Why Does My Vagina Smell Like Garbage?

Everyone’s vagina smells a little different, and that’s okay! It’s usually a mixture of the food you eat, personal hygiene, your menstrual cycle, and other factors.

But if your bits are smelling particularly bad, it could be a sign of an infection. Keep reading to find out the six reasons why your vagina might smell like garbage.

1. You’re not drinking enough water

A healthy vagina shouldn’t smell like roses or perfume, but it should also not smell like fecal matter. If it’s a strong odor, that’s not normal and may be a sign of an infection such as bacterial vaginosis or trichomoniasis (an STD). These infections typically come with other symptoms so if you notice one or both, you should call your doctor right away.

The funkiness of your vulva can vary based on what you eat, which can cause it to smell like onions or garlic. The smell of strong smelling foods is excreted through sweat glands all over the body including the vulva, and it can even get into your urine and fecal matter.

If your vulva is smelling like onion, garlic, or a chemical-like scent, that’s not good and could be a sign of an infection, such as a yeast infection, Candida overgrowth, or a bacterial or fungal infection. If you have this, it’s a good idea to switch out your feminine hygiene products for an unscented brand and avoid wearing tight-fitting thong underwear.

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The odor can also change during your menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or if you’re going through menopause as hormones in the body can change pH levels, which can make the vulva stinkier. In these cases, it’s best to see your doctor who can give you a course of antibiotics to help clear things up.

2. You’re not eating enough healthy foods

Vaginas have a signature aroma that can vary from one woman to the next. This is due to your personal rainforest of bacteria, what you eat, how you wear your undies, and when you last had sex. All of this contributes to your unique scent, which is perfectly normal.

Infections can also change the way your vulva smells. For example, a fishy or rotten smell can be a sign of bacterial vaginosis. This infection is common and can be caused by not wearing a tampon for extended periods of time, poor hygiene, or forgetting a tampon in the bathroom. The odor can be worse after sex and may also come with other symptoms like itching or painful urinating.

If you notice a strong or abnormal odor, make an appointment with your healthcare provider. They will be able to diagnose what’s causing the odor and treat it accordingly.

You might also want to try a diet full of healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and legumes. Some people claim that these kinds of foods help with vaginal odor, but results will vary. Some women claim that eating a lot of citrus fruit helps with their vaginal odor as well.

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3. You’re not exercising enough

The groin has sweat glands that can produce body odor, just like the armpits. Sometimes, the groin can smell especially rancid when you’re close to ovulation, because of pheromones that increase sex appeal and communicate information about fertility. However, that smell should not be constant or accompanied by pain or other symptoms. If it becomes persistent, speak with your doctor.

Infections and medications can cause a bad odor down there, too. Some antibiotics can disrupt the healthy flora in your woman cave, leading to stinky results. Other times, a bad smell can be caused by a yeast infection (Candida albicans). These infections are usually accompanied by thick, lumpy discharge with a bread-like scent. Antifungal medication usually works well to treat these infections.

Another common cause of a weird smell down there is gonorrhea, which is a sexually transmitted disease. This infection is accompanied by an unpleasant odor, bleeding between periods, and pain when peeing. Gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics.

Your groin is an important part of your body that should never be shamed or neglected. You should practice healthy habits that promote vaginal health, such as good hygiene, a balanced diet, wearing cotton underwear, and practicing safe sex. Visiting your doctor regularly will also help. If you notice a change in the way your groin smells, make sure to schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider.

4. You’re not taking care of yourself

Your groin and labia contain healthy bacteria that make up your microbiome. These bacteria can produce an odor that varies from person to person, and it can get stronger during the menstrual cycle, during pregnancy, or after sex. But that odor is totally normal and doesn’t necessarily indicate an infection.

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If you are smelling a strong rotten fish or garbage-like odor, it could be the sign of bacterial infections, like trichomoniasis and a yeast infection (bacterial vaginosis). It’s also possible that you have a condition called rectovaginal fistula, which is when the lower portion of your large intestine leaks into the vagina.

Poor hygiene and certain foods can also cause your vulva to smell. Garlic and onions, for example, are high in sulfur, which can create a stench when they mix with your vulva fluids. Sugar is another culprit, as it can promote an overgrowth of odor-causing yeast, so cutting back on sugary snacks may help.

Your body is supposed to stink a little, but it’s important that you take care of yourself so you don’t have to put up with unpleasant odors, especially down there. So drink plenty of water, cut out processed foods and eat more fruits and veggies, wear breathable underwear, keep up with daily hygiene, and don’t forget to use pH balancing feminine products to keep that hard-working vulva happy, healthy, and smelling good.

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