Ladies, hear us out. Your normal vaginal odor is not offensive.
For decades we’ve been operating under the idea that somehow our monthly cycles cause us to emit an odor, and it simply isn’t true.
Every part of your body has a scent, and your vagina is no exception. However, unless you have an infection (which we’ll talk about later) your lady bits are just fine.
It’s definitely confusing then, that the feminine products aisle is packed with scented products, odor-masking creams and washes, and even products like douches that claim to cleanse your vagina and reduce odor.
These products are not only unneeded, they can be dangerous, and end up leaving you with an unpleasant vaginal odor.
Let’s have the conversation about vaginal odor, what causes it, and whether scented pads and tampons aren’t a good idea.
What Causes Vaginal Odor?
Normally, you don’t have “vaginal odor” in the sense that there’s an off-putting smell emanating from your nether regions. While every woman’s vagina has some scent, it’s not unpleasant, and it doesn’t permeate your clothing and surround you like a fog. So relax.
Your vagina is also clean. In fact, it is self-cleaning. It cleans and disposes of unnecessary fluid and waste monthly. It does this automatically and doesn’t need any assistance.
Inside your vagina, and living on your vulva (the areas surrounding the outside of your vagina), there is a tiny microbiome of healthy bacteria that keeps bad bacteria away, protects you from infection, and helps clean house.
Occasionally, that microbiome, which helps keep the pH level of your vagina stabilized, becomes unbalanced. When this happens, you can experience an overgrowth of bacteria.
If the pH level of your vagina has become unbalanced and you do get an infection, you might notice a different odor. This odor, however, will be accompanied by a host of other symptoms, like irritation, itchiness, and unusual discharge.
What Causes Imbalances with Vaginal pH?
You might find this surprising, but some of the very methods marketed to women to help “mask” vaginal odor can be responsible for giving us an imbalance in vaginal pH.
When it comes to products that interfere with your vaginal pH, douches are the top offender. Douches are liquids that are inserted into the vagina to “clean” it.
Douches include soaps, surfactants, and chemicals that can irritate your most delicate and sensitive areas, strip your skin of natural moisture, and most importantly, wash away healthy levels of bacteria from your vagina’s microbiome.
Every time you use a douche, you’re basically self-sabotaging.
The most important thing to remember is that they are completely unneeded. Douches don’t cleanse your vagina, they disturb its pH balance and can leave you vulnerable to infection.
Anything Else You Should Avoid?
Yes. In addition to douches, there are a few other ways your vaginal pH can go off kilter.
Tight clothing, or sweaty clothing. We’ve all been guilty of it from time to time, but wearing your gym clothes for too long creates a bacterial breeding ground in your undies. If you can’t shower immediately after the gym, stash some pH balancing cleansing wipes in your bag.
Change out of your clothes as soon as you’re able to prevent overgrowth of bacteria.
Medications. It’s something every woman deals with; needing an antibiotic when you’re sick, but winding up with a yeast infection as a side effect. Antibiotics work to kill bacteria, but they often work a little too good, killing off populations of healthy bacteria in your vaginal microbiome.
What to do? Be proactive by taking a probiotic while on your medication (as long as your doctor approves) and take care down there with pH balancing products that soothe any irritation you might develop.
What Can You Do to Restore Vaginal pH Balance?
When you’re dealing with an imbalance, the only solution is to take steps to get the balance back. You can do this relatively easily by using products that contain pH balancing ingredients.
Rael offers holistic, pH balancing products that help restore balance to your vaginal microbiome, soothe irritation, and eliminate odors instead of mask them. From our restorative washes to our soothing mists, we’ve got you covered when (and where) it counts.
Why Scented Pads and Tampons Are a Bad Idea
Unless you’ve got an imbalance, you won’t have an odor that needs masking or “correcting,” which is why scented pads and tampons are completely unnecessary. Scented period care items contain chemicals that could irritate your most sensitive areas.
Here’s what you might find inside of scented pads and tampons.
- Dioxins and furans. These chemicals are carcinogens and linked to reproductive health issues and hormone disruption. These chemicals aren’t actually added to your products, they exist as a result of the bleaching process that gives pads and tampons their electric white color.
- Pesticides. Typically found in cotton pads and tampons that haven’t been grown organically, residue from pesticides are carcinogens.
Undisclosed fragrances. The problem with fragrance in the U.S. is that it is considered proprietary information. This means a manufacturer doesn’t have to disclose what makes up their signature scent.
This means you won’t know exactly what chemical ingredients are included in pads and tampons. Undisclosed fragrance could harm your body, interfere with your hormones, and cause a serious amount of irritation.
What’s worse? The chemicals in scented pads and tampons can alter the pH balance of your vagina, causing (you guessed it) an “off” odor. The very products you bought to “fight off” vaginal odor can end up making you smell a little funky.
Trust that your body does plenty of housekeeping every month. Unless you’re experiencing a pH balance issue, you’ve got no reason to use scented pads and tampons.
Why Are Scented Pads and Tampons Available?
Your period doesn’t cause you to have an odor, but years of marketing influence can lead you to believe that there just might be a reason to use a scented period care product. Out of caution, you end up buying them “just in case.”
The reality is, you simply do not need them. Ever. Your monthly cycle is an empowering event that helps you stay healthy and can even allow you to get pregnant when and if you’d like to. Your period is powerful, and we think it’s time to change the narrative.
For starters, you don’t need scented period care. You need gentle, holistic period care products that support your body without harming it.
What to Use Instead of Scented Pads and Tampons
The best products to use for period care don’t contain extra perfumes, harmful chemicals, or anything that could harm your body. Holistic period care contains only what is needed to help manage your flow, keep you comfortable, and protect you against leaks.
Rael’s organic cotton reusable pads are made from the softest, organically grown cotton and don’t contain any fragrance, dyes, or chemicals. Just five simple, super absorbent layers of comfort, so you don’t have to worry about anything in your pads interfering with your body’s ability to cleanse itself and work properly.
If you haven’t yet jumped on the reusable period product train, Rael offers plenty of other holistic, chemical-free, unscented products to keep you comfortable and guarded against leaks throughout your entire cycle.
Unscented tampons. At Rael, we’d never add fragrance to a period care product. We know the science, and we know our bodies. That’s why the only ingredients you’ll find in our tampons is 100% pure organic cotton that is responsibly grown and sourced.
Our tampons keep you protected from leaks and imbalances in your vaginal pH levels.
- Unscented pads. If you’re used to pads that are heavily scented and bulky, get ready to experience true, holistic comfort. Our pads are crafted with 100% organic cotton, so you never need to worry that what lays against your skin will leave you feeling dry, itchy, irritated, or unbalanced.
Embrace your monthly cycle with products that embrace your body and keep you balanced. No harsh chemicals or fragrances, ever.
The Bottom Line
You have enough on your plate; you don’t need to worry about feminine odor. Unless you’re using products that can interfere with your vaginal pH (like scented pads, tampons, or douches, you can trust your body is working (and smelling) exactly as it should.
Skip the heavily perfumed pads and tampons and opt for pure, chemical-free period protection from Rael. We’ll never include anything in a product that could harm your body, irritate your skin, or disrupt your vaginal pH balance.
When it comes to period care you can depend on, think holistic and gentle. Think Rael.