Health & Fitness

Reasons Behind Vaginal Odor and How to Deal With It

Mariam Youssef
7/18/22, 5:00 PM

Many women suffer from unpleasant vaginal odor at certain points in their lives. This unpleasant odor can be extremely embarrassing, especially when you don’t know the reason behind it. Changing your panties and washing this area doesn’t always work. So, what are the reasons behind vaginal odor and how do we deal with it? That’s what we’re going to answer in this article, so keep reading.

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It is important to know that our vaginas are home to billions of bacteria to keep a good balance. Because of this bacteria, the cervical mucus in your vagina always has a smell.

Bacterial Vaginosis

This is one of the most common reasons among women aged from 15 to 44. This condition happens when there is an imbalance in the bacteria in your vagina. You may start noticing a fishy smell along with gray or greenish discharge. Your vagina may also be swollen or itchy. This condition doesn’t get treated on its own; you have to pay a visit to your doctor to prescribe antibiotics. Unfortunately, the recurrence of this condition is common, especially if your husband is the cause of the infection. Therefore, he must maintain his personal hygiene and wear condoms - if you want - to be on the safe side. He may even need to take the same course of antibiotics.

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You could experience this condition if you’re married because it is a sexually-transmitted infection. If you have Trichomoniasis, you’ll notice yellow-green vaginal discharge and an unpleasant smell. A course of antibiotics can usually clear this up.

A Stuck or Forgotten Tampon

You may experience a very strong vaginal odor when you forget to take your tampon out or when it’s stuck. While it is impossible that your tampon is lost inside of you, it may get stuck at the top of your vagina. It is best to let your doctor extract it for you and check if there is an infection. Moreover, make sure you change your tampon every 2-3 hours to keep your vagina clean and odor-free.

Vaginal Thrush

This condition is a type of vaginal yeast infection and it’s very common. It causes itching, burning, and lumpy, white discharge. In this case, the discharge isn’t always smelly. However, if you notice a bad smell, make sure you visit your doctor to rule out any possible underlying problems.


Do you wash the inside of your vagina with water that’s mixed with vinegar, baking soda, or iodine? If your answer is yes, please stop! This method of washing is called douching and it is dangerous because it increases the risk of several health problems. Furthermore, douching removes the beneficial bacteria that your vagina needs to stay balanced. It can lead to the overgrowth of harmful bacteria and the risk of yeast infections, which can cause severe issues, such as infertility.

Hormonal Changes

At different stages of your life, you may notice that your vaginal smell changes too. Throughout your menstrual cycle, you may experience vaginal odor. Other hormonal changes may as well affect your vaginal smell. Moreover, during and pre-menopause, your vaginal smell may differ. If you’re pregnant, you may notice thin or thick discharge; however, it shouldn’t be smelly. If it is, consult your doctor.

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Urinary Issues

If your vagina smells like ammonia, you may be dealing with a urinary problem. One of the most common urinary problems is Urinary Tract Infection and the odor can be really strong and bad when it’s left untreated. It is wise to deal with conditions like these immediately so you don’t experience worse symptoms, such as fever.

Gynecological Cancers

In this condition, vaginal odor and discharge won’t be the first symptoms. Bleeding during sex or regular spotting may be alerting symptoms. You may experience a metallic vaginal odor that’s distinctive from the other smells. If you experience unusual bleeding, consult your doctor right away.

Poor Personal Hygiene

While this is an obvious sign, many people overlook their vaginal hygiene. Not showering or bathing regularly can lead to vaginal inflammation, which can cause an unpleasant vaginal odor. Make sure you wash your vagina thoroughly with water and avoid the excessive use of vaginal cleansers as they may get rid of the beneficial bacteria and cause irritation and further complications.

Finally, you should know that these symptoms may differ from one person to another and you should always consult your doctor, should you start experiencing any of the mentioned problems. This article is merely for reference and you shouldn’t rely on it to treat vaginal problems.

Main Image Credit: @chiaraferragni



Mariam Youssef

Growing up, I've always wanted to become so many things: a fashion designer, painter, singer, actress, and anything that revolves around art. It wasn't until I watched "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" t...

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