A stinky vag isn’t exactly something you want to talk about with your friends, let alone your doctor. But if something is “off” about your smell, it may be serious.
Let’s find out what’s causing your unpleasant scent and how to get your ladyparts smelling like roses again.
Help! My Vagina Smells – 10 Causes for a Smelly Vag
Whether you noticed the vaginal odor or your partner (yikes!), it’s crucial to find out the root cause of the problem.
Many things can cause you to smell a little funny down there.
The most common cause of the unpleasant vaginal odor is bacterial vaginosis or BV. Doctors are still unsure of what causes bacterial vaginosis, but the most common symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include:
- A “fishy” or abnormal vaginal smell
- Green or gray, watery discharge
- Burning during urination
In many cases, women with bacterial vaginosis won’t have any symptoms.
While your doctor may not be able to tell you how you got BV, they can prescribe products and give you some medically reviewed health information on how to take care of the bacteria levels. Before taking any prescription treatments, it is essential to know the potential causes for BV, so you don’t get it back.
- Douching: Douching can upset the vagina’s natural bacterial balance, leading to an overgrowth of bad bacteria.
- Having multiple sex partners: Doctors don’t know why, but women are more likely to develop BV if they have multiple sex partners.
- Lack of lactobacilli: A lack of lactobacilli, the good bacteria in your vagina, can put you at greater risk of overgrowth and imbalance.
BV can be treated with antibiotics and can be diagnosed through an examination of your vaginal secretions.
Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a parasite. The incubation period for this infection is unknown but is believed to be between five and 28 days.
Men typically have no symptoms when contracting this STI, but women will experience:
- A foul vaginal odor
- Itching in the vaginal area
- Painful urination
Risk factors for this STI include:
- History of STIs
- A previous trichomoniasis episode
- Multiple sex partners
- Having unprotected sex
You can take care of trichomoniasis by taking a large dose of metronidazole, an antibiotic. For best results, both partners need to be treated.
Contact your doctor and make an appointment immediately if you suspect you have a vaginal odor because of trichomoniasis. If left untreated, this STI can cause pregnancy and health complications, such as:
- Premature delivery
- Low birth weight
- Transmission of the infection to the baby during delivery
- Trichomoniasis is also believed to make women more likely to contract HIV.
Poor personal hygiene can also cause an unpleasant vaginal odor. If you aren’t showering regularly or keeping your vaginal area dry, you’re inviting bad smells – and bad bacterial overgrowth on the opening of your vagina. Maintaining the health of your vagina optimal requires showering often, especially if you have your cycle. It isn’t healthy for old blood to be in contact with your vagina for too long. For the health and wellness of your lady parts, change your pads often.
But keeping the health of the vagina optimal doesn’t mean you have to douche or even wash that area with soap or other products. In fact, it has been medically reviewed that products like shower gels can throw off the natural pH levels and bacterial balance of your vagina and cause irritation. The vagina is self-cleaning. A little water is all you need to stay healthy.
If a woman experiences vaginal odor, one of the factors may be a yeast infection. Yeast infections are extremely common in women and can cause a vaginal odor. As the name suggests, this infection occurs when there’s an overgrowth of yeast in the vagina.
Along with an unpleasant scent, yeast infections can also cause:
- Thick, cheese-like discharge
- Itching and pain in the vaginal area.
- Painful urination and sex
Yeast infections are extremely common after taking antibiotics. Antibiotics kill bacteria, both good and bad, which leaves room for yeast to grow without competition. Antifungal medications can treat yeast infections.
A sweaty vagina is a stinky vagina. If you have a habit of wearing tight clothing and underwear, sweat may get trapped in the vaginal area, leading to foul odors.
Sweaty workouts can have the same effect.
You are what you eat! The foods you eat can also impact your smell, not only in the vagina but in the armpits, scalp, and mouth.
Research institutions have published medically reviewed information regarding the health of your whole body and data links to food as the primary factor, with environmental stressors coming in second.
What you eat can either regulate or disbalance your hormone levels, causing health havoc in your entire body. There is also plenty of self-reported data linking temporary unpleasant scent or even recurring vaginal odor to eating strong-smelling foods like:
- Blue cheese
Hormonal changes can also cause vaginal odor. The vagina naturally secretes fluid during your cycle, and changes in these secretions can cause weird smells.
Menopause may also be causing a weird odor. Once you reach this stage in life, estrogen levels drop, which causes your vaginal tissue to thin and lose some of its acidity.
Women in menopause often experience vaginal odor appropriated by a strange-smelling water discharge. If the odor bothers you, your doctor can prescribe products like topical estrogen creams. These products can restore balance and eliminate a vaginal odor in a matter of days.
