15 Things You Didn’t Realize Can Cause Vaginal Odor

April 16, 2015  |  
1 of 16

thirdhand smoke


You shower regularly, you eat a healthy diet and you change your underwear daily – and even wear a panty liner, but for some reason, you still have a funny stench downstairs. This can make you feel uncomfortable when your partner wants to perform oral on you, or even when people come close to you, not to mention at the gynecologist. If you’re struggling with vaginal odor and have tried everything under the sun to rid yourself of the problem, here’s what you should know about the various causes of it so you can stop feeling self-conscious.


Gettyimages.com/Young woman standing on bed with man lying down

Allergy to condoms

According to We Belong Project, some women are allergic to certain materials in condoms, which can throw off vaginal bacteria and cause odor. Switch to a few different types of condom over the course of a few weeks and see if the stench improves. This will take a little trial and error.

seasonal depression

Gettyimages.com/woman relaxing after a bath


According to the Office on Women’s Health, douching can mess with the pH levels of the vagina and even cause a large amount of bacteria to grow. There is good and bad bacteria that can be down there, but the bad bacteria can cause a strong smell.


Excessive washing

Even if you’re just washing your vagina with warm water, according to Innovateus, excessive washing can still mess with the vagina’s flora, causing an odor.

flu shot 2018

Gettyimages.com/Multiethnic group of young women do barre & suspension workout together at modern gym

Physical activity

If you’re an avid exerciser, what you could be smelling is just sweat accumulating down there. According to the Office on Women’s Health, lots of physical activity can give your vagina a “muskier” smell.

fitness professional documents removal of butt injections


Tight clothing

Even if you’re not very active, wearing very tight pants or underwear can cause your vagina to sweat. This, again, can cause vaginal odor.

Gettyimages.com/Menstrual protection

Leftover tampon

Innovateus also lists the “presence of leftover tampon inside vagina” as a cause for vaginal odor. We would hope you wouldn’t forget a whole tampon inside of you, but also make sure there were no fly away fibers left in there.

Gettyimages.com/woman on a couch in underwear

Wearing underwear at night

According to reports, sleeping in the nude to air out the vagina is the way to go. Bedtime is, after all, the perfect time to let out all the sweat that has built up over the day.

Gettyimages.com/Preparing Relaxing baths using bath bomb

Scented body wash

Using scented body wash or even scented lotion near the vagina can cause odor.


Gettyimages.com/woman doing laundry

Laundry detergent

Scented laundry detergent or fabric softeners can irritate the vagina, once again causing odor. Wash your underwear separately with unscented detergent if this is the case.

Gettyimages.com/bikini wax

Excess pubic hair

Our pubic hair is meant to waft the smell of the vagina around—this actually used to attract mates thousands of years ago. But today, we don’t want that smell lurking so trim/wax/shave away.

Women’s underwear hanging on clothes line

Synthetic materials

Your best bet for underwear is cotton. Synthetic materials don’t allow air to flow through the underwear, trapping humidity (and smelly sweat) inside.

cooking with herbs and spices

Gettyimages.com/A bowl with chilis, Capsicum annuum spicy food

Spicy food  

According to Mommy Edition, spicy food can cause a sudden increase in vaginal discharge, which can cause vaginal odor.



You may notice vaginal odors accumulating directly after sex. Research says that this is because the pH levels of semen can alter the natural balance of things in your vagina.

post-workout meals


A bad diet

In order for your vagina to build up beneficial flora, you need to be eating a healthy diet. Consider eating yogurt or taking a daily probiotic. According to research, these can help eliminate the funky smell.

pregnancy ambivalence



Mommy Edition also states that during pregnancy, many of vitamins and minerals are passed along to your baby, and this can throw off the pH levels in your vagina.

food storage ideas

Gettyimages.com/asparagus splashed into water, creating bubbles, shot on green backdrop

Other foods

WebMD lists garlic, onion, asparagus and curry as foods that can cause vaginal odor. Fertility Chef says you should add coffee, alcohol, and the tropical fruit durian to this list.

Trending on MadameNoire

Comment Disclaimer: Comments that contain profane or derogatory language, video links or exceed 200 words will require approval by a moderator before appearing in the comment section. XOXO-MN