Hello! I notice you answer some questions on your page, and I have one. I’m a little over a year postpartum. My period returns a couple of weeks ago. But ever since my child was born last year my vagina has smelled different. I think it smells bad. My partner says it doesn’t. My OB says all tests are normal and my vaginal ph is normal. Is this normal for my vagina to smell different post partum? Is there anything I can use to clean it out? I’ve done lots of research, but to no avail.
Hello! The vagina makes many changes after birth. Some of the most reported changes are dryness or soreness, the vagina might feel a little wider, or sex after birth may feel slightly different. Most do not report that their vaginas smell differently, however, your perception although not common can have a reasonable cause. You mentioned that you are a little over a year postpartum and your period returned just a couple of weeks ago. From this statement, I can assume that you were or still are nursing your little one. A mother who provides their child nutrition in this way will undoubtedly experience physical significant changes. To maintain your ability to lactate your body makes less estrogen. Having lower estrogen levels causes thinning, dryness, and inflammation of the vaginal walls. Typically, this occurs mostly after menopause, but can and usually develops while lactating too. While these changes usually revert naturally when lactation ceases, the vaginal ecosystem also changes during this time, and many of the normal protective vaginal bacteria do not survive. This allows other bacteria to grow more easily leading to vaginal discharge and odor. You mentioned that your OB says all test are normal including your vagina pH, however slight shifts, although not creating significant infection can still cause a mild odor. Since you’ve been cleared of significant vaginal infection, perhaps one might also consider urinary leakage or a urinary tract infection as other possible etiology. Many are symptom free for both and often times the only notable observation is an odor of unknown origin. Both urinary leakage and urinary tract infection can be very common in the first year for a postpartum lactating mother. Your keen personal observations have certainly led you to knowing something was different. However, when infection has been ruled out it is advised that you allow your body to naturally make the necessary adjustments. The vagina is a self-healing and self-cleaning system. Trust that it will self-correct! No need to clean it out. Consider being checked for a urinary tract infection, seeing a pelvic floor specialist and beginning kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor.
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