So you have a smelly vagina. 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.
Table of Contents
- Help! My Vagina Smells – 10 Causes for a Smelly Vagina
- 4 Ways to Make Your Vagina Smell Good
Help! My Vagina Smells – 10 Causes for a Smelly Vagina
Whether it’s you who noticed the smell or your partner (yikes!), it’s important to find out the root cause of the problem.
There are many things that can cause you to smell a little funny down there.
1. Bacterial Vaginosis
The most common cause of unpleasant feminine odors is bacterial vaginosis, or BV. Doctors are still unsure of what causes BV, but it occurs when the “bad” bacteria overtakes the “good” bacteria in the vagina.
The most common symptoms of BV include:
- A “fishy” or foul vaginal smell
- Green or gray, watery discharge
- Burning during urination
- Itching in the vaginal area
In many cases, women with BV won’t have any symptoms.
While doctors still don’t know why BV occurs, there are certain things that will put you at greater risk of developing this infection:
- Douching: Douching can upset the vagina’s natural bacterial balance, which can lead 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 bacteria: A lack of lactobacilli bacteria, the good bacteria in your vagina, can put you at greater risk of an 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:
- A history of STIs
- A previous trichomoniasis episode
- Multiple sex partners
- Having unprotected sex
Trichomoniasis can be treated with a large dose of metronidazole, an antibiotic. For best results, both partners need to be treated.
If left untreated, trichomoniasis can cause pregnancy 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.
3. Poor Hygiene
Poor personal hygiene can also cause an unpleasant-smelling vagina. If you aren’t showering regularly or keeping your vaginal area dry, you’re inviting bad smells – and bad bacteria.
But keeping the vagina clean doesn’t mean you have to douche or even wash that area with soap. In fact, soap can throw off the natural pH and bacterial balance of your vagina, and cause irritation. The vagina is self-cleaning. A little water is all you need to stay healthy.
Yeast infections are extremely common in women, and can cause an off-putting scent. Like its name suggests, a yeast infection occurs when there’s an overgrowth of yeast in the vagina.
Along with an unpleasant scent, yeast infections can also cause:
- Thick, cottage-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 any 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, which can lead 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 has shown that strong-smelling foods, like broccoli, fish, chilies, garlic, pepper, blue cheese, onion and cabbage can cause your vag to smell funny.
7. A Forgotten Tampon
Leaving a tampon in for longer than recommended can most certainly cause your vagina to smell. Build-up of old menstrual blood and bacteria can cause an unpleasant odor as well as itching and irritation.
If you suspect a forgotten tampon is the cause of your smelly vag, contact your gynecologist. Only a doctor can safely remove a forgotten tampon, and provide you with treatment for an infection if you have one.
8. Hormone Changes
Hormonal changes can also cause your vagina to smell. The vagina naturally secretes fluid during your cycle, and changes in these secretions can cause weird smells.
Menopause may also be causing weird smells. Once you reach this stage in life, estrogen levels drop, which causes your vaginal tissue to thin and lose some of its acidity.
Women who are going through menopause often experience a strange-smelling water discharge. If the smell bothers you, your doctor can prescribe a topical estrogen cream.
9. Cervical Cancer
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 foul smell
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods and after sex
- Pain during sex or pelvic pain
Treatment for cervical cancer will depend on the stage of the cancer, other health problems you may have, and your own personal preference. Common treatment options include:
- A combination of these treatments
If caught early, a hysterectomy can be performed to treat cervical cancer. A hysterectomy is a complete removal of the uterus, which makes it impossible to get pregnant. But a hysterectomy can cure cervical cancer in its early stages, and prevent it from recurring.
10. Vaginal Cancer
Although rare, vaginal cancer can cause strange smells in the vaginal area. This uncommon cancer occurs in the vagina, specifically the birth canal (or the cells that line the surface of the vagina).
There are several types of cancer that can spread to your vagina, but cancer that actually starts in the vagina is rare.
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 the cancer starts progressing, women may experience the following symptoms:
- Watery discharge
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Pelvic pain
- Painful urination
- Frequent urination
Treatment options for vaginal cancer will depend on how far it’s progressed, and your own personal preferences. But the most common treatments include:
Both cervical and vaginal cancers are uncommon causes of a foul-smelling vagina, but you should still consult with your phyisican to rule out these causes.
4 Ways to Make Your Vagina Smell Good
By now you probably have a good idea of what’s causing your vagina to smell funny. But is there anything you can do about it? Yes – you don’t have to live with that smell forever.
1. Stop Douching
Douching may seem like a perfectly logical way to keep your vagina clean, but in reality, all it does is upset the natural bacterial balance in your vagina.
The vagina is a self-cleaning organ. Interfering with its natural cleaning routine will only cause you more problems in the long run.
2. Wear Cotton Undies and Loose-Fitting Clothing
If your vagina smells, there’s a good chance sweat and bacteria build-up are causing the odor. Making the switch to cotton underwear and wearing only loose-fitting clothing can help eliminate the smell 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.
3. RepHresh Vaginal Gel
The vagina naturally maintains a delicate pH balance, and when that balance is disturbed, it can cause some strange smells.
RepHresh Vaginal Gel eliminates feminine odors by helping restore a healthy pH balance in the vagina. In fact, this gel has been clinically proven to maintain a healthy vaginal pH.
Recommended by gynecologists, this gel is affordable and extremely easy to use thanks to its pre-filled applicators.
View reviews and discounts for RepHresh vaginal gel.
4. 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.