15 Unexpected Reasons You Have Vaginal Odor

Because sometimes, it really doesn’t smell like roses.

15 Reasons You Have Vaginal Odor getty

Let’s talk about a rather taboo topic today: vaginal odor. Whether we want to admit it or not, there will be times when you won’t smell fresh down there. This will be true, even if you are totally healthy, a virgin, or anything else.

If you’re currently dealing with a funky smell, it’s totally normal to wonder "why does my vagina smell?" why it’s happening. Vaginal smells can be caused from a really insane variety of things. If you’re catching a whiff of something foul, these 15 vaginal odor causes may be the culprit.


RELATED: This Is What Your Vagina Is Supposed To Smell Like

1. You have bacterial vaginosis.

No, this is not an STD. The Mayo Clinic notes that bacterial vaginosis is a common issue that women of every type face. It’s known as an overgrowth of bacteria in your vagina and is an infection that can be caused from a wide range of factors. Thankfully, a trip to the gyno will typically clear this up.


2. There’s a leftover tampon up in there.

Aunt Flo doesn’t usually cause vaginal odors, but if you leave a tampon up in there for a while, it’s possible it could start to reek — and rot. If it smells like rotting blood, reach up there and find out if you left your tampon or diva cup in too long.

3. You’re in real need of better hygiene.




Though we don’t like to admit it, one of the more embarrassing causes of vaginal odor is a lack of hygiene. If you’re not bathing frequently, you can cure your funk with a quick shower or bath.

4. It’s your natural scent.

If you have always had a kind of strong smell down there, and it doesn’t necessarily smell fishy or foul, it could just be your natural musk. That’s not a bad thing, per se. It just means your body chemistry is a bit more pheromonal than most.

5. You’re allergic to condoms.

Though you should always practice safe sex, you might want to take a look at the condoms you use. Certain chemicals in latex condoms have a tendency of triggering allergic reactions that throw off bacteria balances, which, in turn, can cause vaginal odor. Try switching to sheepskin condoms to see if things improve.

6. You have trichomoniasis.



Sorry to tell you, but if your vagina has a foul odor and it’s accompanied by odd discharge, there is a chance that you have contracted an STD. Trichomoniasis is one of the most common STDs linked to a funky odor downstairs.

7. A tear between the wall of your vagina and rectum happened.

Prepare to be horrified. If you somehow end up with a rip between your vagina and rectum, it’s possible that your vaginal odor is caused by feces leaking into it. The Mayo Clinic notes that the medical term for this is a rectovaginal fistula, and that it can happen due to a childbirth injury, Crohn’s Disease, or even radiation treatment.

8. In rare cases, this can actually be a symptom of cervical or vaginal cancer.

A foul smell down there is one of the leading symptoms of vaginal cancers. This is particularly common after the age of 35; however, you should always screen yourself for cancer whenever you can.

RELATED: 8 Things Your Vagina DESPERATELY Wants You To Know


9. Your hormones are changing up.

Hormonal changes can, in certain situations, cause your privates to smell a bit funky or ripe. Thankfully, this isn’t actually bad for your health.

10. You’re sweaty.

A lot of women who go hard at the gym might notice that they start to smell a little pungent afterward. It shouldn’t surprise you that this could be one of the simplest vaginal odor causes. Your genital region is prone to sweating, and if you are really sweating up a storm, it can and will get musky.


11. You need to drop the douche.

No, not the one you’re dating — the actual douching routine you’re doing in hopes of “freshening up” down there. The Office of Women’s Health noted that douching can throw off your natural pH balance and cause foul odors.

12. That hardcore bathing routine really isn’t keeping you fresh.

Just like skipping the shower can make you stink a bit, so can excessive washing. Even just taking too many baths can cause your natural balance to get thrown off kilter. So, try to strike an even balance between too much and too little bathing.

13. The medicines you’re taking aren’t jiving with your smell.

Some medications, such as certain forms of birth control or antibiotics, can alter the way you smell down there. That being said, keeping yourself healthy is important. If you notice a foul odor happening during your treatment, ask your doctor if you can switch to another medication, or just wait until the medicine routine you’re on is completed.

14. You ate something that’s known for causing body odor issues.



Anecdotal evidence suggests that eating spicy food, asparagus, onions, or other smell-prone foods could temporarily cause a little extra vaginal odor. Heck, even WebMD has a list of foods that can cause vaginal funk. So, before you panic, check what you ate.

15. Or, your diet sucks.

Believe it or not, one of the reasons you could be experiencing vaginal odor is because your diet is lacking in certain elements. Probiotics found in yogurt and kombucha, for example, have been known to help reduce vaginal odor significantly.

RELATED: 10 Foods That Are Surprisingly Great For Your Vaginal Health

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a Jack-of-all-trades writer based out of Red Bank, New Jersey. When she's not writing, she's drinking red wine and chilling with some cool cats. You can follow her @bluntandwitty on Twitter.