Cervical cancer forms in the cells of your cervix. In most cases, human papillomavirus (HPV) is the cause of cervical cancer. HPV is a sexually transmitted infection.
The average, healthy woman’s immune system usually prevents HPV from doing harm, but in some women, the virus can lay dormant for years. When this happens, the virus can contribute to the process that causes some cells in the cervix to become cancerous.
Most women experience no symptoms in the early stages of cervical cancer. In more advanced stages of the disease, symptoms can include:
- Watery, bloody discharge that can be heavy and have a vaginal odor
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods and after sex
- Pain during sex or pelvic pain
If you have any of these conditions, your doctor will prescribe a suitable therapy and give you all the information regarding your health. Treatment for cervical cancer will depend on the stage of cancer, other health problems you may have, and your personal preference. Standard treatment options include:
Although rare, vaginal cancer can cause vaginal odor. This uncommon cancer occurs in the vagina, specifically the birth canal (or the cells that line the surface of the vagina).
If caught early, the chances of being cured are much higher. But like with many other cancers, many women experience no symptoms in the early stages.
Once cancer starts progressing, women may experience the following symptoms:
- Watery discharge
- Vaginal odor
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Pelvic pain
- Painful urination
- Frequent urination
Treatment options for vaginal cancer include:
Both cervical and vaginal cancers are causes of vaginal odor, and you should still consult with your physician to rule out these causes.
How to Make Your Vagina Smell Good – 4 Ways
By now, you probably have a good idea of what’s causing your vaginal odor. But is there anything you can do about it? Yes – you don’t have to live with that odor forever.
Douching may seem like a perfectly logical way to keep your vagina clean of any odor, but in reality, all it does is upset the natural bacterial balance in your vagina.
The vagina is a self-cleaning organ. Not using any products for cleaning will help you get rid of the vaginal odor.
Wear Cotton Undies and Loose-Fitting Clothing
If you have a vaginal odor, there’s a good chance sweat, and bacteria build-up are causing the smell. Making the switch to cotton underwear and wearing only loose-fitting clothing can help eliminate the odor and keep your vagina healthy.
Cotton is a breathable fabric that allows for proper airflow while keeping you dry. Loose clothing will also prevent sweat from getting trapped in your panties. This way, you cal quickly cure and prevent vaginal odor without any products or treatments.
RepHresh Vaginal Gel
The vagina naturally maintains a delicate pH balance, and when that balance is disturbed, it can cause a strange odor.
RepHresh Vaginal Gel eliminates feminine odors by helping restore a healthy pH balance in the vagina. This gel has been clinically proven to maintain a healthy vaginal pH.
This gel is recommended by gynecologists and is affordable and extremely easy to use, thanks to its pre-filled applicators.
View pricing and availability for RepHresh vaginal gel.
RepHresh Pro-B Probiotic
A quality probiotic can help eliminate feminine odors and prevent them from coming back in the future. RepHresh’s Pro-B supplement can help you maintain a proper balance of bacteria and yeast to maintain your feminine health.
This feminine supplement is taken once daily and contains strains of lactobacillus, the good bacteria.
View pricing and availability of RepHresh Pro-B Probiotic.
Everyday Ways to Help Eliminate Vaginal Odors
There are simple ways to keep vaginal odors at bay.
- Wear Loose Clothing: Loose clothing and cotton underwear will help eliminate vaginal odors. Tight clothing restricts airflow, and cotton has wicking properties and promotes airflow.
- Change Underwear Twice a Day: If you want to stop bacteria from continuing to grow, you’ll need to change your underwear twice per day.
- Stop Douching: Douching has a bad reputation, and this is because when you use a douche, you’re removing the good bacteria in the vagina. Good bacteria help ward off infection and prevent toxic buildup in the body.
- Lose Weight: If you’re overweight, you’ll find that losing weight can help eliminate smells. Many women who are overweight sweat more than normal and the extra moisture will lead to bacteria growth.
- Maintain Proper Hygiene: Proper hygiene is necessary to keep odors away. Shower every morning and change your clothes. Don’t forget to shower after going to the gym and take a bath, as recommended above, to ensure that you’re killing off the odor-causing bacteria.
- Scented soaps are a big no-no. Shower with unscented soap, and don’t be afraid to rinse the vagina. If you fail to rinse the vagina and labia, you’ll be promoting smells.
We hope this information helped you find the source of the abnormal vaginal smell. If you took the needed measures to eliminate vaginal odor but weeks pass, and you still feel it, make an appointment with your health care professional. They will run some tests to get to the bottom of it and give you more information on the suitable remedies and proper care for your health problem.