Although the vagina is a self-cleaning mechanism, certain changes can cause unusual odors and smells that allow the nether regions. 

It's often nothing to worry about and it can come down to something as simple as wearing tight clothing. But other times it can be a sign for something much more serious.


Every vagina has a scent. A normal, healthy vagina gave off a smooth, musky scent.

Our vaginas, which measure between three and six inches in length, are self-cleaning marvels, which means they stay healthy by maintaining the correct pH balance.

The vagina contains a lot of “good” bacteria, which helps maintain the ideal pH balance, which can be slightly acidic.


Occasionally, different odors can be present, which experts agree is perfectly normal, but any bad or unusual smells can be a sign that things are out of balance. If this is the case, you may need to check it out.

Any unpleasant smell coming from your vagina could be a warning sign that something needs to be checked.

fish odor

If your vagina smells like fish, it could be a bacterial vaginosis sign or trichomoniasis, according to Dr. Ayanthi Marcos, gynecology specialist at London Gynecology.

Bacterial vaginosis also usually presents with a frothy, gray or green discharge, and a course of antibiotics is required.

For trichomoniasis, the discharge may be green and yellow in color, with a course of antibiotics also required.


yeast smell

If your vagina smells like yeast, i.e. sweet or a bit like beer, it could be a sign of thrush. In this case, you should be on the lookout for other warning symptoms, including severe itching, redness, dryness, pain, or burning.

A yeast infection can cause a white, curd-like discharge which resembles cottage cheese and treatment includes over-the-counter medications.

Smell like urine/pee

A urinary tract infection (UTI) causes an ammonia or urine odor with related symptoms such as incontinence, a burning sensation, or a burning sensation when urinating.

Discharge for a UTI includes leaky urine with a course of necessary antibiotics.

The Doctor. Marcos recommends pelvic floor exercises, urethral bulking agents, or operations to help strengthen the continence mechanism.

Normal vaginal discharge has a mild, musky smell that is not unpleasant. This means that a slight smell is normal.

If unusual odors are ignored, this can lead to vaginal problems that can affect fertility, desire for sex, and the ability to reach orgasm.

Ongoing vaginal health issues can also cause stress or relationship problems and affect self-confidence.

How to keep your vagina clean and fragrant

Unusual odors to be aware of
How a normal vagina should smell and odors that could signal something serious

“Vagines have a natural odor that can change over time and with your cycle,” explained Dr. Frames.

“It is important to have good hygiene practices, but this should not include douching or using scented products (including scented sanitary napkins) to clean the vagina, as these products and practices can disrupt the vagina's natural bacterial flora.

“Every woman's scent is different and can change temporarily. The vagina is self-cleaning.”

The Doctor. Marcos explained how using certain scented soaps or soaps can do more harm than good as they are known to upset the natural balance of the vagina.

“This can lead to further changes, becoming a vicious cycle that is sometimes difficult to overcome.

“Use only water for washing, dry thoroughly, wear cotton underwear and let your vagina 'breathe' by avoiding tight clothing at all times.”