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Vaginal Smell

Vaginal smell


Every female has a particular vaginal smell and that is natural, therefore a vagina having a distinct smell is not a problem. Even if there is distinct shift in the order, it is not a sign of infection as the change in the smell may be due to the change going through a woman’s body when she undergoes a menstrual cycle. A healthy vagina always emits a specific odor, however whether a vagina’s smell is natural or not is entirely upon an individual’s judgment.  In many cases, the women detect the change in the odor when there is no notable change noticed by their partners. But there is however, the case when the odor shift is quite strong and gives an unpleasant smell ‘fishy’ odor. If the smell becomes more concentrated it is the sign that indicates serious vaginal infection. If it is left untreated the condition may cause emotional stress and physiological problems.

What are the risk factors of developing vaginal smell?

In many cases women tend to think that the distinct vaginal odor is due to poor personal hygiene and therefore continue wash the genital area excessively, however this is known to be more problematic. Of course by having poor hygiene sense, there is always a risk of contracting vaginal odor. But many times women noticing change in odor began to try to ‘clean’ their genitals, when they show try to restore the acidity and the vaginal flora naturally. Excessive antibiotic intake is not the solution and it harms the immune system as well.

What are the causes of vaginal smell?

There are many causes of changing of vaginal odor and only if it turns from distinct to bad fishy smell, is it the case of vaginal smelling. One of the many causes of vaginal smell is –

  • Sexually transmitted disease – If you have been infected by a sexually transmitted infection like gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis can lead to a smelly vagina.
  • Vaginal bacteria – Another cause of smell is due to bacterial vaginosis which is one of the most common conditions of bad vaginal odor. When there is a growth of the bacteria that are usually in the genital area, it leads to bad odor. This may also include grayish vaginal discharge, pain during intercourse, vaginal itching and odor and may be a burning sensation while urinating.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) – This type of infection occurs when the sexually transmitted bacteria travels from the vagina into the upper genital area, in some serious cases damaging the reproductive system. There are many symptoms that the bad vaginal odor is due to pelvic inflammatory disease, like pain in the lower abdomen, pain during urinating, fever, fatigue, vomiting, heavy vaginal discharge, irregular menstrual bleeding etc.
  • Yeast infection – This is very common condition among woman; these are caused by imbalance in the level of growth between yeast and bacteria in the genitals. There might be redness and swelling in the area and white discharge from vagina.
  • Bad hygiene – Women, who do not take care of preventing the vaginal odor, may obviously experience bad smell which can be fatal.
  • Cancer – In case of vaginal cancer or the cervical cancer, the genital area emits a distinct bad smell.
  • Tampons – If the tampon is forgotten after insertion and in some cases even a piece of condom left behind can be a reason for bad vaginal smell. It is very critical, especially if it’s a tampon as it may cause toxic shock syndrome.


If you are concerned about bad vaginal smell, it is necessary to see the doctor to determine if it’s a cause of a serious underlying condition. Especially if you have an irritation or discharge, the doctor will give his diagnosis after going through a pelvic examination to determine the reason.


The vaginal flora consists of copious amounts of microaerophilic bacteria. Among them the ones called lactobacilli which are responsible for protecting the vaginal area from infected bacteria. These are the microorganisms that are in charge of the acidity odor of the genitals, when the pH in it increases, it disrupts the balance between the flora and acidity of the vagina.  Therefore for treating the vaginal bad odor, one must consume food stuffs and maintain a diet of foods like fenugreek, garlic, apple cider and yogurt etc., too keep the balance.