Why there is an unpleasant smell from the vagina and what can be done about it

Why does vaginal discharge smell?

Normally, vaginal discharge has a slight sour smell. This is what beneficial lactobacilli make it.

During life, the menstrual cycle, and even days, it can become a little different. This happens when the ratio of bacteria changes, the state of local immunity, or the mucosa is damaged. For example, after sex or sports, during ovulation and after menstruation, during pregnancy and menopause.

Most often, this smell is not felt by anyone except the woman herself. Of course, it is individual, but inherent in each, so there is no point in being ashamed of it, and even more so to refresh and deodorize the vagina.

Why can there be an unpleasant smell from the vagina

Sometimes the smell becomes sharp and unpleasant – for example, like spoiled fish. This may indicate poor hygiene or some kind of disease.

Poor hygiene

The smell gets worse if you don’t wash often enough. For example, if you do not go to the shower after a particularly intense workout or forget about washing on a hike or on the road. The good news is that fixing this is easy: just take a bath.

Products with a strong odor

Some spices, such as garlic, or some strong-smelling foods, can change the smell of sweat and vaginal discharge. It goes away on its own after a while.

Forgotten foreign object

Even if it seems impossible, forgotten objects in the vagina are a common problem and nothing to be ashamed of. It can be a tampon, a condom, a piece of toilet paper, or even some object after sexual games . If you can’t pull it out yourself, you need to immediately go to the gynecologist. Because the same tampon can cause deadly toxic shock .

Bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis , or gardnerellosis, is not a sexually transmitted infection. It occurs when the balance of one’s own micro-organisms changes , for example due to frequent partner changes or washing too hard. It has the same smell of fish. In addition, there may be profuse white, gray or green discharge, itching and burning. With these symptoms, you should immediately consult a gynecologist.


Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the protozoan Trichomonas vaginalis . Symptoms usually develop within a month of unprotected intercourse . Women develop thick yellow-green frothy discharge with an unpleasant fishy odor, pain, burning and itching. With all this, you should immediately contact a gynecologist or dermatovenereologist.

Rectovaginal fistula

Normally, the vagina does not communicate with the rectum. But sometimes a passage appears between them – for example, due to ruptures during childbirth or after surgery on the pelvic organs. Through it, the contents of the intestine flows out of the vagina. This causes a very bad smell, pain and irritation.

Usually fistulas do not go away on their own, surgery is needed. Therefore, it is worth contacting a gynecologist.


Cancer of the cervix or vagina can also cause bad breath. It usually accompanies spotting, for example, after sex. These tumors are treatable. And the sooner they are detected, the easier it will be and the less complications it will cause. If there are such signs, you can not postpone a visit to the gynecologist.

What to do if you don’t like the smell from your vagina

If the unpleasant smell from the vagina does not disappear in a few days or there is itching and burning, you need to contact a gynecologist or dermatovenereologist. If the symptoms are due to an infection and not treated in time, it will spread to the uterus and fallopian tubes and can cause infertility. Vaginal infection in pregnant women can lead to intrauterine infection of the fetus. This can lead to low birth weight and preterm birth.

If the smell is due to a more serious fistula or tumor, then delay in treatment may cost health, so you definitely can’t pull. The good news is that these conditions are much less common than infections and forgotten tampons.

What exactly can not be done if you do not like the smell from the vagina

There are methods that will not only not help, but even exacerbate the problem and make the smell more intense.


The vagina cleanses itself: the cells are constantly sloughed off and renewed. Therefore, it does not need to be washed at all. When a woman douches, especially adding soap, some medicines or aromatic additives to the water, the normal microbiocenosis is disturbed. Due to the fact that beneficial lactobacilli are washed out, pathogenic microbes grow more actively in their place – the infection intensifies, the smell becomes worse.

Wash with antibacterial soap

Since the vagina cleans itself, only the outer part, the vulva, needs to be washed. Better with water and a mild, unscented cleanser so as not to provoke irritation. If you get carried away with soap, especially antibacterial, the microbial composition of the genitals will change.

wash too often

To maintain hygiene, it is enough to wash the genitals once a day. If you have to do this more often, such as after swimming, you need to be careful not to overdo it with soap. Sometimes it is enough to rinse the vulva with plain water.

Use scented products to mask the smell

Deodorants and powders for intimate areas are unlikely to mask the smell, they simply add to the existing perfume composition, which will only make it more noticeable. In addition, any flavored products can cause irritation, which means that the protection of the vulva and vagina will be more vulnerable. Therefore, there will be more bacteria.

Use panty liners

Panty liners keep secretions from drying out and maintain a moist breeding ground for bacteria. In addition, pads can irritate the vulva. Therefore, often the discharge only becomes larger.

What to do so that the unpleasant smell from the vagina no longer bothers

In order for an unpleasant smell to appear as rarely as possible, you need to observe hygiene and wear the right underwear.

  • Choose underwear made from breathable materials, such as cotton. Lycra, spandex, and similar synthetic materials are poorly breathable, and therefore provide a better environment for bacteria. If there is lace, it can additionally rub the vulva, abrasions will appear and, again, there will be more microbes.
  • Do not wear wet underwear for a long time, so as not to rub and not help bacteria multiply in a humid environment.
  • Shower as soon as possible after swimming in a chlorinated pool , river, lake, or sea.

Read also 🧐

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.