Glance down the feminine hygiene aisle of any pharmacy or grocery store and you’ll find numerous products designed to freshen, clean and cover up the natural smell of the female body.

Although it’s well known that the practice of douching – spraying liquid into the vaginal canal in an effort to make it cleaner or to feel fresher – is unhealthy, feminine product manufacturers keep coming up with new ways to exploit women with feminine odor issues. Even in the United States, douching is still a common practice. The U.S. CDC in 2016 reported that nearly 18% of women 15 to 44 had used a douche at least once in the year prior to being interviewed. It seems the line of reasoning is that if something smells, then it must not be clean, and if something isn’t clean, then you should wash it.  And let’s face it, that train of thought is helpful for most things in life – the laundry, your home, maybe even your spouse or partner! Feminine odor is often a sign of bacteria, which we automatically associate with uncleanliness. The inside of your vagina isn’t something that you can, or should, just scrub clean. When it comes to vaginal odor, the existence of bacteria – also known as the vaginal flora – is NOT actually the source of the problem, but a huge part of the solution. So, what can you do instead of douching?

The vagina can be thought of as a sort of battlefield where different types of bacteria, both friendly and unfriendly, constantly fight for territory. Washing or douching away the friendly flora leaves the area vulnerable to an overgrowth of the unfriendly types of bacteria. An overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria can quickly become an infection that causes feminine odor, itching, and dryness – some of the very symptoms traditional douches are intended to relieve. This overgrowth is called bacterial vaginosis (BV), and it’s the cause of virtually any and all vaginal odor problems.

Stopping the vicious cycle of BV and its associated odors once and for all is merely matter of letting nature take its course. Or, you can give nature an assist by restoring the friendly bacteria in the vagina, called lactobacilli. These are our heros in this fight against feminine odor. Keep them thriving and healthy and, with patience, foul odor will be a thing of the past. Here’s how:

1. Don't douche, or do anything else that hurts the bacteria and tissue of the vagina. 

For some women, this can be extremely difficult. Often, intervention is actually more problematic than letting the vagina balance itself naturally. Steer clear of deodorants, sprays, foams or gels that attempt to cover the smell of the vagina with another smell.

2. Use the right personal lubricant.

Get a lube without the 7 most hazardous ingredients in personal lubricants. These ingredients have been shown to damage the delicate tissues of the vagina and disturb the balance of vaginal flora. Check the ingredients label on your personal lubricant before buying. The list should be short, recognizable, and pronounceable. Our recommendation? Good Clean Love Almost Naked Personal Lubricant.

3. Avoid using regular soaps and cleansers near the vulva or inside of the vagina. 

The pH of regular soap has a tendency to disturb the vaginal flora. Wash carefully around the area with regular body washes and soaps, or try a pH-balanced cleanser like Balance Moisturizing Wash.

4. Keep your immune system healthy. 

There are numerous lifestyle factors that can upset the delicate balance of flora in the vagina such as medications like antibiotics, dietary changes, cigarette smoking, and high stress. Keeping your whole body’s immune system in good order will help your body naturally fight off unfriendly bacteria that cause vaginal odor.

5. Restore the natural flora of your vagina.

Lactobacilli keep the unfriendly bacteria that cause feminine odor in check. Probiotics and prebiotics can boost lactobacilli so that they have a better chance of growing and crowding out the unfriendly bacteria that cause feminine odor. Restore Moisturizing Vaginal Gel is pH- and salt balanced with 1% of lactic acid, which Bio-Matches the optimal levels for vaginal lactobacilli, supporting its growth and restoring its natural balance. Women have also reported improvement in chronic BV symptoms after introducing an oral probiotic. Invest in a high-quality probiotic for feminine odor with robust Lactobacillus strains.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but sometimes, less is more. Remember that when the flora is healthy, the vagina is an automatic, self-cleaning organ. Too much intervention is often the source of the problem rather than the solution!