My Discharge Smells Like Vinegar, What Does It Mean?

My Discharge Smells Like Vinegar, What Does It Mean?

Vaginas smell. That’s a fact. Let’s get that out of the way first. Vaginal discharge keeps on changing its smell for various reasons, known and unknown. Sometimes it is okay to ignore vaginal odor, as it is supposed to smell strange. But if this is happening irregularly and the smell is making you anxious, you can look it up here.

Vaginal odor is extremely mild in normal cases. However, if you are washing your genitals twice regularly and maintaining vaginal hygiene, you have nothing to worry about. Don’t feel super conscious, as no one can smell your vaginal odor unless they are in close contact with your vulva. So what about the vinegar-like smell from the vagina? Why does that happen?

Vaginal Smell That Smells Like Vinegar

Out of all vaginal smells, a tangy or vinegar-like smell is considered to be good, as it shows that your vagina has Lactobaccili or commonly termed good bacteria. Good bacteria are necessary for your vaginal health and produce lactic acid in addition to other substances to keep the vagina healthy.

In addition to vinegar, if your vagina smells sour like pickles but has a mild tangy sort of smell, you still happen to have good bacteria inside. The tanginess or acidic nature of your vagina keeps pathogens at bay and keeps your vagina safe from any infections. This includes the growth of yeast that leads to yeast infections.

However, if you feel the vinegar smell is becoming stronger and unbearable with each passing day, it can be because of any of the following reasons:

Bacterial Vaginosis

One of the top reasons for your vagina smelling like vinegar is bacterial vaginosis. In this condition, the harmful bacteria reach your vaginal canal and cause a vinegar-like smell in addition to painful symptoms like irritation, itching pain, and excessive discharge.

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Multiple sexually transmitted infections are responsible for impacting the way a vagina smells. If it is a sexually transmitted disease, you will definitely see other symptoms of pelvic inflammation in addition to a fishy odor.

In such a case, the vagina does smell like vinegar and also produces excessive discharge.


Surprise, surprise! Your vagina smelling like vinegar can be a symptom of pregnancy. In the early stages of pregnancy, most women experience their vaginas smelling like vinegar. So there is really nothing to worry about there. You can get your concerns answered at your regular doctor’s appointment.

Another reason behind the vinegar-like smell during pregnancy is the pressure of the embryo on your bladder. This can also make the urine and, by extension, your vagina smell like vinegar.


Sweating causes the vagina to smell like Vinegar. Actually, sweat can make the vagina smell like a number of things, but here we are not talking about other normal vaginal odors, including sour smell.

This usually happens as the vagina is in the vicinity of multiple sweat glands. Sweat is initially odorless, but due to the presence of bacteria in the vaginal area, it starts smelling like vinegar. This smell can increase during hot and humid weather or after vigorous exercise.


The menstrual cycle definitely changes the way your vagina smells. It gives your vagina a mild vinegar odor, which is not very strong. It depends upon your flow. If you have a heavy flow, the vinegar smell will become more pronounced. If not, it will remain mild.

What Do Different Smells Signify?

You are not overthinking this. Different vaginal odors do hint at various underlying problems in your body, specifically in your reproduction system. Here are a few frequently occurring smells that women have experienced and their meanings:

Metallic Smell

Metallic smell relates to blood or bleeding. Blood contains iron that gives out a metallic odor. So if you are on your period, experiencing a metallic odor from your vagina is pretty normal. You may have bleeding due to sexual intercourse, which can also make your vagina smells metallic.

But if neither of these is the case and you experience burning and itching along with other symptoms, that is your cue to find a doctor before internal vaginal bleeding becomes serious.

Strong Irritating Odor

How your vagina smells has a lot to do with your diet. If you consume spicy foods rich in garlic, you will experience a strong, pungent smell coming from your vagina. If you are not a fan of strong and irritating smells, eliminate some foods like garlic, onion, fermented foods, vinegar, meat, kidneys, cruciferous vegetables, and so on.

So it is up to you what you are willing to give up, your favorite foods or strange vaginal odors.

Molasses-Like Smell

Yeah. You read that right. Your vagina can smell sweet, like molasses. That mainly happens thanks to your sweat glands. You may also mistake the smell coming from your inner thighs and below the waist area when it is really just your sweat. The sweat glands release a smell that is high in protein and lipids and give off a sweet odor.

However, this is not the only reason your vagina may smell sweet. The changing pH of your vagina also gives a sweet, earthy, and molasse-like aroma. The change in pH can occur due to a number of reasons, but in this case, it is mainly bacteria changing the pH and, therefore, an odor of the vagina.

The alarming thing to note is that your vagina should not smell sugary sweet. If it does, that’s a sign of increased glucose levels in the body and may hint at diabetes. In any case, if the smell persists, you need to visit your doctor for a complete blood sugar checkup.

Ammonia Smell

Some women also complain about their vaginas smelling like ammonia or bleach. Before you reach any conclusion, make sure it’s not your clothes. If that’s not the case, then it is probably due to your urine, and not even coming from your vagina. Urine has multiple complex compounds, one of which is uric acid. Coincidently, cleaning ammonia usually has high contents of uric acid, which gives it a particular odor.

