Illustration of s(expert) Chris Hart
E. del Rosso

My vagina always smells weird

What does it mean if your vagina always smells? It's making me feel self-conscious.

Well, first of all, forget all those deodorant ads. Women are not supposed to be odourless.

Smell is normal

Every vagina has a faint musky or slightly sour smell, perhaps slightly stronger, perhaps less, and it will vary a little during different parts of your menstrual cycle.

So get familiar with the smell of yours, so that you have a good idea of what’s normal for you. After a long day, you’ll also smell sweat. You might notice a slight odour from unnoticed urine leakage. Or a metallic scent right after your period or unprotected sex.

Watch your hygiene

Your vaginal odour will be affected by dehydration, strongly flavoured foods, menopause, and medications such as antibiotics, antihistamines, herbal remedies and essential oils, birth control pills, and vaginal creams. You might notice an ammonia-like smell early in pregnancy.

So if you’re concerned about your odour, but have no other symptoms, try drinking more water and avoiding smelly foods. Think also about how you wash – you might simply be using too much soap. Don’t laugh – soap disrupts the normal bacteria of the vagina, which allows other yeasts and bacteria to grow. Don’t be tempted to douche (put liquids into the vagina): no essential oils, no soap, no Listerine. Your vagina is self-cleaning.

What can cause smell? 

You might also be sweating a lot, or wearing tight pants. Avoid using panty liners too often, change out of your skinny jeans, go commando for a while and maybe trim your pubic hair. Think about your weight, because sweat in skin folds can cause odour. Just showering and changing clothes should do the trick for urine smells.

A change in the smell that signals something’s wrong generally comes with other symptoms, like itching, swelling, discharge, or pain while urinating. So an intense fishy smell, especially with a white or grey discharge, can be a sign of a bacterial infection. A yeasty or bread scent, together with a thick white discharge and itchiness can suggest a yeast infection. One of the symptoms of cervical cancer is a foul-smelling blood stained discharge.

If your vagina suddenly takes on an intense rotten smell, it could be a sign of a forgotten tampon, which happens way more often than you’d think. If you can’t remove it yourself, quickly see your gynaecologist or nearest sexual health clinic to have it removed. They’ve definitely dealt with a forgotten tampon before, so don’t be shy about making an appointment.


Do you have questions about your vaginal health? Head to our discussion board, where our moderators can help you out.

Did you learn something new?

Comments

Hey Joice, during exercise sex, it is normal for the genitals to get sweaty and this may contribute to the unusual vaginal odour. If you notice a strong vaginal odour after sex that is more than can be attributed to sweaty genitals, it's possible you could have a Bacterial infection. The infection causes a thin, grey discharge with a fishy odour that is more pungent when in contact with semen. Your health provider can help diagnose this and prescribe the right treatment. Check out this article for more information;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/our-bodies/female-body/vaginal-discharge-and-odour-top-facts

Hey Love, vaginal odour, or smell, is normal. Every vagina has its own, individual scent, and you shouldn't try to change or disguise it. Changes in odour can be a sign for something that's not right, especially when the odour is a accompanied with a change in ones normal discharge. Change in discharge may include amount, color and texture. Also when these changes include pain during urinating and itchiness it is important that one seeks medical attention. Have a look at the following article for more information;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/our-bodies/female-body/vaginal-discharge-and-odour-top-facts

I had sex and I started to bleed. I want for pregnancy test and it was negative, I also went for some infection test which turned out negative. Am not having any pain or any abnormalities as a result of this bleeding only that the inside of my vagina has foul smell of which I told the doctor. Do you have an idea of what the problem might be?
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