What causes it to smell “down there” (my vagina)?

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female gender symbolEvery female has a natural vaginal scent that can change throughout her menstrual cycle. A strong odor however, can be a sign of an infection, particularly if she is sexually active. Certain sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) such as trichomoniasis can cause a different odor. A woman’s vagina is naturally filled with bacteria but when there is an overgrowth, the condition is called bacterial vaginosis and causes a “fishy” odor.

Not all vaginal odors are caused by an infection, however. For example, poor hygiene or tight fitting clothing or fabric that doesn’t breathe can cause sweat and bacteria to get trapped which can cause and unpleasant odor. But don’t be fooled by products such as douches or sprays that claim to “clean” your vagina. They can be harmful because they remove the fluids that naturally clean your vagina. These products (particularly the scented ones) can actually cause irritation. Simply use soap and water to clean the outside of your vaginal area. Rinse well and pat your skin with a towel until it is dry before you put your underwear on.

If your vaginal odor doesn’t go away, make an appointment with your health care provider and get checked out. There is treatment available.