• Is My Vaginal Scent Healthy?

December 05, 2019

A woman's body is an ever-changing environment that adjusts to monthly cycles, sexual encounters and age. Embracing our body and all its amazing scents is inherently female and powerful.

The business of everyday living is probably going to result in sweat, body odor and, yes, even different vaginal odors. But what is the difference between typical vaginal smells and one that are more worrisome, or may not be pleasing?

Keep in mind that hormonal changes can also cause an unfamiliar odor, especially in pregnancy and menopause. Women notice an odor throughout our menstrual cycle, and an especially noticeably different odor post sex. That’s because these natural cycles and the presence of semen change the pH balance of within our vaginal flora.

The rule of thumb regarding when to worry or when not to worry comes down to whether that odor is accompanied with abnormal discharge, pain, or the when the odor is abnormally pungent in itself.

Potential Causes of Vaginal Odor 

  • Poor hygiene
  • A retained or forgotten tampon left in place for several days
  • STI (sexually transmitted infection) or bacterial infection
  • Rectovaginal fistula (an extremely rare abnormal opening between the rectum and vagina that allows feces to leak into the vagina)
  • Vaginal or Cervical Cancer

Is It An Infection?

  • Bacterial vaginosis is the most common vaginal infection caused by an overgrowth of normally occurring vaginal bacteria. Bacterial vaginosis typically produces a discharge that is thin and grayish-white in color. It is usually accompanied by a foul, fishy smell.
  • Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection (chlamydia and gonorrhea infections usually don't cause vaginal odors, nor do yeast infections).
  • Generally, if you have vaginal odor without other vaginal symptoms, it's unlikely that your vaginal odor is abnormal.

Should I See My Gynecologist?

It is rare, but there are a few medical diagnoses that begin with an unfamiliar odor. However, if there’s something more serious at play, often other symptoms will appear alongside the smell such as: 

  • Itching or burning
  • Pain
  • Pain during sex
  • Thick discharge
  • Vaginal bleeding unrelated to your period

If you’re not sure about your vaginal odor or you just needs reassurance, there’s no harm in a consultation with your gynecologist.

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