Vaginal odor during pregnancy can be normal in most women. Changes in hormones and urine composition can be the reason for it. Although many women share pregnancy fears and experiences with friends and family for de-stressing, it can be overwhelming for many to talk about some issues such as vaginal smell. An unpleasant or foul smell from the vagina may occur in pregnancy, and many hesitate to address it on time. Never hesitate to seek your obstetrician’s consultation to identify the cause of vaginal smell in pregnancy and its treatments.
Read on to know the causes and easy measures to eliminate vaginal odor during pregnancy.
Is Vaginal Odor Normal During Pregnancy?
Whether a faint smell or a strong one, vaginal odor is normal in pregnancy. The smell could be fishy or ammonia-like due to the changes in the urine. Sometimes, the smell could be accompanied by a discharge too. If it is not bothering you much, you don’t have to worry about it. A few home remedies can help deal with it easily.
Continue reading to know what causes vaginal odor during pregnancy.
What Causes Vaginal Smell During Pregnancy?
The reasons for vaginal odor vary from case to case. For some, it could be due to lifestyle changes during pregnancy, while for others, it could be a result of infections.
- Bacterial vaginosis: It is an infection that could occur in pregnant women. In the early stages of this infection, there is vaginal odor followed by itchiness. If the condition is bothering you a lot, you should see a gynecologist (1).
- MoniliaiXFormer name of candida, a type of yeast yeast infection: This infection could be a result of hormonal changes, lack of sleep, diabetes, tight-fitting underwear or clothes, or medications and treatments. Yeast infections are common in pregnant women and can result in unpleasant and strong odor (2).
- Abnormal vaginal discharge: Odorless vaginal discharge is usually common during pregnancy. But when you get a strong odor, it could be due to infections that can be treated (3).
- Poor hygiene: Wearing tight clothes, using chemical-based products, wipes, sprays, and not bathing for several days could also lead to vaginal odor.
- Hormonal changes and diet: Like most other pregnancy changes, the vaginal odor could also be due to the hormonal imbalance during pregnancy. Fluctuation in hormone levels, combined with a change in the dietary patterns during pregnancy, could cause a foul-smelling vagina.
- Amniotic fluid leakage: Amniotic fluid is clear, thin, and typically odorless. If you experience amniotic fluid leakage, especially in the last trimester, and notice an unusual or foul smell, it might indicate an infection. A typical amniotic fluid smell may signal a meconium stain or fluid leak during labor. In such cases, seek immediate medical attention (4).
In addition, to the causes mentioned above, a foul vaginal odor could also suggest vaginitis, which is a vaginal infection.
Types of Vaginitis
Vaginitis is a vaginal inflammation that can cause burning sensations, itching, an unpleasant odor, or increased vaginal discharge. Common types of vaginitis include:
- Yeast Infections: Caused by fungal overgrowth; its symptoms include vaginal burning, irritation, and thick white discharge.
- Atrophic Vaginitis: A noninfectious condition linked to low estrogen, causing vaginal itching, abnormal discharge, and dryness.
- Bacterial Vaginosis: A condition resulting from a bacterial overgrowth, leading to vaginal burning, a fishy odor, and discomfort.
- Trichomoniasis: A sexually-transmitted vaginal infection caused by an organism (parasite). Its symptoms include increased and foul-smelling vaginal discharge (5).
The odor can be reduced or eliminated by following a few tips that target the underlying cause for it.
How To Get Rid Of Vaginal Odor When Pregnant?
Bad smell from your vagina should be taken care of in time. Otherwise, the condition may worsen. Here are some easy measures on how to get rid of smelly discharge during pregnancy.
- Keep it clean: Avoid tight, synthetic clothing that does not absorb sweat and dampens the area. Instead, go for cotton panties and loose trousers. You can also change your panties once every few hours.
- Focus on the diet: If the vaginal odor is due to your dietary patterns, then try changing it. For instance, excess intake of sugary stuff or adding pungent ingredients such as garlic in your food may be avoided as they can cause vaginal odor. Increased consumption of vegetables and fruits is good. Have a lot of fluids, especially when exercising.
