MSP Sex Q&A: Why Does My Vagina Smell Even Though I Shower Every Day?

Question:
Hello, I have a question for you. Okay, I shower every day so I’m a clean person, but why do I have a bad smell from “down there”? I don’t understand and I’m nervous to talk to my doctor about it. I have no pain, no itch, no nothing except the odor. What could it be and why?

Answer:
Many women – and men, too! – have questions about their genital smell. In most cases, people’s genitals smell just fine assuming they are taking regular showers or baths, wiping after they go to the bathroom and such.

When a woman notices an unusual genital odor, however, it is important that she make an appointment to check in with her healthcare provider. It may feel scary or embarrassing to ask your doctor or nurse why your vagina smells the way that it does but it’s actually a very common question that women ask at medical appointments. Many women want to know if they smell “normal” or not.

There are some health conditions that can cause strong or unpleasant vaginal odor including bacterial infections (such as trichomoniasis) and bacterial imbalances (such as bacterial vaginosis, also called BV). You can read more about these in The V Book: A Doctor’ Guide to Complete Vulvovaginal Health.

Other times women or men might have strong or unpleasant odor in their genital area due to problems with their sweat glands. These are also issues that your healthcare provider can address. There are new research studies looking at ways to address these problems. In one recent study that I read about, a doctor injected Botox into the area of the problematic sweat glands and the patient’s smell got much better. Researchers and doctors are coming up with new ideas to treat health problems all the time, so it’s worth checking in with your healthcare provider.

As a side note, unless advised by your healthcare provider, it is also worth staying away from various feminine “hygiene” products such as douches, feminine hygiene wipes and sprays as those can cause genital irritation. Vaginas are self-cleaning (lucky us) – read more in The V Book.

If you have a question about sex, love, dating, relationships, pleasure, orgasm, tips, techniques, positions or sex terms you’ve heard but don’t understand, email me at DrDebby@mysexprofessor.com. Your confidentiality will be respected.

About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at www.sexualhealth.indiana.edu.