Is Smelling Myself Through My Pants Normal?
Feeling like your body odor is bad is definitely one of the most uncomfortable feelings in this world. And it always leaves you wondering if other people can smell the funky vaginal odor, too, since you can smell it yourself.
A bad vaginal odor after a long day of running around, and right before you hop into the shower is pretty normal and rather expected. However, a scent so strong you can smell it through your pants is not normal, and it could indicate other causes for concern, and it should definitely be taken care of.
Why Can I Smell Myself Through My Pants?
Several causes can be behind a funky vaginal odor, but most odors are caused by a change in the vagina’s pH balance. Some of the most common causes of a smelly vagina include:
Hormonal Changes Due to Menopause
Hormones fluctuate during menopause, and these changes can lead to the thinning of vaginal tissues. Hormones will affect the pH balance in the vagina, leaving you with an unusual, acidic smell. The vaginal odor itself will pass, and it does not necessarily require any treatment. However, menopause-related vaginal atrophy can be treated with topical or oral hormones.
It sounds impossible when you are actively thinking about it, but forgetting a tampon inside is a thing that happens to women, and it happens pretty often! Once inserted, the tampon can turn sideways, or the string can move up into the vagina, which may cause you to forget about it and put another one in.
If your tampon is stuck inside, some of the symptoms that you can experience might include:
- really foul-smelling discharge, usually in the shades of brown
- itching and burning while urinating
- high fever, vertigo, and infection
- swelling and irritation in or around the private area
Luckily, the cervical opening is not large enough to allow a tampon to go past your vagina and into your reproductive organs, which would cause even more medical issues. However, a trapped tampon is not an issue that should be just ignored, as it can cause infections and an illness known as toxic shock syndrome. If you think your tampon is stuck inside you, treat it as a medical emergency and visit your doctor right away; they will be able to remove it safely.
Bacterial vaginosis is a common vaginal infection that occurs due to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria, and it affects women of all ages.
Some of the most common symptoms of this serious infection include:
- unusual vaginal discharge, usually in excess
- strong fishy odor due to the infection
- itching, burning, and irritation in the vagina
Bacterial vaginosis is one of the most common conditions women deal with, and it can clear up on its own. However, if you visit a doctor and seek medical attention for the infection, it is very likely that your health care provider is going to prescribe antifungal medications and treatments or antibiotics to reduce the infection’s effects.
Trichomoniasis is one of the most sexually transmitted infections, and it is caused by a protozoan parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. This sexually transmitted infection is often asymptomatic, but when symptoms appear, they often include:
- excessive vaginal discharge, usually discolored
- pain and burning during urination
- soreness and irritation in the vagina
- strong fishy odor
The most common treatment options for this infection often include antifungal medications and treatments and antibiotics, and you can get trichomoniasis again, even if you have previously cured it.
Cervical or vaginal cancer
Vaginal cancer and cervical cancers are usually asymptomatic until their later stages. However, when they do show symptoms, the most common ones include:
- unusual vaginal bleeding
- pain during penetration
- unusual vaginal discharge with a foul smell
Treatment will depend on the cancer type and spread, but the most common options include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. This serious condition should not be left untreated.
When an abnormal connection forms between the rectum and vagina, stool and other bowel contents can leak into the vagina; this is called a rectovaginal fistula. A rectovaginal fistula is most commonly caused by a third or fourth-degree vaginal tear caused by childbirth. Still, it can also be connected to the underlying condition, such as a history of surgical procedures, Crohn’s disease, or cancer.
Some of the most common symptoms of rectovaginal fistula include:
- abnormal bleeding
- the smell of gas coming from inside the vagina
- passage of stool through the vagina
Treatment for rectovaginal fistula includes a mixture of treating the underlying conditions with medications and surgical correction of the problem.
Urine leaking can sometimes cause the pee to build up on your skin or underwear, which can lead to a scent in the inner thigh and groin area, as well as a strong vaginal odor. Also, if you have a urinary tract infection, the smell is likely to linger even more.
Good hygiene practices will help alleviate the smell and odor. When wet, change your underwear, and clean your groin area thoroughly with soap, warm water, or a washcloth.
How To Prevent Funky Smells in Your Private Area?
There are several lifestyle changes or improvements you can implement in order to prevent funky vaginal odor. Here are some of the most common ones.
Maintain a healthy diet rich in natural probiotics.
Keep your body nourished by maintaining a balanced diet full of foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, as well as probiotic-rich foods such as kombucha, yogurt, and unpasteurized sauerkraut.
Practice good hygiene.
Poor hygiene is going to exacerbate the bad vagina smells and odor. To avoid the bad odor, make sure to wash all of your sweat glands, the area between your legs using a washcloth to remove dead skin, sweat, and dirt. Avoid using loofahs since they can harbor bacteria and expose the area to possible infections. Also, use mild soap and avoid perfumed soaps or body washes since the chemicals can upset your vagina’s natural pH level and cause a strong odor.
Change your underwear often.
Make the switch to cotton underwear in case you prefer satin, silk, or polyester panties. Change your underwear after you exercise and after excessive sweating, and when you notice the odors appearing.
Avoid tight clothes.
Clothing that is too tight is not going to allow your body, vagina, and groin area to breathe. Getting plenty of oxygen is essential for good vaginal health, as well as avoiding foul vaginal odor.
When To See a Doctor About Strong Vaginal Odor?
Smelling yourself through your pants is not a medical emergency, but it is not a normal and typical situation. If you are freshly showered and completely clean, wearing dry clothes, and you can still smell the strong odor, visiting a doctor is definitely worth a shot.
Some signs you should visit a doctor as soon as possible are:
- fever higher than 101.5°F
- foul-smelling discharge or urine
- problems urinating (pain, itching, burning)
If you are pregnant and you notice an unusual and funky smell coming from your groin area, you should mention that to your midwife or OB-GYN. Your healthcare provider will check all of the potential causes with you and recommend testing and treatments.