Why Does My Vagina Smell Like Chlorine?

The scent down below usually changes with the menstrual cycle or hormone fluctuations, but isn’t necessarily a cause for concern. Strong odors can also be caused by a pH imbalance, such as an overgrowth of “bad” bacteria (also known as BV).

Bleach-smelling vaginal discharge may also be the result of a UTI, which is characterized by pain when you pee and cloudy pee. Treatment options include drinking water and taking antibiotics.

Urinary Tract Infections

If your vulva smells like a bleach-like odor, it could be a sign that you have a urinary tract infection. This type of infection is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria, and it can cause a lot of pain while you pee, says Dr. Duncan. If you have a UTI, it’s important to see your doctor for antibiotics.

A fishy odor from your vagina can also be a sign of bacterial vaginosis, a sexually transmitted infection. This condition can be curable, but it’s important to let any sexual partners know that you have a problem, says Dr. Duncan. She notes that a course of antibiotics is usually enough to treat this condition.

Another common cause of a smelly vagina is yeast infections, or candida. These infections can occur when lubricants, spermicides, antibiotic use, or pregnancy allow the normal amount of yeast in your vulva to overgrow. Yeast infections are often accompanied by thick, cottage cheese-like discharge and intense itching down there.

Your vulva’s scent can also change with your menstrual cycle or during pregnancy, as hormone levels can affect the pH of your vagina and your bacterial flora, Dr. Minkin explains. But if the odor is unusually strong or it’s accompanied by other symptoms, call your gyno.

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Bacterial Vaginosis

Just like your gut, your vulva has its own little ecosystem filled with helpful bacteria that can produce certain odors. A chlorine-like smell from your vulva is not normal and can be an indicator of infection or a health problem.

A mild, tangy or fermented odor is totally normal and caused by your body’s bacterial flora. These bacteria release products that help maintain the pH level of your vagina. But if you notice this odor along with itching, pain or unusual discharge consistency, contact your doctor immediately.

Another odor that’s not normal is a fishy or dead-meat-like scent, which is most often caused by BV or the STD trichomoniasis (trich). Both of these conditions cause an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in your vagina and can also lead to a change in the texture and color of your discharge.

Keep in mind that your vagina’s odor and discharge will fluctuate with your menstrual cycle, as well as any other hormonal changes you may go through. But don’t ignore new or unusual odors or discharge, because they can be a sign of an infection or illness. It’s always best to have these issues checked out by your gyno so they can get you on the right treatment plan. Here are some things that might help you figure out why your vagina smells like chlorine:

Trichomoniasis

The odor of your vagina may change throughout the course of your menstrual cycle or during pregnancy, and that’s totally normal. “Just like with your gut, the vagina has a microbiome filled with bacteria that gives it its unique scent,” says an OB-GYN.

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But it’s also important to know that a putrid smell is not normal and could be a sign of an infection or disease. In particular, an unpleasantly-smelling vagina that’s accompanied by other symptoms like unusual discharge, burning sensation while you pee or during sex and a sore in the genital area should be reported to your doctor without hesitation or embarrassment—it could be a sexually transmitted infection called trichomoniasis (trick-oh-mi-NO-sis).

Trichomonas is a one-celled protozoan parasite that lives in the mucous membranes of the vagina, urethra and rectum in both women and men. It is the most common cause of vaginal infections in women and men. Symptoms of trichomoniasis include a fishy or musty odor in the genital area, a green or yellow discharge and itching or redness in the vulva or vaginal lips.

Other causes of a strange odor in the crotch can include things like a yeast infection that’s combined with a lubricant or even just oxidized blood near the end of your period, says an Atlanta-based OB-GYN. Your vagina’s natural odor can also be impacted by things like your diet, exercise and hormonal changes during your menstrual cycle or pregnancy.

Urinary Incontinence

Aside from the unpleasant odor, urinary incontinence can cause many other problems. Leaks can ruin clothes, cause rashes and other skin irritation, and lead to infections such as a urinary tract infection or bacterial vaginosis. The odor is often worse the longer urine remains in contact with other materials or fabrics, so it’s important to get leaks cleaned up as soon as possible. Wearing an absorbent incontinence product that fits correctly can help stop the leaks, and making a few lifestyle changes like drinking more water and avoiding foods with strong odors can further reduce odor from urine.

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Urinary incontinence is caused by damage or weakness to the muscles that keep the anus closed, such as nerve damage from diseases like MS and diabetes or injuries from childbirth, surgery, or conditions such as hemorrhoids. It can also happen when you cough or laugh, and children often suffer from this problem because of their uncontrollable urges to urinate.

The odor of the vagina is normal and can vary between women, but most have a sour or fishy smell due to the natural acidity of the vulva. It’s important to avoid things that can change the PH of your vagina, including douching and unprotected sex, as this can increase your risk for BV and UTIs. Adding a daily probiotic, such as the Flora Bloom Probiotics for Women, can help rebalance your PH and greatly reduce your chances of getting these infections.

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