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Smelly Vaginal Odor: Causes, Symptoms, Cures & Prevention

A smelly vagina can cause a lot of discomfort and embarrassment for a woman. Sometimes, the foul feminine smell can be so overpowering that people around her are able to smell it. Foul vaginal odor may limit sexual activity for a woman as she feels uncomfortable and a loss of confidence around her partner. While a healthy vagina has a more bearable salty odor, a fishy genital odor could indicate infection or inflammation.

Causes of Vaginal Odor

There are several causes of vaginal odor, namely:

  • Poor hygiene is one of the major causes for a smelly vagina. Keep the vaginal area clean by washing with a mild soap. Never use harsh soaps or feminine wash that contain scents, colours, dyes and other chemicals that can cause irritation to the vagina.
  • Wearing of tight pants or undies causing vaginal sweating. Excess moisture from the sweat can encourage bacterial growth or increase vaginal odor.
  • Douching can wash away the good micro-organisms and bacteria that live naturally in the vagina flora. When the good bacteria are being washed off, the bad ones start to overgrow, thus causing an unpleasant smell. Harsh commercial douching can also cause bacterial vaginosis that results in a fishy odor and a white discharge.
  • The presence of a foreign object in the vagina like a forgotten tampon left inside your vagina can also provoke vaginal odor. If you think there is a foreign object in your vagina, do visit your doctor so you can have it properly removed.
  • A vaginal infection could be another cause for a smelly vagina. When a woman suffers from a vaginal infections such as bacterial vaginosis or vaginal yeast infection, she might experience itching around her vulva, clitoris and labia regions, accompanied with a thick, smelly vaginal discharge. Bacterial vaginosis will cause the vaginal to smell fishy.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) may occur when bacteria spread from the vagina into the cervix and pelvic area. This usually results in a heavy and thick vaginal discharge that has an unpleasant smell. If left untreated, PID can cause infertility and reproductive damage. It is essential to seek advice from your gynaecologist immediately.
  • Having unprotected sex can cause vaginal odor because semen causes the pH levels in the vagina to rise, encouraging bad bacteria to grow. Unprotected sexual activity also increase the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as gnorrhoea and Chlamydia which can cause genital sores and vaginal discharge with a foul smell. STDs can be very serious as it can re-infect a partner or be passed from a mother to an unborn child.


While vaginal discharge and odor are predominant symptoms of infections such as bacterial vaginosis and yeast infection, there are other symptoms to look out for too. Symptoms like vaginal itching and swelling often accompany genital odor. A smelly vagina could also be a sign of poor personal hygiene and/or poor health, possibly triggered by high sugar intake in the diet that increases the amount of yeast in the vagina.

Vaginal Odor Cures (Medical & Natural)

Treating vaginal odor is not as complicated as it seems. If you are experiencing an awkward situation of a smelly vagina, try out the following natural and medical treatment methods.

  • Medical Treatments

The most commonly prescribed antibiotics for vaginal infections are Metronidazole, which is an oral pill taken twice a day for a course of five to seven days. It is also available as a vaginal gel. Another medicine is Clindamycin, which is used intravaginally as a cream for a week. There are also other types of intravaginally applied anti-fungal agents available for infections that can help to cure vaginal odors.

  • Natural Treatments

There are several vitamins that one can take to supplement the diet to keep healthy, such as Vitamin A, C, D and E and B complex.

femanolTry Femanol, one of the popular herbal remedies taken orally to help get rid of vaginal odor. It contains many antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral herbs and vitamins (such as deodorized garlic, Beta glucans, neem bark extract, vitamin B, biotin, zinc and selenium) that helps eliminate vaginal odor by destroying the odor-causing bacteria, making Femanol a potent natural supplement.


  • Maintain good personal hygiene by washing your vagina daily with warm water and unscented soap. Do not douche. Also avoid using scented soaps or body wash since they can actually irritate your vagina and can worsen the existing smell.
  • Watch what you eat. Cut down on sugary foods and alcohol that can increase the amount of yeast in your vagina. Drink more water and eat more fruits plus vegetables that contain natural antioxidants qualities (such as prunes, blueberries, oranges, banana, spinach and beets) can help keep the vagina flushed of “bad” bacteria and get rid of vaginal odor.
  • Do not leave pads and tampons on/in for more than a day. In fact, it is more advisable to change pads and tampons at least twice a day to maintain good vaginal hygiene.
  • Avoid wearing nylon underwear or tight pants that inhibit ventilation to the genital area. Constricting clothes block the flow of air to the vaginal region and can trap moisture that could cause or increase vaginal odor. Replace those figure hugging clothes with cotton panties and loose fitting clothes to improve better air circulation.
  • Eat more plain yogurt as it can help to replenish the good bacteria, Lactobacilli that helps prevent and treat existing bacterial infection in your vagina that may be causing for your vaginal to smell.