- Don’t use chemical products: Chemical substances that are used to clean the vaginal area can destroy the good bacteria and make the area susceptible to bacterial/yeast and other infections.
- Stay away from cosmetics: Sometimes, the vaginal smell could be a result of using soaps, scented sprays, and wipes. It is better to avoid these for better odor control during pregnancy.
- Some more: Avoid douchingiXCleaning the inside of the vagina using spray or shower , as it disrupts the pH balance and balance of bacteria in your vagina. Wear panty liners or frequently change your underwear if you’re prone to urine leakage. If these remedies are not helping you, you should talk to a professional.
When To Visit The Doctor?
Usually, vaginal smell due to diet and hormonal changes can be treated at home. But you should contact your doctor in any of the following cases.
- When the odor continues for a long time, and none of the remedial measures is helping.
- When the odor is accompanied by unusual vaginal discharge, it could be a sign of an infection such as pelvic inflammatory disease.
- In case you experience redness, itching, inflammation, pain, or anything else that is troubling you.
Changes in urine composition and hormones can result in peculiar vaginal odor during pregnancy. Although vaginal odor is normal in most cases, strong, unpleasant vaginal odors can be due to bacterial vaginosis or yeast infection. Thus, it is essential to pay attention to vaginal hygiene during pregnancy. Keeping the area dry and clean and wearing loose cotton panties may help reduce the risk of infections. Further, avoid cosmetics and cleaning products that destroy the healthy microbes of the vagina. Remaining hydrated and avoiding excess sugar intake can help reduce the vaginal odors to an extent.
Infographic: Causes And Prevention Of Vaginal Odor During Pregnancy
Mild vaginal discharge and odor are common during pregnancy, but a foul-smelling vaginal odor could indicate an infection and other underlying problems. This infographic will detail the possible causes and tips to prevent vaginal odor while pregnant.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What treatments are available for excessive vaginal odor during pregnancy?
Your doctor may prescribe medications if vaginal odor during pregnancy results from certain infections. Antibiotics such as clindamycin and metronidazole can work for vaginal infections, such as bacterial vaginosis (6).
2. How does vaginal odor during pregnancy impact a woman’s self-esteem and confidence?
Vaginal odor caused by infections such as bacterial vaginosis will likely generate a sense of lower self-esteem in women. Smelly discharge may make them feel socially isolated and embarrassed. They may feel uncomfortable in both their private and work lives (7).
3. Can vaginal odor during pregnancy have any impact on the fetal health?
Yes, vaginal odor due to infections may cause adverse pregnancy outcomes. For example, bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis are associated with preterm births. Some sexually transmitted infections may be passed on to the fetus before or during childbirth (8).
- Mild or strong vaginal odor is common in pregnancy, and it can often be associated with changes in urine and the presence of vaginal discharge.
- Bacterial vaginosis, yeast infection, poor hygiene, and hormonal changes can cause vaginal smell in pregnancy.
- Keeping the vagina dry and clean can prevent strong vaginal odors, and you may seek medical care if there is pain or itching.
Pregnancy can cause changes to your body, including your vagina. Learn why your vagina might be producing odour during this time and what you can do to help.
1. Bacterial Vaginosis; Rush University Medical Center
2. Vaginal Yeast Infections; University of Michigan Health
3. Vaginal Yeast Infections; Healthwise
4. Amniotic Fluid; Cleveland Clinic
5. Vaginitis; American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
6. Treating Vaginitis Naturally During Pregnancy; American Pregnancy Association
7. Annsofie Adolfsson et al.;How Vaginal Infections Impact Women’s Everyday Life
—Women’s Lived Experiences of Bacterial Vaginosis and Recurrent Vulvovaginal Candidiasis; Advances in Sexual Medicine
8. Does vaginitis affect a pregnant woman & her infant? Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
9. Xin Yee Ang et al.;Probiotics Reduce Vaginal Candidiasis in Pregnant Women via Modulating Abundance of Candida and Lactobacillus in Vaginal and Cervicovaginal Regions; NCBI
10. Urinary tract infections; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
11. Xinhong Zhang et al.; Association of gestational diabetes mellitus and abnormal vaginal flora with adverse pregnancy outcomes; NCB