After writing the last article about boric acid suppositories, there rose a burning question: “How do I know when I should start using boric acid suppositories?”

Obviously, you should not be using boric acid suppositories without checking with your doctor beforehand. But even knowing that, when do you know it is time to schedule an appointment with your health care provider? The answer is quite simple!

Each of us has some level of vaginal odor – and that is normal. No matter what social media and the rest of the internet tell you, having some type of bodily smell is normal and we all have it, there is nothing wrong with that!

The key to a healthy vagina is knowing yourself when it comes to your normal odor, normal amount of discharge, normal color of discharge, and normal density of discharge. When you notice slight changes in these, then it is time to go see your doctor and run some tests.

So, what is vaginal odor and how does it happen? Vaginal odor is the way your vagina naturally smells, and when we say that we usually mean the smell that discharge gives off. Some vaginal odor is normal, but if it is persistent and unusual, it could be a sign of a more serious problem. If you are overweight and have diabetes in your family, you should have a look at articles talking about everything you need to know about vaginal odor and diabetes

Multiple factors can cause vaginal odor, and we came prepared with a list of the most common ones:

1. Leaving a Tampon in for too long

This is the most common cause of vaginal odor: forgetting to change the tampon after 4 hours can cause a specific smell. This can happen in multiple cases: sometimes women insert a tampon without being on their period, just to be safe, and then forget about it. Gynecologists admit they had at least one case of women coming to a check-up for vaginal odor and discovering a forgotten tampon that was inserted there since forever!

Although this can be very dangerous and it can cause severe problems such as toxic shock syndrome, this is a common cause. Be careful and be aware of inserted tampons!

2. Untreated Bacterial Infections

If you ever wondered which is the most commonly encountered medical condition of the vagina, well, there you have it: studies have shown that women over 30 years old have had bacterial vaginosis at least once. This infection happens when the levels of harmful bacteria grow, and they start affecting your vagina’s natural pH level.

But why does the odor happen? Well, the pH is responsible for the way your vagina smells, and since the number of harmful bacteria grows, they cause this specific odor and discharge. The first-line treatment is taking antibiotics, and if that does not work, then your doctor will most likely recommend you boric acid suppositories.

Anyways, if you are noticing changes when it comes to vaginal discharge, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor.

3. Eating some types of food

Some types of food can temporally affect the way your vagina smells, but there is no serious outcome of this. Foods like onion, asparagus, or garlic can give you a specific odor, so if you have something planned, you should try and avoid consuming these foods 24h before the big event!

4. Having unprotected sex

The whole act of intercourse is messy: there are lots of bodily fluids mixing involved, sweat, lube, and lots and lots of bacteria. It is only normal for you to smell a little bit differently than you usually do, but if that persists even after a shower, then you should probably pay a little more attention for the following days and schedule an appointment with your health care provider for a medical check-up!

5. Your menstrual cycle

There are lots of things happening in your body during your menstrual cycle. Since blood has a slightly different pH level than the vagina, it is only natural for your vaginal flora to be a little bit thrown off. That usually causes a change in smell, too, although it is not a huge difference from the usual one.

It should also go away once your period ends, so no problems there!

6. Some yeast infections

When we say yeast infection we automatically think of dense, milky, or greyish discharge. Usually, this discharge also comes with a distinct smell, itching, and swelling. No worries, yeast infections can be treated with off-the-counter medicine, and it usually does not take long until they go away!

We recommend you check up with an expert before choosing to follow a certain treatment!

7. Sexually transmitted infections

Being sexually active and having multiple sex partners increases the risk of developing bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, but also STIs such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. These usually cause a foul odor and an unusual colored discharge.

If you are experiencing burning pain during urination or intercourse, discharge, you should go see a doctor!

8. Wearing synthetic underwear

When you choose underwear, you most certainly choose it by the way it looks. Lace, intricate patterns, shiny materials – these are the most popular criteria for choosing underwear. Have you ever considered that the underwear’s material could be responsible for your discomfort?

Some materials do not allow your sensitive skin to breathe and trap in heat and moisture. This throws off the pH of your vagina, by increasing the number of harmful bacteria, thus causing an unpleasant smell. Next time you are going underwear shopping, be sure to choose cotton!

Did we answer your questions? Having a certain level of vaginal odor is completely normal, but if you notice a strong odor, similar to fish or musky, then you should go see a doctor! Sometimes discharge might smell different because of your menstrual cycle, or because of sweat, but that’s normal, too!

Do not let social media and the internet telling you how you should smell: everybody has a certain, distinct bodily odor and that’s only natural for us to be that way!