Aunt Vadge: I’ve got a bad smell coming from my vagina

Hi Aunt Vadge,

For the last year or two now I’ve been noticing a smell from my vagina, that leaves my underwear and even my trousers smelling of it.

Sometimes I think I can even smell it when I’m just sitting with people, and I worry that they can smell it too.

As well as this, there is always discharge left on my underwear that is white/yellow, and I wondered if this was normal, but I think that along with the smell, it may not be! 

But there is no pain at all, or bleeding, or anything else that I have noticed. It can make me embarrassed and really anxious, and I’ve never had any sexual partners but if I did I would be really embarrassed.

Without any pain or irritation, is there any need/benefit in going to the doctors? Do you have any idea what this may be? I’m too embarrassed to go! 

Age 16, England

Dear Embarrassed,

It sounds like you have bacterial vaginosis (BV)​1​, which can occur without any sexual activity – it’s a microbe problem. It can be really embarrassing, for sure, but getting treatment soon should be on your priority list.

Get to the doctor ASAP! They are there to help, and they’ve seen it all before – it’s not a reflection on you as a person (we know you’re fabulous!). You’ve got a microbial imbalance, and it needs treatment so the smell will go away and you can feel confident in your body.

Vaginal infections are really common, and there are lots of solutions. Your doctor will test on your vagina (and give you your first examination to check everything is normal, which is great) to see what’s wrong.

If it is BV, your vagina has an overgrowth of bacteria that has caused the vagina to become less acidic, and the normal bacteria can’t survive, since they love an acidic environment (lactobacilli).

To get rid of the smell, try the My Vagina guide on douching with hydrogen peroxide. Once you have a diagnosis, you can learn more about what’s wrong, and how to best treat it. Take your doctor’s advice, but don’t forget to take a vagina-friendly probiotic after any antibiotic treatment!

Book in with your doctor as soon as possible, and get started on treatment. You’ll be much happier, I promise.

Warmest regards,
Aunt Vadge


  1. 1.
    Khedkar R, Pajai S. Bacterial Vaginosis: A Comprehensive Narrative on the Etiology, Clinical Features, and Management Approach. Cureus. Published online November 10, 2022. doi:10.7759/cureus.31314

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