An Introduction to Smelly Vaginal Discharge
There are a few different reasons why you may have a smelly discharge coming from your vagina, some of them serious, others not so much!
We’ll outline a few of the most common ones here including the following:
- Bacterial Vaginosis
- Yeast Infection
- Foreign object in the vagina
- Normal vagina smells
Then, we’ll offer you our top 10 tips for dealing with smelly discharge. Keep on reading for all the details.
Causes of Smelly Vaginal Discharge
We’ll outline a few of the most common reasons why you might have a stinky vagina!
Fishy Smell: Bacterial Vaginosis
The most common reason why people have smelly vaginal discharge is because of bacterial vaginosis (BV). It’s usually a greyish-white discharge that has a strong fishy smell. This condition is easy to clear up with some medication, but it does require a trip to the doctor.
It’s kind of like a yeast infection, but instead of an overgrowth of yeast, it’s related to too much bacteria.
Are there home remedies for fishy odor? Some people like to believe so. We don’t. A trip to your doctor will likely produce far better results for you if you do indeed have bacterial vaginosis.
At the very least, please go and get a proper diagnosis before treating yourself. Many people get confused between BV and a yeast infection, and the home remedy for the wrong condition can actually make things far worse for yourself.
Sweet, Yeasty Smell: Yeast Infection
If you notice a sweet, yeasty smell that’s kind of like beer, or bread rising, then you may have a yeast infection. Yeast is what causes bread to rise, and it’s also what causes this smell.
Most people find that the smell from a yeast infection is not really a big deal. It’s just kind of like normal. What is bad is the thick, cottage-cheese like discharge that comes with it.
Green, Yellow or Grey Discharge? It’s Probably an STI
Another reason for smelly discharge is some kind of STI. In this case, the vaginal discharge will most often be yellow, grey or green. In some cases, it’ll smell pretty terrible and it will be obvious that something is wrong.
Trichomoniasis is the most common STI that can cause some foul-smelling discharge issues. It’ll definitely require a trip to the doctor for treatment, and a delay in doing this can cause some further problems.
You can learn more about discharge from STI’s here: Green Vaginal Discharge.
A Foreign Object Left in the Vagina?
Finally, have your forgotten something in your vagina like a tampon or menstrual cup? Or, perhaps a condom has come off during sex and is still in your vagina? It won’t happen immediately, but over a few days.
Something left in your vagina can result in a smelly discharge. It can often be quite dark-coloured, and even appear to be black. Remove the object immediately, and consider checking in with your doctor to make sure everything is okay.
Some doctors (and other people) have described a tampon that’s been left in for way too long as smelling like “something dead!”
Have your Recently Given Birth or Had Surgery?
Sometimes foul-smelling discharge can be caused by a fistula. This is when there’s an abnormal connection between one organ and another structure. In this case, it might be the vagina and rectum or bladder.
If you notice a bleachy smell after sex, it may be because of condoms or lubrication. It’s not really anything to worry about it, but if you think it smells terrible, consider switching up your sex products.
You may also notice an odour after sex if you haven’t used a condom and your partner ejaculated inside of you. This is because of the semen.
Urinary Incontinence, Sweating, or Dietary Problems
Sometimes light incontinence, excessive perspiration, or farting can lead to what you might think of as smelly discharge. But, these things are actually caused by other bodily function and aren’t really related to your vagina.
Sometimes poor hygiene can lead to vaginal odour and discharge issues. This can sometimes happen in the elderly, or people who are bed-bound for some other reason.
Keep in mind that the vagina is self-cleaning and you don’t need to clean inside of it with anything. But do spray some water around that area when you take a shower.
Sometimes cancer can cause foul-smelling vaginal discharge. This is because of necrosis (death of tissues).
Strong Smelling Vagina: Sometimes Normal
However, there may also be times throughout your menstrual cycle when your vagina has a strong, or musty smell to it. This is normal, and not really a cause for concern.
This musky smell happens because of the presence of bacteria, and high concentrations of sweat glands in that area.
Metallic Smell: Also Normal
My period blood smells like iron, is this a big deal? No!
During your period, you may notice a kind of metallic smell coming from your vagina. This is due to the iron in menstrual fluid and is totally normal, as long as it occurs during your period.
Five Common Vaginal Odours Explained
How to Get Rid of Smelly Discharge: The Top Tips
There are a number of things you can do to fight smelly vaginal discharge, one really good one and then a whole bunch of okay ones!
