Something Smells Funny Down There: 10 Possible Reasons Why

Yes, we are well aware that this is not a topic you want to discuss, but it's for your own good! Vaginal odor can be an indicator of a very wide variety of problems, so satisfy your curiosity and take a look at the most common causes of your little problem. Knowledge is power, after all!

woman in white underwear

Normal sweating: A woman's vagina does have it's own natural odor, so don't rush to conclusions unless the smell is really bad. You will probably notice this smell more distinctly during your menstrual cycle. If it's making you self-conscious, grab a washcloth and some soap, and get to washing! Avoid products like vaginal deodorant though, as they are known to actually increase irritation and cause other symptoms. (via Mayo Clinic)

Poor hygiene: Unfortunately, a quick wash doesn't always cut it to keep our lady parts squeaky clean. Proper, thorough hygiene is particularly relevant when we are talking about down there, so listen up! Make sure you are taking a little extra time, and wash all of your nooks and crannies carefully every day with a mild, fragerence-free soap. (via New Health Guide)

Forgotten tampon: We all occasionally forget about our tampons. It's not like we're sitting there staring at it, right? However, when a tampon gets lodged into the upper part of the vagina for an extended period of time, a strong odor is a common indicator. Be careful, though: bad odor is not the only problem associated with forgotten tampons! Toxic Shock Syndrome is a much more serious consequence. (via Latest Medical News)


Bacterial vaginosis: In a woman's vagina, a balance exists between the more present "good" bacteria, and a meager amount of "bad" bacteria. When this balance shifts, and the "bad" bacteria become more prevalent, a distinct, unpleasant odor occurs. Causes for BV can include new sexual partners, IUD's, or condoms. The good news is, BV is not uncommon and it is very treatable! Just head to your doctor for a medication to treat the infection. (via Office on Women's Health)

Yeast Infections: This nasty little problem is caused by an overabundance of yeast in the vagina and the vulva. While yeast infections can be both smelly and painful, fortunately they are very treatable as well! Nearly 75% of women contract a yeast infection during their lifetime, and almost 50% of women get one more than once. They are commonly caused by stress factors like lack of sleep, poor eating habits, or illness, so here's another reason to maintain a stress-free lifestyle! (via Office on Women's Health)

Trichomoniasis: Trichomoniasis is a common STD that is carried by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. It is estimated that 70% of the people who contract this infection never even exhibit symptoms, but you may find yourself in the minority on this one. Luckily, it is considered the most curable STD, so just have your doctor prescribe a single-dose antibiotic, and that smell will disappear! (via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

woman taking medicine

Other sexually transmitted diseases: While trichomoniasis is the most common STD that can cause vaginal odor, other diseases like chlamydia, gonorrhea and genital herpes can also be associated with that lingering stench. These STDs are easy to treat but if they are left unattended, you could experience some serious health complications. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), for instance, which can be caused by a collaboration of several different STDs. If you believe you are at risk, schedule an appointment with your doctor. (via New Health Guide)

Rectovaginal fistula: A rectovaginal fistula is an abnormal connection between your rectum and your vagina, which allows the contents of your bowels to leak through to your vagina, causing a strong, overwhelming odor. While this problem can be both physically painful and embarrassing to discuss, it is imperative that you bring it to the attention of your doctor. Often, the abnormal connection must be surgically repaired. (via Mayo Clinic)

Cervical cancer: Cervical cancer is the 2nd most common gynecological cancer in the United States, so knowing the symptoms is incredibly important. While vaginal odor or discharge can be caused by many other issues, it is also one of the first symptoms of cervical cancer. If you are concerned about the smell, head to the doctor right away. (via Healthline)

Vaginal cancer: This rare cancer, which only affects 2,000 women in the United States every year, develops in the tissue of the vagina. Unfortuantely, early vaginal cancer is hard to detect since, like most cancers, symptoms do not present themselves until the cancer has matured. Check out this list of symptoms and consult your doctor if you believe you may be at risk. (via Mayo Clinic)


Whether it turns out that the smell is caused by a simple hygiene issue, or is the result of a more serious condition, it is important to be proactive and address your odor issue as soon as possible! For more information on possible causes, check out these sources:

Mayo ClinicHealthlineNew Health GuideOffice on Women's HealthCenters for Disease Control and PreventionLatest Medical News