6 Vaginal Odors and What They Might Mean

Alisha Bridges | Mar 29th 2016 Sep 25th 2017

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Women’s nether regions are supposed to have a natural smell, but how do you know when you should worry? Vaginal odors can depend on the amount of normal and health bacteria present, what a woman eats, what activity she in engaging in (such as sex or exercise), and her menstrual cycle.  Here are the six different vaginal odors and what they might mean.

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While healthy vaginas can smell fishy, if you smell a fishiness particularly pungent down there, you may have an infection that could range from Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) or a sexually transmitted disease such as trichomoniasis. According to the Centers of Disease and Control (CDC), BV is a very common issue for women between the ages of 14-55 and occurs when there is an overgrowth of bacteria that is already normally present in the vagina. While it’s not life threating it can be a very uncomfortable issue. BV can also be transmitted sexually.

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If you are doing a vigorous activity like exercise, just like other parts of your body that get sweaty, your lady parts can become musty – especially if you have hair down there. This smell is normal and should be expected. To minimize the musty smell you can opt to shave your pubic hair or choose to get it professionally waxed. You can also reduce odors by giving your parts down there a simple rinse.

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If you smell something “yeasty” chances are you have a yeast infection. The CDC states that 3 out of 4 women will experience a yeast infection in their lifetime. I’m not sure how that other 25 percent are avoiding infections, but hats off to you! The symptoms include a breadlike smell, itching, and a discharge that resembles cottage cheese. Again, not something that can kill you but can be uncomfortable. If over-the-counter treatments fail, it’s time to visit a doctor for a stronger dose of medicine or for an STD test.

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This is how some women describe their vaginal smells after sex. The smell is common and will occur depending on condoms and lubricants used.

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If your undies smell like ammonia, you could be dealing with BV as we discussed earlier; a UTI; or a leaky urinary tract. Drinking more water can help prevent UTIs. In addition to more H2O, the Mayo Clinic advised that Kegel exercises can help strengthen your urinary muscles so urine does not seep out.

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Hello, Aunt Flo

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The smell of iron or blood can be common, especially during a woman’s time of the month. This is a common smell and should not raise concern. When menstrual blood hits the air it will have a smell. If you smell fish you may have BV which is a common occurrence for a woman when she starts her period. The PH balance can be all over the place during this time of the month.