10 Weird Things That Make Your Vagina Smell

Your vagina smells. It’s an uncomfortable truth that a lot of people don’t want to admit to or discuss. I totally understand that – it’s not exactly dinner table conversation, and it’s not typically what one thinks of when they think of a vagina. But while you don’t need to make your vag scent a main talking point, you do need to acknowledge that it happens and that it’s normal. Sure, there are some foods out there that may or may not affect your down there stench, but at the end of the day, there isn’t a ton you can do to get it smelling like roses and daffodils. (In fact, I don’t think it should ever smell like that, because that would mean you’re using a scented product down there and that can lead to infection). There are, however, a lot of things that make your vagina smell stronger, and some of them are weird.

When I say “smell stronger,” I’m talking about a slightly abnormal scent. You know, those moments when you pull down your pants or you sit cross-legged, and you get a sudden whiff of something that isn’t always there. Most of the time, these are just fluctuations, or they’re from sweat, which makes sense when you think about how covered up our genitals are. Other times, you know that a really strong, not particularly great smell is because of an infection. But what if you don’t have an infection, and you’re not sweaty, and you thought you were doing everything right (i.e. wearing cotton underwear, cleaning the area but not using soap)? There are plenty of things that could be going on, but for now, here are a few weird things that might be making your vagina smell:

Tight Jeans

Wearing tight skinny jeans, yoga pants, or leggings might be comfortable and stylish, but they have their downsides. One of the negative things about them is that they have the potential to make your vag smell weird. Your vagina needs to breathe, and it can't exactly do that if it's smothered up in skin-tight material. Tight clothing leads to sweat and a build-up of bacteria, which can in turn lead to a pungent smell. Not a big deal, but rather annoying.

Source: iStock

Sleeping In Underwear

Again, let's say it all together this time: your vagina needs to breathe. If you're not comfortable going daytime hours without any underwear on, at least go commando over night. You shouldn't wear underwear while you're sleeping unless you have your period. It's the perfect time to let things air out and breathe, because no one is with you. When your vagina is covered up all the time, it doesn't receive the air circulation it needs. That can easily lead to a smell buildup, which isn't ideal.

Source: iStock


If you're a young person, you're dealing with an influx of hormones that are doing so many different things to your body and your mind. On top of all of the stuff you know about, hormonal changes could also be affecting the way your vagina smells. It's just a natural part of being a girl, and there's nothing you can do about it (sorry). Other hormonal changes caused from things like birth control pills and vaginal creams could in turn cause vaginal odor.

Source: iStock


Discharge is normal and fluctuates throughout the month, sometimes even throughout the week. You might notice that there's more discharge down there after your period ends or before it begins, and maybe there's one lovely week where you don't experience anything in your underwear. A lot of people assume that if discharge is associated with a smell, it means you have an infection. This isn't always true. Sometimes normal, healthy discharge comes with an odor. You know it's bad if it smells extremely fishy, and has a strange texture.

Source: iStock


Okay, so no need to panic, but the smell down there could be because you're pregnant. I mean, if you're not having sex, that definitely is not the reason. If you're having sex and you're using protection and you've been getting your period, it's most likely not smelly down there because of your pregnancy. But if you've missed your period and are experiencing other symptoms (nausea, upset stomach, sore breasts, exhaustion, etc.), then yeah, maybe take a pregnancy test.

Source: iStock


Having sex with a new person can definitely cause vaginal odor. When your stuff mixes with theirs for the first time, it can lead to a little bit of irritation, and maybe more discharge or a stronger smell than normal. That can even happen with a partner you've done with it before. On top of that, a latex allergy can lead to a smell down there - or just using a new kind of condoms in general.

Source: iStock

Sex Toys

Similarly, sex toys can contribute to vaginal odor. This is usually the case if you're trying a new sex toy or you aren't taking care of yours. You need to regularly clean and disinfect toys like dildos and vibrators, and if you're not doing that, it could be leading to a smell.

Source: iStock

Your Diet

As we've discussed on Gurl, what you eat can contribute to how your vagina smells. There are certain foods that make smells worse, and others that might even make it smell better. Any strong flavor food or drink can affect your vag, like coffee, asparagus, red meat, seafood, spices, and dairy products.

Source: iStock

Showering Too Often

I know this sounds weird, but it's true - you could be cleaning your vagina a little too much. Your vagina is self-cleaning, which means it basically takes care of itself. Your job is to wash it gently with warm water and MAYBE some unscented soap or something like Summer's Eve Body Wash. If you're washing it a few times a day, or if you're using a scented soap or something, you could be throwing off the pH balance, and thus, making it smell.

Source: iStock

Something's Stuck Up There

Yes, it happens: there have been lots of cases of young women going to the hospital because they left a tampon up there and it got stuck. Forgotten objects in your vagina, like tampons or condoms, will leave behind a smell. It's basically like putting old food in the garbage and then forgetting to take it outside. That is a gross metaphor, but there you have it.

Source: iStock

Do you disagree with any of these things? What did we forget to include? Share in the comments.

You can follow the author, Jessica Booth, on Twitter or Instagram.


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