Postpartum vaginal odour: Causes and tips to get rid of it

Postpartum vaginal odour is quite common. Know the causes and ways to get rid of postpartum vaginal odour.

Whether your vaginal health is optimum or not, it is natural to have a mild or strong odour. Factors like menstruation and sex can change the way your vagina smells. Women after child delivery also tend to notice a different vaginal odour. They are often related to the body’s natural healing and recovery process after delivery. Hygiene also plays a role in the way you smell down there. However, persistent or foul-smelling odour may indicate an underlying issue that requires attention. Read on to know the causes of postpartum vaginal odour and ways to get rid of it.

What is postpartum vaginal odour?

Postpartum vaginal odour is an unusual smell from the vagina after giving birth. It is a common concern for many women and is often a part of the normal healing and recovery process after childbirth, says obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Meghana D Sarvaiya. But if the odour is persistent, foul-smelling, or accompanied by other concerning symptoms such as itching, irritation, or unusual discharge, it may indicate an infection.

A woman holding a rose
Postpartum vaginal odour is an unusual smell from the vagina after giving birth. Image courtesy: Freepik

What are the causes of postpartum vaginal odour?

After childbirth, you can expect some vaginal changes. Some factors can also contribute to postpartum vaginal odour.

1. Lochia discharge

After childbirth, women experience lochia, a vaginal discharge containing blood, mucus, and uterine tissue. The smell of lochia is distinct. It may smell sour or stale. This discharge can last for several weeks as the uterus heals and returns to its pre-pregnancy size.

2. Hormonal changes

Postpartum hormonal fluctuations can affect the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina, leading to changes in odour. These hormonal shifts are a normal part of the postpartum period and usually stabilise over time, says the expert.

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3. Wound healing

If there were vaginal tears during childbirth, the healing process may contribute to an odour as the tissues repair. Good hygiene practices and following recommendations from your doctor for wound care are crucial during this time.

4. Infections

Infections such as bacterial vaginosis or a yeast infection, can cause changes in vaginal odour. These infections may be more common in the postpartum period due to hormonal changes.

5. Poor hygiene practices

Inadequate postpartum hygiene practices, such as infrequent bathing or using harsh soaps, can contribute to an unpleasant odour. Maintaining good hygiene is crucial for overall vaginal health.

6. Urine or fecal incontinence

After childbirth, some women may experience temporary issues with bladder or bowel control. Leakage of urine or feces can contribute to an odour.

How long does postpartum vaginal odour last?

The duration of postpartum vaginal odour can vary from woman to woman. Generally, postpartum vaginal odour is most noticeable in the immediate days and weeks following childbirth. While it is normal for postpartum vaginal odour to be more noticeable in the initial weeks after childbirth, any persistently foul-smelling odour or unusual discharge should be brought to the attention of you doctor.

A woman holding a flower
Postpartum care is important. Image courtesy: Freepik

What are the ways to get rid of postpartum vaginal odour?

Managing postpartum vaginal odour involves a combination of good hygiene practices, allowing the body to heal naturally, and seeking medical attention if needed. Here are some ways to help reduce or eliminate postpartum vaginal odour:

1. Maintain good hygiene

Take regular showers to keep the genital area clean. Use a mild, unscented soap and water to cleanse the external genitalia. When washing the genital area, avoid using harsh or scented soaps, as they can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina.

2. Practice proper postpartum care

Follow the postpartum care instructions provided by your doctor. This may include recommendations for wound care if there were vaginal tears during childbirth.

3. Stay hydrated

Drinking adequate amount of water helps maintain overall health. It can contribute to a balanced vaginal environment.

4. Comfortable clothing

Wear breathable cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothing to promote airflow. They can help to prevent excessive moisture in the genital area, says Dr Sarvaiya.

5. Probiotics

Probiotics, whether in supplement form or through probiotic-rich foods, may help promote a healthy balance of bacteria in the vagina. But discuss with your doctor before using any supplements.

6. Healthy diet

Eat a well-balanced diet and focus on foods that are full of nutrients. A healthy diet contributes to overall well-being, including vaginal health.

The goal is to support the body’s natural healing process, practice good hygiene, and seek medical guidance when necessary.