7 Little-Known Causes of Vaginal Odor

7 Little-Known Causes of Vaginal Odor


How to know if you have one or them, what to do about it

7 little-known causes of vaginal odor

Most women find it easier to live with vaginal odor when it’s caused by a vaginal infection like BV. That way you at least know the root cause of the problem. 

But it’s much harder to live with the odor when you don’t even know what’s causing it. That’s the problem most women face today. 

Their biggest problem isn’t so much the odor itself, but that they don’t know why they have odor in the first place. 

Because of that, most of them don’t know where to start from or what to do about it. 

That’s why we’ve researched and found several little-known causes of vaginal odor. Some of them are quite easy to spot and fix. But the others may require medical attention. 

7 possible reasons why you have vaginal odor 

As you already know, a healthy vagina has its own natural scent. And this natural scent is not flowery or sweet — it smells like vagina. And the smell can vary throughout your cycle. 

But when the scent starts to surprise or concern you, then you know that something might be wrong. 

Here are some little-known causes of vaginal odor most women don’t know about:

Reason #1: Tiny “foreign” objects in the vagina

Sometimes, objects that have no business being in the vagina can find their way in there. And you may not even know it. 

This includes the accidental retention of condoms… tiny bits of food (from oral sex), and, believe it or not, tampons. Even a small piece of a tampon can cause a terrible odor. So when you remove your tampons, make sure you got everything. 

With those foreign objects in the vagina, things can get really bad and vaginal odor won’t be the worst of it. Sometimes, if they’re not removed on time, it can escalate to more serious conditions like toxic shock syndrome​​.

Reason #2: Odor as a sign of vaginal or cervical cancer

One of the symptoms of vaginal and cervical cancers is an unusual odor. While nobody likes to read the word “cancer,” a change in odor can tell you when something is seriously wrong downstairs. 

This kind of odor is usually persistent, and it follows an unusual discharge. This is not one of those symptoms to ignore. Discuss it with your doctor​​​​ as soon as you notice it.

Reason #3: Rectovaginal Fistula

A really bad odor can also signal this serious health condition. It’s known as a rectovaginal fistula

This is when an abnormal connection forms from the rectum to the vagina… and fecal matter leaks into the vagina through that passage. As you’d imagine, it causes an alarming vaginal odor. 

While this condition is rare, doctors see it often enough. So if the odor is alarming (!!), make sure you get a thorough exam from an experienced gynecologist and tick this condition off the checklist.

Reason #4: Strong smelly urine

Here’s a really unusual cause of vaginal odor: smelly urine. 

Yes, some people have really smelly urine. And over time, the odor will seem to come from the vagina and they’ll think they have vaginal odor! 

This usually happens to people that don’t drink enough water. Because they’re dehydrated, their urine gets more and more concentrated… and more smelly. 

The solution is really simple. Take a look at your water intake.

Do you think you’re taking enough water, (not beer or soft drinks that ‘contain’ water… but pure water)?

Are you really getting enough? Is your urine crystal clear? 

If your pee is colored, then you’re probably not drinking enough. When you start to drink enough water, amazing things will starts to happen to your vaginal health and overall health.

Some benefits most women notice include better digestion… clearer skin… and of course, a normal vaginal odor. 

Reason #5: Hormonal Fluctuations

Your hormones can also easily be the cause of your vaginal odor. Yes, hormones can affect how you smell down there. 

The main hormones that can affect vaginal odor are estrogen and progesterone. They fluctuate throughout your menstrual cycle… affecting your vaginal discharge and your scent.

For example, when you're ovulating, your estrogen levels increase. Because of that, your vagina produces more moisture and more discharge. Your scent can even get a bit lighter or ‘sweeter’ because of that. 

But that changes during menstruation and menopause. 

First, just before menstruation, your estrogen level plummets and your progesterone level skyrockets. Add that to the presence of blood in the vagina, and your scent can become stronger and more acidic. 

Menopause is slightly different. The decrease in estrogen can easily lead to vaginal dryness. This can possibly cause a more noticeable odor due to vaginal dryness and shifting pH levels.

So if you’re past menopause, it’s a good idea to learn how the vagina changes with age and what you can do to keep it young. Helping the vagina to stay young can help reduce abnormal vagina odor.

Another little-known factor that can affect your hormones is stress. Yes, stress can literally stress out your vaginal. So if you’re always on the go… or if you struggle with chronic fatigue, find a way to wind down.

Reason #6: Medications and Supplements

This one isn’t talked about very much. But just like some medications can make your pee smelly, some medications can affect your vaginal odor too. 

The most common medication that cause odor is antibiotics. That’s why you have to be careful the way you take antibiotics

Other known drugs that can cause vaginal odor include Tinidazole, Leuprorelin, and NuvaRing.

Hormonal contraceptives and hormone replacement therapies (HRT) also affect how you smell down there. Even some herbal supplements also have side-effects like increased vaginal odor.  

So do your research before you buy these products.

Reason #7: A rare genetic disorder (TMAU) 

This rare genetic disorder is called TMAU or Trimethylaminuria (tri-meh-thuh-la-muh-nyur-ee-uh). 

People with this disorder notice a super-strong fishy odor when they eat foods like eggs, liver, fish and other vegetables. Why does their odor change when they eat these foods?

Here’s the astonishing reason. 

There’s a compound called trimethylamine, which has a strong fishy odor. This compound is usually found in high-protein foods like eggs, fish and liver. 

When normal people eat these foods, their body easily converts the smelly trimethylamine to trimethylamine N-oxide. Trimethylamine N-oxide doesn’t have a strong odor and can be easily excreted from the body.

But the situation is completely different for people that have TMAU. Their body is unable to convert the smelly trimethylamine to trimethylamine N-oxide, so the smelly substance builds up in the body. 

Their bodies then excrete the excess trimethylamine through sweat, urine, and breath. That causes a strong fishy or body odor.  

There is currently no cure for TMAU. But the condition can be managed with lifestyle changes like avoiding certain foods. These are foods that are high in trimethylamine like fish and certain vegetables.

Some doctors will also recommend supplements or medications that reduce the amount of trimethylamine produced in the gut.

If you’d like to test for this disorder, simply ask your doctor to order a special urine test. This test measures the ratio of trimethylamine to trimethylamine N-oxide in your urine. 

If you have TMAU, the ratio of trimethylamine to trimethylamine N-oxide will be much, much higher than normal. 

Psychological Impact

Vaginal odor can make you really self-conscious. It can even make you depressed. 

And that can lead to social withdrawal or fear of intimacy, affecting your quality of life and self-esteem. 

That’s why it’s a good idea to learn how to manage your mental health while treating vaginal issues. 

In Conclusion

Vaginal odor can be awful. It makes us self-conscious, and also forbids us from having good sex.

But you can easily get your life back by finding the root cause of your odor. When you do that, it’ll be easy to use proven remedies that can help.

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