Reducing or eliminating tobacco and alcohol from your diet.
  • Limiting dairy (other than yogurt), red meat, foods with a lot of alkaline (like certain fish), garlic, broccoli and asparagus.
  • Confirming with your doctor whether you were tested for a bacterial infection or BV.
  • Increasing your intake of pineapple and orange fruit or juice. (Non-scientific studies have shown a link between taste/odor and intake of these fruits.)
  • Increasing exercise to help sweat the unhealthy bacteria out. (Make sure that you're wearing cotton underwear that isn't too tight when you're exercising.)
  • Investigating whether you could be having an allergic reaction to latex, a bath product (soap, tampons, powders, etc.), lubricant or toy. Make sure you're using natural products or eliminate one of them to determine if it's causing problems.

I hope that it can be resolved in the not so distant future. Please keep me posted.

It's worth remembering that clean, healthy vaginas have some natural odor. Our bodies are wild, wonderous things. We shouldn't be ashamed of them.

Readers, did I miss anything? Do you use any natural bath products or lubricants? What are your favorites?

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