Vaginas have a smell, there's no way around it. And to be conscious of your smell is completely normal. In fact, it's healthy to pay attention to the way your vagina smells, so you can keep track of your genital health. If you're wondering why your vagina smells like urine, it could be a few things.
According to a German study, the vagina has up to 2,100 different odors. Most of the time, however, NHS Choices noted that your discharge shouldn't have a strong smell or color. Which means that if your vagina smells like urine, it could be time to head to the doctor.
Rajiv Gala, a physician with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told The Huffington Post that the challenge with vaginal odors is that there aren't a lot of great studies that can help you determine between normal and abnormal. But that if you’re noticing a strong smell, there's a good chance that an infection could be at the root of the problem. Physician Marni Friedman agreed, telling HealthTap that any change in your genital health means you should be examined.
Friedman went on to suggest that vaginitis specifically can exist without a change in discharge, and that a change in odor can be the only symptom. Dr. Jeff Livingston also reported to HealthTap that if you haven't experienced a change in your discharge, but you've experienced a change in your vaginal odor, that it's most likely a case of bacterial vaginosis.
According to the Mayo Clinic, vaginitis is "an inflammation of the vagina that can result in discharge, itching and pain. The cause is usually a change in the normal balance of vaginal bacteria or an infection." Bacterial vaginosis is a form of vaginitis, and WebMD says that normally there are both good and bad bacteria located in the vagina. The good bacteria helps control the growth of the bad bacteria, and when the balance gets upset, it results in bacterial vaginosis.
Bacterial vaginosis is usually a mild problem that sometimes goes away on its own, but it can sometimes lead to more serious problems. The Mayo Clinic recommends seeing a doctor if you've never had a vaginal infection before, if you've had multiple sex partners, you're having sex with a new partner, or if you've had an infection before but it seems different.
The smell could also be from excessive perspiration, or leaking urine, according to Dr. Gala's conversation with The Huffington Post. Dr. Gala also said that a woman's menstrual cycle can change the smell of her vagina. If the odor of your vagina is strong enough that you're concerned, or if the odor persists, you should see your doctor to determine the cause.