I have a smell coming from my vagina. What causes it and how do I get rid of it?

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female gender symbolShowering every day with mild soap and warm water usually does the trick to feel clean and fresh in general, but if you have a vaginal discharge, itching, or vaginal odor, it may be caused by a change in the bacteria that normally live in the vagina (bacterial vaginosis) or by a yeast infection. Causes of vaginal odor are a forgotten tampon left in the vagina or not showering or bathing regularly. However, vaginal discharge can mean that you have a sexually transmitted infection, especially if you are having unprotected intercourse. See your health care provider to find out what is causing your symptoms and if you need medication. If you do have an infection, there is medicine that can cure it and the odor too.

It’s especially important to talk to your health care provider if:

  • You’ve had unprotected intercourse
  • You have a “different” vaginal discharge or itching
  • The vaginal odor (smell) doesn’t go away

Most girls have a normal wetness or discharge that naturally cleans and moistens the vagina, but it should NOT have an odor. It’s NOT okay to douche or use strong soaps, deodorants, or perfume sprays near your vagina because it can upset the balance of good bacteria that are normally found in your vagina. These types of products can cause an allergic reaction, and/or irritation, and removes the good bacteria that are normally present.