Contrary to popular belief, strong smelling vaginal secretions, which can cause unpleasant intimate odours, are not a sign of inappropriate or inadequate body hygiene. On the contrary, they may indicate a condition.
What causes intimate odours?
Vaginal secretions have a natural odour which corresponds to balanced vaginal flora. In the event of an imbalance in the vaginal ecosystem, unusual odours may develop. These are very often caused by the proliferation of certain bacteria.
In addition, an unusual intimate odour is often accompanied by another vaginal symptom. It is therefore important to be vigilant and to seek the opinion of a health professional, if necessary.
Are unusual intimate odours indicative of a medical condition?
Yes. They may correspond to bacterial vaginosis. This is caused by an imbalance in the vaginal microbial flora. Healthy vaginal flora is the vagina's principal natural defence mechanism against vulvovaginal infections. It mainly comprises "friendly bacteria" known as lactobacilli. If there is a shortage of these bacteria, there is an imbalance in the vaginal flora which therefore becomes more sensitive to medical conditions.
What are the risk factors of vaginal flora imbalance?
- Excessive personal hygiene, inappropriate personal hygiene or vaginal douches
- Hormonal variations (pregnancy, contraception with the mini pill, intrauterine device and menopause)
- The use of antibiotics or antiseptics
- Wearing clothes that are too tight.
How can strong and unpleasant intimate odours be masked?
By investigating and treating the cause. To do this, consult your gynaecologist. If possible, avoid scented protective hygiene products and intimate deodorants containing agents that are often aggressive for the intimate area and which could accentuate the problem.
So how do you treat the medical condition?
By treating the cause – bacterial vaginosis. To this, make an appointment with a health care professional who will prescribe appropriate treatment for you (antibiotic containing nitro-5-imidazole) and, possibly, in addition, vaginal probiotics to restore the balance of the vaginal flora.