Why Does My Vagina Smell Like Armpit?

woman wearing white tank top

Women often notice a distinct odor coming from the external vulva and bikini area. This is due to a combination of sweat and vaginal bacteria.

This is a normal body odor and not something to worry about, especially if it is accompanied by a thin white discharge.

However, if the smell changes to coppery or fishy, this can indicate an infection.

Sweat

Just like your pits, the vulva and groin area have sweat glands that secrete an odorless fluid. When your body is working hard or stressed, the glands can overwork and produce more sweat, which may smell stronger than normal. You can also get body odor down there from certain foods, including onions, garlic, asparagus, curry and red meat. This is because the scent of these foods is excreted through the sweat glands in your vulva, explains Dr. Minkin.

A musky down-there smell can also be caused by tight or non-breathable knickers that trap sweat. The best thing to do is wear loose, cotton underwear during the day and shower with a mild unscented soap. You can also shave or wax your pubic hair to reduce friction and prevent an overgrowth of bacteria in the crotch area.

Sometimes a skunk-like odor can appear down there if you haven’t changed your tampon in awhile or it hasn’t been properly inserted and removed, says women’s health expert Jennifer Wider, MD – This element is the result of the service team’s research https://sexynlive.com. This is a sign of an infection or an overgrowth of yeast that can be treated with antibiotics. If the odor continues for several days or is paired with pain, it’s best to see your doctor. It could be a serious problem, such as trichomoniasis or a sexually transmitted infection.

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Body Odor

Many of the same things that change your body’s odor in other places can affect it down there. Sweat (or lack thereof), diet, the time of the month, and pH can all impact how your vulva smells.

If it’s a tangy, yeasty scent, that usually means the bacteria in your vulva are doing their job. This is normal and nothing to be ashamed of! A coppery or metallic smell, however, can be a sign that there is blood in the vagina. This can be caused by menstrual bleeding, spotting, or even some blood after sex.

Certain foods can cause your vulva to smell differently, too. Strong-smelling foods like onions and garlic can be released through the sweat glands in your armpits, and can also end up in your vaginal fluids, causing a bad odor. Other foods that can cause this include mint, turmeric, cabbage, cauliflower, red meats, and vinegar.

A new study has found that the secret to body odor is actually an enzyme called C-T lyase, which is produced by Staphylococcus hominis bacteria in your armpits. When this bacterium comes in contact with sweat, it produces the odor-causing substance thioalcohols. The researchers were able to recreate the odor-causing reaction by inserting the gene for the C-T lyase into another strain of S. hominis, and they say that this could help scientists develop new treatments for body odor.

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Bacteria

Your body has two types of sweat glands: eccrine glands that produce watery sweat all over, like when you exercise, and apocrine glands concentrated in the crotch area, which can cause body odor. The apocrine glands release an oily substance that mixes with the bacteria on your skin to create an odor, explains dermatologist Suzanne Friedler, MD. If you have an apocrine gland imbalance, a deodorant with antibacterial ingredients can help.

A tangy or yeasty smell that reminds you of sourdough bread is typically a sign of the good bacteria called lactobacilli that live in your vulva, says Minkin. This is normal and usually accompanies a thin white discharge. A coppery, metallic smell is also common and can be caused by blood, whether from menstrual bleeding or a little spotting during sex. That should fade as the blood stops flowing.

If your vulva has a strong, unpleasant, fishy or rotten odor, see your doctor for sex and vaginal swabs to check for an STI. Untreated STIs can lead to pelvic infections including bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis, both of which can cause a bad odor in the vulva and rectum. Other symptoms of bacterial or viral infection include burning, itching and painful urination. A doctor can prescribe antibiotics or hormone therapy to treat STIs and balance your vulva flora.

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Trimethylamine

Most healthy vaginas have a natural, sour or yeasty odor. This is caused by the same bacteria that make yogurt, sourdough bread and even some brews smell good—the lactobacilli. When these bacteria break down proteins in your vulva, they produce the sour or yeasty aroma that you’re familiar with in these foods. It’s totally normal and nothing to worry about.

If your vagina smells like your armpits, it’s probably because of sweat or a combination of factors such as hormone changes, stress levels and diet. Sweat glands in the crotch produce a watery fluid that can combine with your vaginal bacteria to create a foul odor. This type of odor is usually accompanied by symptoms such as itching or burning.

The odor may also be caused by blood, especially during the last phase of your menstrual cycle. Blood contains iron, which has a metallic scent. The odor typically goes away as soon as your period ends.

If you have a strong, unusual or persistent odor, talk to your gyno. In rare cases, this could be a sign of a genetic disorder called trimethylamineuria. This condition affects the way your body breaks down certain chemicals including trimethylamine, which has a foul, fishy odor. Your doctor can tell you if this is the case and refer you to a specialist for tests if needed.

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