This article focuses on the unpleasant odor of the vagina. It explains whether an unpleasant smell is natural, why does vagina smell, and provides more information about the symptoms. Moreover, the article explains how to treat and prevent the unpleasant odor of the vagina in order to restore its natural scent.

Many women and girls experience unpleasant vaginal scent but don’t feel comfortable consulting someone about it. People believe a vagina isn’t supposed to have any scent at all, but it does. Why does my vagina smell bad, then? That’s exactly the main focus of this post. Read on to learn more about this subject and see what you can do about the unpleasant odor in the vagina.

What is vaginal odor?

The term vaginal odor refers to any type of odor that comes from the vagina. While sometimes the vagina has no odor, it usually has and the odor tends to be mild. Not every vagina has the same smell. People tend to use the term vaginal order to refer to unpleasant smells primarily.

But, why does my vaginal smell you wonder? Although a strong vaginal odor can be uncomfortable for an affected girl or woman, it isn’t a sign of concern if no other symptoms are present. That being said, vaginal odor can result from different causes, which will be discussed below.

The reasons vagina smells are discussed in greater detail below in this post.

Is vaginal odor natural?

Girls and women often ask “Why does my vaginal smell” and think something must be wrong, but the odor is natural. All vaginas produce scents naturally, even healthy ones. The smell of a woman’s vagina can provide more information about her general health, lifestyle, and activities.

More precisely, how the scent of a vagina is influenced by factors from her everyday life. Even the menstrual cycle can affect the vagina’s scent, Cleveland Clinic explains [1]. However, while vaginal scent is natural, strong and unpleasant smell is not. An unpleasant odor could signify the presence of a health problem, which is why it’s important to schedule an appointment and see a gynecologist.

Why do vaginas smell?

Normal vaginal smell is often described as fermented, sour, or tangy. A healthy vagina has a mild and musky scent. This kind of scent isn’t bad or unpleasant.

You may wonder why does my vagina smell at all and the answer is in its environment and pH balance. The vaginal area contains good bacteria [2] and sweat glands. These bacteria are an important part of a woman’s microbiome. Both the bacteria and sweat glands may produce scents that. As mentioned above, this is natural and the scent isn’t unpleasant. A woman who sweats more heavily may produce a stronger scent than a woman who doesn’t.

The balance of pH also plays a role in the normal vaginal smell. A paper from the journal Diagnostics [3] explains that neutral pH is equal to 7, but the healthy or normal vaginal pH is moderately acidic, ranging from 3.8 to 5.0. The value of vaginal pH is a major factor in the overall health of the genital area. When the pH value is normal, odor-causing bacteria are inhibited. As a result, the vagina has a natural or healthy scent. Imbalances in pH value lead to an unpleasant, strong odor.

vaginas smell

How does vaginal odor happen?

There are multiple answers to why does my vagina smell. The causes of the unpleasant odor are numerous, including the following:

  • Poor hygiene – using harsh products, douching, or not bathing/showering regularly can lead to bad vagina smells due to buildup of bacteria, inflammation, irritation, or impaired pH value. Gentle vulvar cleansing is desirable and it is an important aspect of female vulvogenital health [4]. The absence of hygiene can jeopardize genital health.

  • Hormone changes – vaginal scent is susceptible to hormonal changes during pregnancy, menstrual cycle, and menopause. For example, secretions from the preovulatory and ovulatory stages of the menstrual cycle [5] have a less unpleasant odor compared to secretions from menstrual and early and late luteal phases. In pregnancy, vaginitis is common and may contribute to bad smell. In menopause, bad smell occurs due to a vaginal dryness and yeast infections. Vaginal dryness can contribute to irritation and inflammation.

  • Bacterial vaginosis (BV) – a condition that results from overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina, especially high levels of Gardnerella vaginalis. BV causes pain, discomfort, unusual vaginal discharge, and unpleasant vagina smells. The estimated prevalence of BV [6] in the United States among females ages 14-49 years of age is 29.2% or 21.2 million.
  • Diet choices – foods you eat can influence the smell of your vagina. The bad odor could result from the consumption of foods such as garlic.
  • Vaginitis – inflammation of the vagina, characterized by pain, itching, discharge, and bad smell. Causes of vaginitis are bacteria, viruses, yeast, and even clothes choices.
  • Sweating – it causes a bad smell because it mixes with bacteria.

Other causes of unpleasant odor, that isn’t normal vaginal smell, are sexually transmitted infections such as trichomoniasis, tampon that is forgotten or stuck, cervical cancer, and rectovaginal fistula.

What are the signs and symptoms of vaginal odor?

Signs and symptoms of vaginal odor are self-explanatory; they primarily revolve around unpleasant odor. This bad smell may be temporary and go away quickly on its own, but sometimes it may persist.

In addition to the absence of a normal vaginal smell, women may experience symptoms such as vaginal discharge, irritation, burning, and itching. These symptoms indicate the presence of a specific health problem that may contribute to the development of a bad smell.

How is abnormal vaginal odor diagnosed?

If you’re wondering why does my vagina smell, make sure to see a doctor who will perform a physical exam and order necessary tests to diagnose the problem. Keep in mind that abnormal and very unpleasant vaginal smell is not a specific health condition, but it can be a symptom or occur due to some health issue.

