Vaginal odors are normal. You may disagree. But that’s what science says. All vaginas have some scent. So, you may be fretting over nothing.
“Every woman has a different scent down there, and it’s totally normal,” says Dr. Vanessa Cullins, External Medical Affairs VP at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “It’s part of who you are, and it’s unlikely that someone else around you can smell it.”
As such, there’s no reason for alarm if your vagina smells like onions. Millions of other women describe their vagina scent the same way. You should only be worried if the scent changes, in this case, to an onion smell.
7 Reasons the Vagina Smells Like Onion
The nether region may smell like onions for hundreds of different reasons. However, the most common reasons are as follows;
- You’ve eaten too much onion recently
If you’ve eaten substantial amounts of garlic or onions recently, then your vaginal discharge and urine may take a strong garlic or onion scent. Other foods that lead to vaginal discharge, urine, and sweat with a distinct smell are asparagus and curry.
What to do: If you suspect that your diet is to blame for the distinct onion smell, then there’s no need to worry. The issue will rectify itself within 48 hours. But, you can hasten the return to normalcy by drinking lots of water to flush foods and scent.
- It’s the sweat
There are a couple of things you should know about sweat. First, sweat isn’t just fluid escaping from your body through the skin. It also contains skin cells and bacteria from different organs in the body. Additionally, sweat escapes from every open pore in the body, including in the lady parts. If the sweat mixes with discharge from the vagina, the scent may change to a more foul smell.
What to do: The surest remedy here is to change your underwear frequently, at least three times a day. Also, consider breathable undies made from natural fabrics such as cotton.
- Could it be poor hygiene?
Your lady parts are designed for self-maintenance. The vagina self-cleans and even maintains a healthy balance of bacteria to prevent infections and irritation. This means that you may experience strange odors if you don’t wash the area and change your underwear regularly.
What to do: Wash the labia area regularly with mild soap and water to remove the excess discharge, dry skin, and dried sweat.
- Maybe you left a tampon there?
It happens, even if not frequently. This can result in a foul smell – with or without discharge. You’ll know you forget a tampon in the vagina if you experience fever, pain between the belly button and the genitals, and if you experience pain when urinating or having sex.
What to do: Remove the tampon as soon as you find out. If you can’t remove it yourself, see a doctor immediately. If a tampon remains in the body for too long, there’s a risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS).
- It could also be the hormones
Hormone levels change throughout, especially during the menstrual cycle, menopause, and pregnancy. The changing hormone levels can change the way the vagina smells. If you can smell a strong, strange scent from the pubic area during your periods or ovulation, it’s most likely the hormone estrogen.
What to do: Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about hormonal changes as it’s a natural process. However, stepping up vaginal hygiene may help. If the smell is too strong, the doctor may recommend some meds.
- Is it bacterial vaginosis?
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a vaginal infection caused by a bacterial imbalance in the vagina. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it’s most prevalent among women aged 15-44. One of the main symptoms is a strong vaginal smell. White or gray watery discharge, pain, and burning are the other common symptoms.
What to do: The only solution here is to book an appointment with your doctor. The doctor will conduct tests to verify the problem and prescribe antibiotics to restore bacterial balance in the vagina. Home-based remedies are a no-no.
- Recto-vaginal fistula
Finally, the foul smell from your nether region may also be a sign of a more serious health problem known as a recto-vaginal fistula. Recto-vaginal fistula occurs when the lower portion of the rectum leaks into the vagina. As a result, bowel contents may occasionally leak through the vagina.
What to do: If you suspect fistula, book an appointment with your doctor immediately. After an exam to confirm the issue, they’ll likely recommend surgery to correct the problem.
You don’t need to be that worried if your vagina smells like onions. However, it could also be a sign of an underlying issue. If home remedies fail after trying for 2-3 days, see the doctor.