5 Different Vaginal Odors And What They Mean

What these different odors mean for your vagina

Every vagina has a distinct smell and most times, this is completely normal. The vagina consists of millions of bacteria, both good and bad. The combination of these different types of bacteria are unique to every woman and accounts for the smell of each woman’s vagina. Sometimes, you might notice a particularly strong odor wafting from your vagina. Unusual odors could mean anything from a bacterial imbalance to an STI. If you’re wondering what’s causing your vagina to smell weird, here are five possible reasons.

1. If Your Vagina Smells Like Fish

A fishy smell usually indicates bacterial vaginosis


A perfect balance of good and bad bacteria is crucial to keeping your vagina healthy. Sometimes, due to certain factors, the bad bacteria overtakes the good kind. If your vaginal microbiome has been disrupted, you might develop a condition called bacterial vaginosis. The most telltale symptom of bacterial vaginosis is a strong fishy smell coming from the vagina. This is a very common infection that affects women between the ages of 13 and 44 and is usually completely harmless. Unlike what many people believe, bacterial vaginosis is not an STI and isn’t contagious. If you suspect you have this infection, visit your doctor for medication that will balance the pH value of your vagina.

2. If Your Vagina Smells Like Beer

 A beer-like smell could mean an yeast infection


Yeast infections usually have a faint odor, but their most common symptom is a thick, white discharge that resembles cottage cheese. A yeast infection is also usually accompanied by red, inflamed skin on the vagina and a burning sensation when you pee. Women with diabetes are most prone to developing yeast infections since they secrete more glucose. Yeast thrives on sugar, so these women might experience yeast infections fairly often. Visit your doctor to confirm that you have a yeast infection. These clear up very easily with OTC ointments and are rarely ever serious.

3. If Your Vagina Smells Musky

Musky smells come from trapped sweat


If your vagina smells musky, then it’s probably sweat that has been trapped in there for too long. If you work out regularly or live in a humid climate, you might notice a musky smell from your vagina very often. This is further exacerbated when you wear synthetic underwear that traps in sweat. If you sweat a lot, try to wear cotton underwear because it lets your skin breathe and helps sweat evaporate. The musky smell from your vagina will go away right after you shower and clean yourself properly.

4. If Your Vagina Smells Rotten

A forgotten tampon could make your vagina smell rotten


A rotten smell coming from your vagina usually means you’ve left a tampon in for far too long. It isn’t uncommon for women to leave their tampons in for days, forgetting to remove it. When you do this, bacteria grows and multiplies on your tampon, giving out a foul stench. To remove an old tampon, lie back and try to fish it out with clean fingers. If you can’t reach it, stand with one foot propped on your toilet and try again. If you still can’t find it, it’s time to visit the gynecologist. A gynecologist will be able to remove it with the help of a speculum and treat any bacterial infection it might have caused.

5. If Your Vagina Smells Metallic


Blood has a very strong metallic scent and might account for the smell coming from your vagina. If you’re on your period, your vagina is going to smell different. This is completely normal and it should go away once your period ends. But if you want to get rid of the smell immediately, wash it with a little vinegar diluted in water. Never use scented soaps or douches on your vagina because they can upset its pH level. An imbalanced pH level immediately makes you a prime candidate for infections. Since infections can also make your vagina smell strange, it defeats the purpose of using scented douches in the first place.