Vaginal odors: How to sniff out if something's wrong down there

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Garlic, bread and fish? This is not a recipe for cooking, but actually a list of strange smells you might get from your private parts. Find out what's healthy and what's not

Just like any other part of your body, your vagina will give off a slight scent depending on how much you sweat, your level of personal hygiene, your hormones, or even your diet.

Although it is not natural for your vaginal odors to smell like flowers, so you shouldn’t feel the pressure to be squeaky clean down there 24/7, there are certain smells from your nether-regions that may indicate an imbalance in your natural flora and could call for a trip to the gynaecologist to get checked out.

So what’s normal and what’s not?

Common vaginal odors

According to the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH), the environment in your vagina is very delicate and contains healthy bacteria and small amounts of candida (or yeast).

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If your man reacts this way when you’re about to “get it on”, there probably is something off with your vaginal odor (or he’s just being an over dramatic, insensitive, jerk)

Your normal vaginal pH level should be anywhere between 3.5 – 4.5, which indicates that there is no overgrowth of any bad bacteria that causes strong vaginal odors, any irritation and even infections.

An imbalance to the vaginal pH can also lead to vaginitis, which is an inflammation of the vagina that causes itching, pain and abnormal discharge.

Here’s a list of the different vaginal odors you may experience and what they could be due to:

1. Fishy

Possible cause: Bacterial Vaginosis (BV).

Although some of us may secretly dream of being mermaids, smelling like Jurong Fishery Port isn’t exactly what we had in mind.

An unpleasant fishy odor from your vagina might also be accompanied by white or grey discharge that is thin and watery, and could become more noticeable after sexual intercourse.

How to treat it: Antibiotics prescribed by a doctor.

 

2. Bleach or chlorine

Possible cause: Transferred smell from use of condoms or semen after sexual intercourse.

As much as you want to keep your lady garden nice and clean, if it starts to smell like the bleach you use to scrub your bathroom tiles or chlorine which is added to swimming pools, then this might cause a bit of alarm.

Even though this weird smell is not necessarily produced naturally by your vagina, Lissa Rankin, MD, a physician and founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute says that it is generally nothing to worry about.

How to treat it: Just wash with warm water. But if this strange smell doesn’t go away after a few days or one week after intercourse, then you should seek medical advice.

 

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That onion or garlic smell might be coming from either your kitchen or your coochie

3. Garlic or onions

Possible cause: Your diet

This vaginal odor might dash your chances of hooking up with a hot vampire, but it’s probably just caused by that extra large plate of garlicky pasta and onion rings you wolfed down for lunch.

Foods that we eat can affect the way we smell and it can even last for up to a few days.

How to treat it: Cut down your intake of strong-smelling foods such as onions, garlic, asparagus, curry, etc.

 

4. Musky

Possible cause: Increased amount of sweat.

After a great work-out in your Zumba class, or a night out clubbing with your girlfriends, or just sweating a lot in the humid tropical weather, you may notice that your vaginal odor is a bit muskier.

This is quite normal due to the increase in moisture released by your sweat glands, and is probably nothing to worry about.

How to treat it: Take a shower after exercising or excessive sweating and change into clean clothes.

 

Go to the next page to find out more about different vaginal odors

5. Sweet

Possible cause: Your diet.

Out of all the vaginal odors on this list, to have a sweet scent is probably something a lot of women (or men) won’t complain about.

If you are what you eat, then having citrus fruits such as pineapple, oranges, and grapefruit can actually sweeten the smell and taste of your vaginal fluids!

How to treat it: If your honey pot is keeping you up at night because your man just can’t get enough of the sweet stuff, then try cutting down on your intake of citrus fruits.

6. Metallic

Possible cause: Your period, or semen after sexual intercourse.

If you just had a monthly visit from Aunt Flo, or you recently got lucky, then this could be the cause of that weird metallic smell from your iron maiden.

This is due to the change in your pH balance and the odor should go away on it’s own soon enough.

How to treat it: Wash with warm water.

 

 

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A yeasty vaginal odor can smell like bread or beer

7. Yeast

Possible cause: Yeast infection.

Even though there is a small amount of yeast naturally present in your vagina, an overgrowth can lead to an uncomfortable infection of your muffin.

You might also notice discharge that is thick and white like cottage-cheese; and also feel itchiness, burning or experience vaginal irritation.

How to treat it: Anti-fungal medications; increase of probiotics in your diet.

 

8. Chemicals or ammonia

Possible cause: Poor hygiene; Bacterial Vaginosis (BV).

Ammonia can be found in urine, so if you are not washing up properly after you tinkle, or if you are not drinking enough water which causes a higher concentration of ammonia in your urine, then there might be a distinct lingering smell of pee.

However a case of BV can also be the cause of that funny pong coming from down there.

How to treat it:  Practice better personal hygiene, drink more water, or if the problem persists then seek medical advice.

 

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Go to a gynaecologist immediately if your vagina smells like rotting meat!

9. Rotten meat

Possible cause: Forgotten tampon; Foreign object stuck inside.

Sometimes we are so busy with work or taking care of the kids that we forget to eat or simply don’t have time to go to the toilet.

If you use tampons then this may be problematic because the forgotten feminine hygiene product can lead to an awful stench from your vagina which may smell like roadkill!

Also, if you’re into kinky sex and use foreign objects to turn up the heat with your partner (or by yourself), always remember to make sure everything is accounted for and has been retrieved after your hot and steamy session.

How to treat it: Make sure there’s nothing lodged up inside of you and go to the doctor for medical advice.

 

10. Nothing

Possible cause: Good hygiene; Inactivity.

If there is absolutely no smell from your vagina, fret not because this does not mean anything is wrong, nor are you a ghost with no detectable scene.

You probably are just a very clean person who showers often, or hardly sweats.

How to treat it: Increase your activity level; Eat sweet fruits.

 

If in doubt, please remember to seek for professional medical advice and treatment from your healthcare provider. If you found this list about vaginal odors helpful and informative, do like and share the article with all your friends!

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