A doctor may perform a vaginal exam and order diagnostic tests such as urinalysis. The main purpose of a urine test is to check for sexually transmitted infection (STI) or pregnancy. Additionally, urine test also checks for the presence of a urinary tract infection.
In order to determine why the vagina smells bad, a doctor may take a sample of vaginal fluid. This is done to analyze and detect the potential presence of trichomoniasis or bacteria vaginosis.

For the process of determining the cause of an unpleasant odor, a doctor may check vaginal pH and take medical history or discuss symptoms with a patient. That’s why it’s crucial for women with unpleasant vaginal odor to talk freely and openly about the symptoms they’re experiencing.

If a healthcare professional suspects that the causes of the unpleasant odor are serious problems such as cancer or rectovaginal fistula, they may order further tests. To confirm whether a patient has cancer, a doctor performs a Pap test while imaging exams such as CT, ultrasound, or MRI can be utilized to detect rectovaginal fistula.

How is vaginal odor treated?

You’ve been experiencing unpleasant smells and wondering what helps with vaginal odor? Vaginal odor is treated in several ways, including:

  • Medications – a doctor may prescribe medications if vaginal odor results from STI or bacterial vaginosis. Abstaining from sexual intercourse is necessary too. This is yet another reason to see a doctor, you can’t get antibiotics without a prescription.
  • Regular showers – help balance the pH value of the vaginal area and support healthy bacteria, wash away traces of sweat, and relieve bad smell immediately.
  • Well-balanced diet – what helps with vaginal odor is to modify your diet because it can affect the smell of the vagina. Common causes of bad scent are onion and garlic, asparagus, red meat, and curry. Try to limit your intake of these foods and enrich your diet with pineapple, cinnamon, watermelon, peppermint, and cranberries.

  • Avoid washing inside of the vagina – even though it may seem like a logical way to improve the vaginal scent, doing so can disturb the balance of bacteria and pH in the vagina and thereby worsen the problem.
  • Consumption of probiotics such as yogurt [7] – helps maintain pH balance and support recovery from bacterial vaginosis.
  • Try supplements – natural products can address certain aspects of vaginal health that lead to unpleasant odors. Before buying products make sure to check Zenofem reviews and consult your doctor.

How can you prevent vaginal odor?

An unpleasant vaginal odor is a preventable problem. By taking care of genital health you will reduce the risk of wondering why does my vagina smell. These tips will help you out:

  • Focus on good hygiene – clean the vulva regularly with mild, unscented soap and warm water. After a workout, make sure to bathe or take a shower and put on a clean and dry outfit. Wet and warm environments create a fertile ground for the buildup of bacteria.
  • Wear breathable underwear – thongs and tight underwear (and clothes in general) don’t allow the skin to breathe, which may contribute to spreading bacteria and causing bad smell. Choose cotton underwear because it is breathable and won’t hold in moisture.
  • Stay hydrated – bad vagina smells may occur due to dehydration. Drink plenty of fluid, mainly water, throughout the day. Doing so can eliminate the bad smell because it promotes urination. This matters because waste material is more concentrated in urine when you don’t drink enough water. This can lead to a bad smell.
  • Avoid douching – when looking for suggestions as to what helps with vaginal odor, it’s not uncommon to come across tips to douche. However, douching causes pH imbalance and thereby makes a woman more susceptible to infection.
  • Practice safe sex – during intercourse make sure your sexual partner wears a condom to lower the risk of STIs and infections that cause an imbalance of pH value. Use products that improve sexual function and lubrication, which are benefits observed in Zenofem reviews.
  • Give natural supplements a try – nowadays many dietary supplements are formulated to help women manage vaginal dryness, which occurs after menopause. A good example is Zenofem. When hormone levels reduce, women become more prone to yeast infections, vaginal dryness, and unpleasant odor. These products could help take care of this problem and thereby prevent vaginal odor. Check Zenofem reviews before purchasing to learn more about experiences that other women had.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my vagina smell even after a shower?

Shower generally eliminates the bad smell of the vagina. If the unpleasant scent remains even after the shower, it could mean you have vaginitis or bacterial vaginosis.

Make sure to see a doctor in order to determine the specific cause and treat it adequately. The doctor will inform us about what helps with vaginal odor in this situation.

Why are my pants always wet and smelly?

Your pants are always wet and smell due to several reasons including imbalances of hormones, sweating, and birth control. If other symptoms such as vaginal discharge are present, it could be a sign of an infection.

What does BV (Bacterial vaginosis) smell like?

Bacterial vaginosis is characterized by a strong, unpleasant, fishy smell. The smell becomes worse after sexual intercourse. If you’re experiencing such an odor and wondering why does my vagina smell that way, see a doctor and you will eliminate it effectively.


The unpleasant odor [8] of the vagina occurs due to several causes, but they are treatable and it is possible to overcome this problem. The article aimed to answer a common question “why does my vagina smell” and provide useful instructions to restore natural scent.

Dietary supplements could play a major role in improving the scent of the vagina as they can take care of problems that cause odor[9]. But before you start using them, make sure to find testimonials such as Zenofem reviews and see what to expect.