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Why Does My Vagina Stink? 9 Possible Causes

Some health concerns are more real than others. No one would think twice about showing up at the doctor’s office for a sprained ankle or a cold. But when it seems like something is up down there, you probably want to do a little research first. So if you’re wondering,  "why does my vagina stink?” there might be a few reasons. There are a whole host of variables that may affect your scent, from simple dietary changes to medical conditions.

First things first: most vaginas have some amount of odor, so you — or your partner — should not expect a bouquet of roses down there. According to WebMD, the vagina may smell slightly acidic (or similar to vinegar). It’s just the facts.

That said, you probably have a pretty good reading of your baseline scent, so you’ll know if something is up. Although it may be embarrassing, remember that the occasional problems are all just part of owning a vagina. Sure, they require a bit of maintenance now and then, but they also offer you a tremendous amount of pleasure. Below are a few reasons why your vagina's scent may seem off. Depending on your overall symptoms, you may want to change up your diet or even visit your doctor. Whatever is going on, you’ll probably be able to clear things up in no time.

1. Bacterial Vaginosis

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Some infections can alter your scent. As explained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bacterial vaginosis is a common infection that results from an imbalance in your bacteria levels down there. And as further noted by the CDC, some women will experience a strong "fishy" odor as a result, which may become more pronounced after having sex. Although you likely associate the idea of women smelling like fish with gross and outdated jokes, if this does seem to be the case you may want to check in with your doctor.

2. Hormonal Changes

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Minor changes in your scent may just be a part of your normal hormonal cycle. According to Berkeley Wellness, the secretions that result from menstruation or ovulation may have a different smell than other times of the month. These changes in smell are just part of the package.

3. Diet

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Foods may also affect your signature scent. According to Women's Health, anything from garlic to dairy may shake up your pH balance (and subsequent smell) down there. Also, plenty of people experience some pretty funky results from eating asparagus.

4. Forgotten Tampon

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Yes, the thought is pretty horrifying, but it can happen. It's possible to forget about it at the end of your period, or even space out and have sex with a tampon in. But your body will let you know something is up: according to Health Direct, signs of a forgotten tampon include a foul smell from your discharge or the vagina itself. If you can't retrieve it by yourself, then it's time for a trip to the doctor. (Don't worry: your gynecologist has seen it all before.)  

5. Sweat

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You have sweat glands all over your body, and chances are you don't have a ton of air flow around your lady parts during spin class. It's expected that things may get a little funky after a workout. As explained in Women's Health, you can try to keep it dry during your workout (moisture wicking shorts and underwear are a good idea), and get out of your sweaty workout gear ASAP. A shower is also a good call.

6. Trichomoniasis

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This is another very common and easily treatable infection. As explained by Planned Parenthood, trichomoniasis (trich) may result in discharge that smells unpleasant at best. If you're disturbed by the odor in your nether regions, then a chat with your doctor can likely help clear up everything.

7. Yeast Infection

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Most women have to deal with the annoyance of a yeast infection at some point in their lives. A strong vaginal smell (but not a fishy one) is sometimes a part of yeast infections, as noted in Everyday Health. If you have other symptoms, such as itchiness or burning down there, then visit your doctor for help.

8. Rectovaginal Fistula

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This condition may be upsetting. According to the Mayo Clinic, if you have a rectovaginal fistula, or an atypical connection of your large intestine and vagina, then gas or even stool may pass from your vagina. Anything from childbirth to Crohn's disease may cause this to happen. Keep your physician in the loop if this seems to be the case: however embarrassed you may feel, your doctor can help you out.

9. Cervical Cancer

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Does a weird smell in your ladyparts automatically mean you have cancer? Of course not. But as explained by the U. S. National Library of Medicine, cervical cancer may not have many easily identifiable symptoms: abnormal bleeding, foul-smelling discharge, and unusually long periods may be your only clue. To keep your peace of mind, it's a good idea to get regular Pap smears to catch changes in your body before they become cancerous.