We’ll give the rundown on the following:
- See your doctor
- General hygiene
- One thing to avoid
- Home remedies
- Another thing to avoid
- Use a condom
- Bathroom hygiene
- Tampons, pads and cups
How to Get Rid of Smelly Discharge Tip #1: See your Doctor
The most likely reason you have smelly vaginal discharge is because you have bacterial vaginosis. The good news is that BV is very easy to treat with some medication. However, you’ll need to visit your doctor to get it.
After taking the pills, your vagina should be back to normal in no time.
How to Get Rid of Smelly Vaginal Discharge Tip #2: Practice Good Hygiene
In order to keep your vagina as happy as possible, it’s best to practice good hygiene. Take regular showers and be sure to dry that area off after.
A removable shower head can be very useful in this regard. Give your labia and entrance to the vagina a good spray with water.
Avoid scented soaps, or vaginal soaps in that area. Also avoid putting soap, even a mild one directly into your vagina—just wash gently around it.
How to Get Rid of Smelly Discharge Tip #3: Avoid Vaginal Deodorizers
You may think that spraying your vagina with deodorizers will help your smelly vagina. It won’t, and will actually just make it worse because they can throw off the pH balance.
Just avoid them!
How to Get Rid of Smelly Discharge Tip #4: Consider your Underwear
If you’re using silk or polyester panties, consider switching to 100% cotton which is more breathable.
Also be sure to wear no underwear at times too. At night, or when exercising are potentially good times to try this. Remember, your vagina likes to breathe, same as you do!
How to Get Rid of Smelly Vaginal Discharge Tip #5: Consider Probiotics, Hydration and a Healthy Diet
If you have smelly discharge coming from your vagina, and you get it cleared up with medication from your doctor, or some other way, then consider going healthy. Take some probiotics to help maintain a proper pH balance in your vagina.
Cut down on the sugar and other processed food, and pump up the fruits, veggies and water in your diet.
How to Get Rid of Smelly Vaginal Discharge Tip #6: Consider Some Home Remedies
There are a number of natural home remedies that can help your body maintain proper reproductive health. You can learn more about them here: Menstrual Disorder Home Remedies.
Smelly Discharge Tip #7: Avoid Douching
Douches are on our list of the things to never put into your vagina. You may think spraying it out with chemicals just to freshen it up could actually help you. It may for an hour or two.
However, over the long term, douching will actually harm your vaginal health. It does this by disrupting the pH level, and can lead to things like yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis.
Feminine odour products? Please avoid them like the plague, okay? Thank you.
How to Get Rid of Stinky Discharge Tip #8: Use a Condom
One way to get rid of stinky discharge is to avoid it in the first place.
If you have penetrative sex with a man, consider using a condom to avoid sour smelling discharge. Semen, when it’s dripping out after sex can sometimes smell not that nice.
Smelly Discharge Tip #9: Wipe from Front to Back when you go to the Bathroom
When you go to the bathroom, be sure to practice good hygiene. This involves wiping from front to back, and not the other way around. You want to avoid any bacteria from your poop around your vagina or labia.
How to Get Rid of Smelly Discharge Tip #10: Empty your Menstrual Cup, Change or Tampon or Pad Often Enough.
One source of a stinky vagina can actually be a pad that you haven’t changed often enough. Even though the pad may not be soaked through, it may be a breeding ground for stinky bacteria. This is particularly true on days when you may be just finishing your period or spotting.
Also don’t forget to take your menstrual cup every 12 hours (max) to clean it well. Tampons have a lifespan of 8 hours so be sure to change them out often enough. Doing these things will help to significantly reduce vaginal infections, as well as prevent any odours.
Learn How to Get Rid of Smelly Vaginal Discharge
What about Foods and Vaginal Discharge?
Many people believe that what they eat leads to their vagina smelling a certain way, or not. It’s true that the following foods may cause a slight increase in vaginal odour:
- Spicy foods
- Onion or garlic
However, this “smelly” discharge that you might get from eating lots of onions or drinking coffee is nothing compared to the smell from bacterial vaginosis, or some STI’s.
Our advice? Don’t worry about foods and smelly vaginal discharge. It’s probably nothing to worry about, no matter what you’re eating.
My Vagina Smells Sour
One common complaint is that a vagina smells sour. According to one article, it may just be a stronger version of your vagina’s natural scent. It could be the result of getting hot and sweaty, and isn’t really anything to worry about.
Of course, it could be BV, which usually smells fishy, but occasionally doesn’t.
How to Get Rid of Smelly Discharge: Have your Say!
What’s your top tip for getting rid of smelly discharge? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.