Causes of Vaginal Odor

Why does vaginal odor appear?

If a female body functions well, any woman may notice vaginal discharge (during menstruations or every day). Vaginal discharge may be both physiological and pathological and a woman should distinguish between them.



Criteria for healthy discharge:

  • Colorless (sometimes whitish);
  • There is nobad vaginal odor;
  • A woman does not experience subjective sensations such as itching, pain or burning.


The first warning sign is when the discharge changes its color and abad odorappears around the intimate area. In this case, a woman should visit a gynecologist immediately to determine a diagnosis timely and start treatment.

Why does bad odor appear around the intimate areas?

Bad odor is almost always a sign of some pathology, even if there are no other symptoms. However, usually a woman complains about itching in the genital area, burning and pain.

The maincauses of vaginal odor:

  1. Vaginal dysbiosis. It is the disruption of the ratio between useful and conditionally pathogenic bacteria that leads to inflammations in the reproductive system. The inflammation may spread from the vagina to the uterus, appendages and ovaries.
  2. Yeast vaginitis. The disease is caused by the fungus Candida. The predisposing factor of this pathology is vaginal dysbacteriosis. It is characterized by symptoms of inflammation and specific discharge.
  3. Gardnerellosis. The causative agent is Gardnerella which develops in the body when normal flora microorganisms diminish.
  4. Vaginitis (various etiology). This condition may be caused by different causative agents or by mechanical irritation, sometimes the cause of the disease is an allergic reaction of the body. Nevertheless, the symptoms are always the same, but the treatment is chosen depending on the etiology.
  5. Inflammations of any other parts of the reproductive system (except the vagina). Pathologic processes in the uterus, appendages and ovaries as well as in the urinary system may spread to the vagina and cause the symptoms specific of the disease.

In addition to direct causes ofbad vaginal odor and discharge, there are some predisposing factors which increase the risk of the disorder:

  • Hormonal imbalance (physiological and pathological);
  • Immunodeficiencies (primary and secondary, including HIV);
  • Body modifications (puberty, menopause, pregnancy);
  • Chronic and acute inflammations in any body system (including, urogenital);
  • Promiscuous sexual life;
  • Sexually transmitted diseases;
  • Improper personal hygiene (or excessive hygiene);
  • Physical and psychological tensions (especially chronic).

Characteristics of vaginal odors

Fishy smelling vaginal odor

This odor is the sign of dysbacteriosis. This condition occurs when the organisms of conditionally pathogenic flora increase and begin dominate useful bacteria in the body. The disease is also accompanied by subjective sensations such as itching and burning and there is a danger of developing a concomitant pathology. Afishy smelling vaginal odor may indicate the presence of Gardnerella in the body, a microorganism causing inflammation which is difficult to get rid of.

Onion smelling

In the majority of cases, this odor indicates the propagation of fungal flora in the vagina. The odor becomes stronger after a sexual intercourse. This condition is even more evident, if a woman has any hormonal conditions.

Sour odor

This odor is also a sign of a fungal infection, namely candidiasis (or milk thrush). This pathology is recognized not by the odor but by specific cheese-like discharge. The disease is usually followed by bacterial vaginosis.

Rotten smell

This is typical of gardnerellosis, when rotten smell is combined with fishy odor. The disease has all the typical signs of vaginitis, namely itching, burning, edema and redness in the genitals. A  long-term antibacterial treatment is required together with simultaneous maintenance therapy.

Herring smell

Vaginal dysbacteriosis may manifest as a herring odor form the reproductive system. At the same time, no other symptoms may appear. However, delay in treatment may lead to inflammation which will make the therapy more difficult and have a general negative influence on a woman’s well-being.




Strong vaginal odor of urine

Predisposing factors of this odor is frequent emotional stress and obesity. The odor appears owning to unnoticeable and minuscule urine secretion because of slight urinary incontinence (it occurs due to abdominal wall tension). Unpleasant odor is the only symptom in this condition.

Odor of sperm

If such smell appears disregarding the sexual activity of a woman, it means that there are some changes and disturbances in the vaginal microflora. This is not a pathological condition but in the presence of some predisposing factors it may evolve into a disease. In this case, it will be reasonable to adjust the balance of the flora with special topical medications.

Odor of acetone

Most often the odor of acetone (not only from the vagina but from the mouth, urine etc.) indicated diabetes. It is a very serious disease requiring life-long substitution therapy. However, acetone odor does not necessarily mean any disorders in the endocrine system. The odor may occur if a person does not drink enough water, consumes too much foods rich in protein or had urogenital system disorders.

After period

The menstrual cycle is a physiological norm, nevertheless it leads to some modifications in a female body. During her period a woman experiences emotional stress, her immune protection is dampened and the hormonal level changes. If during the period a female personal hygiene is improper, then pathogenic bacteria began to propagate and it causes inflammation. Owning to all this, a bad vaginal odor may appear after the period or during it.

After a childbirth

It is a normal physiological phenomenon to have some blood discharge after a childbirth. Eventually, the discharge become colorless as it was before pregnancy. Sometimes, the discharge do not return to the norm and additionally, abad odor appears after a child birth. It indicates the inflammation in the reproductive system, most often in the uterine, and requires immediate treatment.

After sex

Bad vaginal odor after a sexual intercourse may relate to the female body pathologies or disorders in the male reproductive system. The most common cause of odor after sex is the propagation of pathogenic bacteria in partner. A man may have no symptoms which makes the diagnostics more difficult. If a woman noticed this symptom which is  a predisposing factor of inflammation, she should visit a doctor to identify the causative agent and have a treatment course.

How to get rid of bad vaginal odor?

Before choosing propertreatment of bad odor around the intimate area, it is necessary to identify the cause. A woman should have a complete examination to let a doctor make a diagnosis.

Toeliminate vaginal odor, it is enough to cure the major disease. This symptom does not require any special treatment. The ways for getting rid of gynecological disorders:

  • Medication therapy. Depending on the pathology, antibiotics may be used: Klotrimazole (antimycotic), Metronidazole (antimicrobial) and other medications. Symptomatic and pathogenic treatment are also indicated (pain relieve, elimination of inflammation).
  • Physiotherapy – instrumental procedures, massage, manual therapy etc. (for example, irrigation). These methods enhance the action of medications and enable to introduce them right into the affected area.
  • Maintaining therapy. Immunomodulators, vitamins and sometimes psychotherapeutic methods are used to restore the body and boost its protective functions during the illness.
  • Hormonal treatment. It is used only if it is really necessary and a patient has a hormonal imbalance. Hormonal treatment requires constant control of the gynecologist and taking special tests.

Todayvaginal oder treatmentallows to get rid of this symptom effectively.

How to prevent foul-smelling vaginal discharge?

Follow simple rules to avoid the risk of having abad vaginal odor:

  • Observe personal hygiene (but be reasonable, do not have douching too often and do not dry the vagina with soap);
  • Use the products which do not have the substances causing irritation and allergy (choose natural ingredients);
  • Your vagina also needs air, so avoid too tight underwear and choose natural materials;
  • Use barrier contraceptives in a sexual intercourse (even with a reliable partner);
  • Keep your immune system healthy (cold water treatment, healthy style of life, healthy diet);
  • Advanced diagnostics and therapy of any diseases, including gynecological.

To avoid serious consequences, visit a doctor shortly after you noticedvaginal odorand strictly follow his or her recommendations. Timely treatment is a guaranty of a complete recovery from the numerous gynecological pathologies.