Vaginal odor can change from day to day during the menstrual cycle. An odor might be especially noticeable right after having sex. Sweating also can cause a vaginal odor.
Bacterial vaginosis is an overgrowth of bacteria typically present in the vagina. It's a common vaginal condition that can cause vaginal odor. Trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted infection, also can lead to vaginal odor. A yeast infection usually doesn't cause vaginal odor.
Possible causes of unusual vaginal odor include:
- Bacterial vaginosis
- Poor hygiene
- A forgotten tampon
Less commonly, unusual vaginal odor may result from:
- Cervical cancer
- Rectovaginal fistula (an opening between the rectum and vagina that allows gas or stool to leak into the vagina)
- Vaginal cancer
Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.
Feb. 25, 2022
Get the latest health information from Mayo Clinic’s experts.
Sign up for free, and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips and current health topics, like COVID-19, plus expertise on managing health.
ErrorEmail field is required
ErrorInclude a valid email address
To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which
information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with
other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could
include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected
health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health
information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of
privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on
the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.
Thank you for subscribing
Our Housecall e-newsletter will keep you up-to-date on the latest health information.
Sorry something went wrong with your subscription
Please, try again in a couple of minutes
- Bacterial vaginosis — CDC fact sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/std/bv/stdfact-bacterial-vaginosis.htm. Accessed Feb. 10, 2022.
- Douching. Office on Women's Health. http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/douching.html. Accessed Feb. 10, 2022.
- Sobel JD, et al. Bacterial vaginosis: Clinical manifestations and diagnosis. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Feb. 10, 2022.
- Ferri FF. Cervical cancer. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2022. Elsevier; 2022. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Feb. 10, 2022.
- Ferri FF. Vaginal cancer. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2022. Elsevier; 2022. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Feb. 10, 2022.
- Toglia MR. Rectovaginal and anovaginal fistula. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Feb. 10, 2022.
- Gershenson DM, et al. Genital tract infections. In: Comprehensive Gynecology. 8th ed. Elsevier; 2022. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Feb. 14, 2022.