Your body possesses a self-cleaning mechanism. Normally, your vaginal discharge is used to clean away bacteria, skin cells or other organisms from your body. This natural process occurs without you having to do anything, so there is no need to douche or do anything else. Sometimes, you may notice that your discharge does not seem right.
Sweet-smelling discharge can be disconcerting at first. While this is not necessarily a sign of anything bad, it may worry you if your discharge normally smells differently. Most likely, the discharge is not a sign of anything dangerous or a serious illness. To find out why sweet-smelling discharge happens, read on.
Is Something Wrong?
While it may not be normal for your body, sweet-smelling discharge is probably not a major concern. Your vaginal discharge naturally changes throughout the month. It can be thick, thin, watery, clear or white. Infections can even cause it to turn yellow-ish or green-ish in color. Some people naturally have a scent that is more sweet or fruity than other people. As long as your discharge does not suddenly change in a drastic way, it probably is not a problem. There are sometimes signs that you should worry though. If you experience vaginal changes like irregular bleeding, itching or pain, there may be a problem.
What Causes Sweet-Smelling Discharge?
In a healthy vagina, there is a careful pH balance that keeps everything healthy. Your vagina has an ecosystem of bacteria that is normally in a careful balance. While lactobacilli, yeast and bacteria are normally in balance, there are times when your pH level becomes off and one type of bacteria or fungus becomes over-abundant. When this happens, your discharge could smell sweet or like yogurt.
1. Hormonal Changes
Your hormones constantly change throughout the month and throughout your lifetime. When you are aroused, your pheromones go into overdrive. These pheromones can cause a musky or sweet scent. Your body is basically trying to seem more attractive to a mate. Other hormonal changes caused by pregnancy or immediately after giving birth can also cause sweet-smelling discharge.
If the sudden change in scent is disconcerting, there are a few ways that you can reduce the sweet smell. Start by trying to simplify your cleaning routine. Never douche and avoid using feminine wipes or sprays. Perfumes of any sort can hurt the pH level in your vagina. If you have to clean, use water and mild soap on only the exterior of your genitalia.
If your hormones keep fluctuating from sour to sweet throughout the month, it may be due to your hormones. Using hormonal birth control may be able to help control these hormonal fluctuations. If the smell has been consistent for several weeks, you may want to take a pregnancy test. The sudden change in your hormones could be due to a pregnancy. You can also try watching what you eat because some citrus fruits can make you have a sweeter scent. If all else fails, try waiting it out. The sweeter scent may be due to hormonal changes during your cycle, so it may go away on its own.
2. High Blood Sugar Levels
High blood sugar levels are one of the most common causes of sweet-smelling discharge. If your blood sugar levels are high, it causes sugar and yeast growth in your body. Yeast loves to feed on sugar, so a diet high in sugar and carbohydrates can end up feeding the yeast. This can cause a yeast infection if left unchecked. Normal blood sugar levels are at 70 to 110 before you eat and 140 or less two hours after you eat. If your blood sugar levels are outside of this range all the time, go to your doctor.
3. What You Ate
Citrus foods are known for changing the scent of your vaginal fluids. Some of these fruits include oranges, tangerines, grapefruits and pineapple. You can try reducing or removing these fruits from your diet to change your vaginal scent.
How Can You Prevent the Scent?
There are several different ways to prevent your vaginal discharge from smelling sweet. Never, ever use douches because this messes with your body’s natural pH. Wear lightweight clothes and underwear so that your body has airflow going across it. If you workout, make sure to change out of the sweaty clothes when you are done. You should also do your best to keep your blood sugar levels stable.
Home Remedies for Sweet-Smelling Discharge
Tea Tree Oil: Tea tree oil is naturally able to fight bacteria and fungi. Add three drops of tea tree oil to one cup of water when you wash your genital region.
Garlic: Garlic also has anti-bacterial properties. Try eating bacteria in your meals each day to help reduce yeast and bacteria in your vagina. You can also try chewing on a clove with a cup of water.
Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar can help to change your vaginal odor. You can drink one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water to drink. You can also add two cups of apple cider vinegar to your bath water before you soak.
Yogurt: Yogurt is known for promoting good bacteria in your body and helping to rid your body of bad bacteria. You can eat yogurt every day to help. Another option is to put plain (it has to be plain because other types contain too much sugar) on a tampon and insert it into your body for several hours.
Baking Soda: Baking soda can help reduce an acidic pH level. Add ½ cup of baking soda to your bath water to help balance your pH levels and remove your vaginal odor.
When Should I Be Worried?
While sweet-smelling discharge is not a cause for concern, there are some vaginal odors that you may need to worry about. If you experience any of the following vaginal odors, go to your doctor to get checked out.
Decayed Meat: If it smells like a dying animal or decayed meat, you may have left a tampon inside. This is a problem because it could cause toxic shock syndrome. Remove the tampon immediately and watch for symptoms like a fever. If you have symptoms of toxic shock syndrome, go to your doctor immediately.
Sour Scents: A sour smell could be caused by vaginitis and trichomoniasis, so go to your doctor for treatment.
Fishy Smells: A fishy scent happens when bad bacteria become abundant. This can cause bacterial vaginosis. Other symptoms include thicker discharge, white or gray discharge and itchiness.
Yeasty or Bread-Like Scents: A yeast-like odor indicates a yeast infection and can also cause cottage cheese-like discharge. There are over-the-counter treatments, and your doctor can also provide other treatments.