The same odor can be felt coming from your vagina if your urine has high uric acid. Uric acid is present both in cleaning ammonia or bleach and in urine, and that is what makes your lower areas smell like ammonia. You can simply get rid of this smell by hydrating your body properly so that your urine becomes less concentrated.

Remember, none of these smells are serious until you experience disturbing symptoms with them. So be watchful

Can Dehydration Make Your Vagina Smell?

Vaginal discharge smells may vary according to your body’s hydration levels. This is because urine is concentrated with excretory byproducts. The less water you drink, the more the urine becomes concentrated. This results in high amounts of ammonia or uric acid in the urine, making it smell like vinegar.

So drink plenty of water if you want to avoid such a problem. Look for other symptoms of dehydration just to be sure that is the cause of your vagina being stinky.

How To Get Rid of Odors?

How To Get Rid of Odors?

There is no one answer to it. A smelling vagina is not a cause but rather a symptom of an underlying problem. At times you do everything you are supposed to, and your vagina still has a smell. Before you get rid of odors, you need to understand why these odors are coming from your vagina and find the cause behind them. Once you successfully pinpoint the problem, only then can you eliminate it and make your vagina smell normal.

However, there are a few tips that prove helpful in keeping your vagina fresh and healthy:

Boosting Lactobacilli

Lactobacilli, the good bacteria, can help you with that. As mentioned earlier, the vagina is acidic, which makes it smells like vinegar. If you feel the acidity has loosened somehow and you have abnormal vaginal odor along with frequent vaginal infections, it means you are low on lactobacilli.

How Do I Get My PH Balance Back To Normal?

An average vagina has an acidic pH between 3 and 5. To maintain that, you need to focus on increasing the protective bacteria in the body. How? Through your food intake. Lactobacilli can be restored in the body if you eat foods rich in healthy bacteria. These include:

  • Yogurt
  • Sourdough bread
  • Kimchi
  • Pickles
  • Pickled plum
  • Fermented vegetables such as Sauerkraut

If it suits you, you must also take probiotics regularly. They are rich in lactobacillus and keep your vaginal pH normal so that there is no bacterial growth. There are multiple probiotics available in the market. Analyze them according to your allergies, if you have any, and take those specifically designed for the female body.

Healthy Vagina Routine

You can keep the pungent odors at bay if you nip the evil in the bud and just take care of your vagina from day one. The best few things you can add to your routine start with cleaning your vagina. Maintaining vaginal hygiene does not only mean brushing it off with soap. That will do more damage than good. Instead, cleanse it with your fingers using warm water. Warm water kills bacteria and keeps your vagina healthy.

Even in that case, you do not need to cleanse your vagina every day. Remember, your vagina is self-cleaning. It will automatically flush out any toxins that can make you vulnerable to infections. In addition to cleaning, you must be sure that your clothes are breathable. Wear breathable underpants and sleep naked so that your vagina is not shut in with sweat accumulating over it. That’s a recipe for infection.

You should avoid using soap and fragrances down there. It is better to use fragrance-free, organic products, especially soap if you are too adamant about using it. Otherwise, there is no actual need to use soap. Warm water is more than enough.

When To Seek Medical Opinion

You must prepare a checklist, and when the majority of items are ticked off, it is time to see your doctor. What to add to the list? See below:

While rotten meat smell is usually the indicator of a tampon forgotten inside your vagina, it gets more complicated once you realize that is the case. It is not because you are having internal vaginal cell decay. Rather, it is the smell of the tampon that you forgot to remove. As scary as it sounds, you must try to pull it out gently without getting it stuck even further up.

If you are unable to do so, get an appointment with your gynecologist ASAP. A tampon must not remain inside you any longer as it will become a hub of germs and bacteria that can give you newer infections. So get it out on the same day you find out about it.

In addition to the rotten smell, you must also be on the lookout for any fishy smell coming from your vagina. This usually happens when you are suffering from bacterial vaginosis. It will not only appear with smell but also be accompanied by thick discharge and itching. The possible cause of this lies in an imbalance in pH or the number of bacteria present inside your vagina. So if this alarm sounds, you must see your doctor.

If you have had a history of vaginal infections, such as a sexually transmitted infection or common yeast infections, then you must take good care of your vagina to keep it healthy. A regular appointment with your doctor every few weeks can prove extremely beneficial.

It’s Pretty Standard!

Whatever you are experiencing, if the vaginal smells are bearable, don’t go on complaining about them. Your vagina is going to smell because let’s be honest, it is a vagina. The problem starts when the smell persists, along with other symptoms of discomfort.

Vaginas smell like vinegar for reasons like sweating, menopause, dehydration, and even pregnancy. None of these reasons are harmful. But in case you are experiencing abnormal vaginal odors, be it a metallic vaginal odor or any other unhealthy ones, you must try to find out the cause behind it and eliminate it before it hurts you.

All in all, it isn’t alarming. Therefore, you shouldn’t panic before you’re sure that something is wrong.