Feminine odor…It happens to the best of us. And it’s completely normal! Ladies, it’s time to stop the shame and embarrassment around vaginal issues and stand up to get the help we need.
For new mommas, you may be experiencing postpartum vaginal odor. I mean, you just went through the mecca of hormonal changes (and still are), you experienced an intense trauma to your body. Our bodies are nothing short of incredible.
But you may now be noticing an odor from down there. When is that odor normal? When you should seek help from your doctor? Is there anything you can purchase to help from home? We’ll discuss all this and more and I'll give you the exact recipe I used to cure this problem for myself.
Postpartum Feminine Odor: What Causes it?
I’m just going to come right out and say it, weird smells are a normal part of the postpartum journey. And not just a new scent from your feminine area, but you may also have other new body scents that are less than desirable (hello, extra sweating, and BO). Again, totally normal.
During the postpartum period, your vaginal scent will shift due to a number of factors like bleeding, moisture, and changes to your pH balance.
Immediately after giving birth, your uterus is going through a process of cleaning itself out. The cleanup process involves the secretion of a bloody discharge called lochia. You may experience this lochia bleeding for anywhere between two and six weeks following delivery.
Lochia has its own unique smell. Most people describe it as an earthy or metallic-y smell. So, generally not super offensive. However, if you’re experiencing a strong odor, that can be a sign of an infection.
If you have stopped bleeding postpartum and you’re still experiencing a strong, unpleasant odor from down below, that’s a sign to head to your doctor to make sure you don’t have an infection.
Hormonally, giving birth is a real doozy. With your hormones on a roller coaster, you’re susceptible to a lot, including a condition known as hormonal vaginitis. According to Harvard Health Publishing, Hormonal vaginitis is an infection that’s caused by fluctuations in female hormone levels, specifically, a decrease in estrogren.
Hormonal vaginitis doesn’t just affect new moms, though, it can also be caused during and after menopause as well. For postmenopausal women, they may experience atrophic vaginitis, which is described as thinning, dryness, and irritation in and around the vagina due to decreased levels of estrogen.
Signs of atrophic vaginitis include:
- Genital itching
- Burning with urination
- Urgency with urination
- Frequent urination
- Recurrent urinary tract infections
- Urinary incontinence
- Light bleeding after intercourse
- Discomfort with intercourse
Normal Postpartum Smell
After you deliver your baby, your estrogen levels will decrease drastically and will remain low for a period of time. The time period for you will be dependent on many factors like whether or not you’re breastfeeding and for how long.
If you’re breastfeeding, your body requires estrogen to be suppressed to produce milk. Estrogen is responsible for the health and balance of your vulva and vaginal tissue. So, if you’re breastfeeding, there’s a good chance that you’ll experience some changes to your vagina that could include dryness and a change in odor.
Even if you're not breastfeeding, you're still dealing with a complete hormone upheaval that will inevitably affect your vaginal homeostasis.
My Lochia Smells Fishy…What’s Up With That?
Here’s the deal, postpartum vaginal odor can be normal, except when it’s not. If you take a shower, put on fresh clothes, and are still smelling a strong, fishy smell from your vagina, it may be a sign of an infection in your uterus, vagina, or perineum due to any tears you experienced in the birthing process.
In this case, you likely need prescription-strength relief. If you want to handle this problem discreetly and without heading back to your doctor, you can try telemedicine services that focus on vaginal health.
My Personal Recommendation for Prescription-Strength Relief
First and foremost, you should always consult a doctor before getting prescription-strength relief. There are plenty of online “telemedicine” companies that prescribe this, which works great for women since you don't have to feel embarrassed at the doctors office. I wrote a detailed review on a particular telemedicine company that covers all the prescription meds they offer.
I have personally used their telemedicine and can tell you that their service is amazing. You get real prescriptions, prescribed by real US doctors, delivered right to your door in discreet packaging.
This will save you so much time and frustration going to the doctor’s office and pharmacy. As a new momma with a little one in tow, I know how hard it can be to get out the door and sit through a long wait at your doctor’s office and then at the pharmacy. There are some amazing telehealth services that are revolutionizing the way we get medication and treat our embarrassing and annoying issues.
How to Get Rid of Smelly Discharge After Birth That's Not Associated With an Infection
I get it, you’re exhausted, your body hurts, and on top of that, you have weird smells that are making you feel anything but normal. The good news is that there are things you can do to get rid of the smelly discharge after birth. I know because I’ve been there.
Not all post-partum odor is the same. What worked for me may not be the right solution for you, so here are some general guidelines and recommendations for products you can purchase to help cure your odor. Keep in mind that these are just recommendations of products that I have used or extensively researched, this should not take place of your doctor’s professional advice.
Curing The Cause of Vaginal Odor
If you’re dealing with fishy odor, burning during urination, and a gray, white, or green discharge, you may be dealing with BV (bacterial vaginosis). For this, I recommend trying boric acid suppositories. It's best to check out our complete list so you can learn two things:
- If boric acid suppositories are right for you
- Which one is the best fit for you
vagina smelling fresh after birth
Preventing The Return of Vaginal Odor
Once you have the root cause of your odor eradicated or under control, I highly recommend using some specified products that will prevent it from returning as the likelihood of a reoccurrence is high when your hormones are still fluctuating. Some women think that antibiotics will totally get rid of the smell. However, this treatment of BV is only 60% effective, with a high occurrence rate of 30-40%.
Taking a vaginal probiotic will help maintain your microbiome, striking a balance between the good and bad bacteria in your vagina. Look for products that are made from natural ingredients and are very affordable.
Additional Items That Could Help According to Experts
In addition to the boric acid suppositories and probiotic, I also consulted my doctor with the following items to help get rid of my postpartum odor. Keep in mind that I did NOT have an infection, just some wacky hormones. Here's what many experts in the vaginal health space recommend.
Three Steps I Took From My Doctor's Orders:
- I grabbed some high-quality, post-partum underwear. The high-waisted post-partum panties are hands down the best choice. A good pair of underwear will help keep things fresh and dry to ward off any additional unwanted smells. Trust me, these are worth every penny!
- I got some amazing herbal postpartum pads that are infused with lavender and mint oils. These natural feminine pads are just what you need to balance, heal, and cleanse your vagina during your postpartum time. I found these to be so much more comforting than traditional pads and they smell so fresh and clean. It’s like gifting your vagina a little spa treatment.
- Lastly, I bought a gentle vaginal cleanser that I discovered from a doctor consultation after giving birth to my second baby and I’ve been using this cleanser ever since. It leaves my feminine area feeling fresh, clean, and it definitely helps to neutralize any odor, postpartum, or not.
- Registered dietitians and health experts have mentioned that the proper nutrition can also help.
- Many experts in the field say that staying physically fit and active can also help prevent odor.
Give Yourself a Break!
I know how frustrating it can be during this delicate time to not feel like yourself and then add to the fact that you don’t smell like yourself, and you may start to spiral. Take a deep breath, arm yourself with the right feminine care products, and take care of yourself. Yes, you have your hands full, but you still deserve to look, feel, and smell your best.
Things are anything but normal down there in the postpartum period, but with the right tools on hand, you can quell the smell and get back to feeling (and smelling) like yourself again.
Stay well, momma!
Feel Fresh Again
Good luck in your journey and be sure to leave a comment below so we can all help each other out! Remember to ALWAYS consult your doctor before you buy or use any product to help get rid of your vaginal odor.