9 natural ways to keep your vagina clean and smelling good
A healthy vagina has a normal smell, discharge and a balanced pH level. A vagina will smell normal and have healthy bacteria when the pH is slightly acidic, that is, between 3.8 and 4.5. These healthy, harmless bacteria and vaginal discharge keep the vagina clean and free of infection.
If your pH level is too high, you may experience redness, rash or a burning sensation. There are natural remedies that can help restore this balance. But you may want to contact your healthcare provider to check for infections and other health conditions treatable with medication.
Signs of unbalanced pH levels in your vagina
Before discussing the vaginal pH balance (pH stands for potential hydrogen), it’s crucial to discuss normal vaginal flora. Normal flora consists of healthy microorganisms such as bacteria, yeast, and other fungi. Think of it as a small ecosystem in the vagina that is essential for maintaining a healthy pH balance.
Factors including diet, medications, hormones, and lifestyle can disrupt the balance. It can lead to high pH levels in which harmful bacteria can grow with ease. This can lead to bacterial vaginosis (BV).
Natural ways to keep your vagina clean and smelling good
If your vaginal pH level is unbalanced, your healthcare provider may prescribe something to help restore balance. However, these are some natural things you can do in the meantime.
Antibiotics are great for eliminating bacteria that make us sick. But they can kill good bacteria in the process. As a result, the vaginal pH increases and becomes more alkaline, leaving room for pathogens to grow. Probiotics (Lactobacilli) help keep the balance.
Eating a well-balanced diet high in fiber is one of the best ways to keep probiotics at healthy levels. Probiotics occur naturally in fermented foods such as:
- Sourdough bread, etc
Eat garlic-rich food or take garlic supplements:
Garlic is known to have antibacterial and antifungal properties. And according to some studies helps fight off vaginal infections. When eaten as part of a healthy diet, garlic is generally safe. Do not use it directly in or around the vagina.
Note: High amounts can increase the risk of bleeding and may interfere with the effectiveness of some medications. Check with your healthcare provider before taking garlic supplements.
Add Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) to your routine
If ACV is something you’d like to try, it should be taken by mouth. As many people add it to their health routine its antibacterial and anti-fungal effects. You can drink diluted apple cider vinegar or take it in a supplement form. Do not use it directly on the vagina, diluted or not.
Drinking plenty of water helps flush toxins and regulate the vagina’s ecosystem. Dehydration can lead to itching around the vagina or worsen yeast infections.
Eat less sugar
Increased sugar in the body can fuel yeast growth or cause higher pH levels. Avoid or limit excess sugar in foods and drinks such as alcohol, soda, refined bread or pasta, ice cream, candy, e.t.c.
Manage stress levels
Stress increases cortisol, which disrupts the acid-base balance in the vagina. Some stressors are beyond our control, so managing them is the next best choice.
Avoid douching your vagina
Douching means cleaning the inside of the vagina with water or a solution. This is not recommended because it can cause pH imbalances and disrupt normal flora.
Douching may also worsen an infection by pushing the bacteria into the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. This can lead to a severe health problem called pelvic inflammatory disease.
Wear breathable, cotton underwear
This provides airflow. Synthetic fabrics trap sweat and moisture, which allows bacteria and yeast to grow. It’s also a good idea to change promptly after being in water or sweating to keep the area dry.
Protect your vagina during sex
Semen has a pH level between 7.1 and 8. Having unprotected sex increases the pH of the vagina briefly. Although this isn’t healthy for the vagina if protracted, an increased pH is helpful when trying to conceive a baby because it helps protect the sperm. Items such as condoms protect the vagina from exposure to the higher pH of semen
Experiencing uncomfortable vaginal symptoms such as rash, swelling, pain, unusual discharge, or unpleasant odour can feel embarrassing. However, fluctuations in pH balance are very normal and happen to most people at some point in their lives. Don’t let embarrassment keep you from seeking proper care. Waiting could cause your symptoms to worsen.