Vagina Smells Like Onion

Personal cleanliness and scent is important for most people. For women, there are products on the market that can hide vaginal scents like onion or other smells. It is normal for you to have a natural vaginal odor, and no one expects to smell like roses. At the same time, there are certain scents that can be a sign of a more serious problem. If your vagina smells like onion, it could be a sign that the bacteria balance is off in your body or you could some type of infection.

What Can Make My Vagina Smell Like Onion?

The vagina is supposed to have a balance of bacteria. Although most people think that all bacteria is bad, there are actually good bacteria that you are supposed to have in different parts of your body. Through the bacteria and natural fluids, your vagina develops a pH of about 4.5. When the bacteria or fluid mix is off, it can cause unpleasant smells or tenderness. Whenever you develop a strong, unpleasant odor, it is a sign that there might be a problem. In addition, any signs of itching, pain or burning in your vaginal area is an immediate sign that you should visit your doctor.

Among other possible causes, the most common conditions that could be causing a vagina to smell like onion include:

Bacterial Vaginosis

When the normal pH and bacterial balance of your vagina changes, it can cause bacterial vaginosis. This is basically due to an increase in the levels of Gardnerella vaginalis bacteria in the vagina. When this occurs, you may notice a thin, gray-ish, runny discharge. After sex, you will notice a stronger scent than normal, but you may also notice a fishy scent in normal conditions. While you have bacterial vaginosis, your vagina tissue may feel irritated or tender. Since this condition can increase your chances of contracting another infection, you should see a doctor and get some antibiotics to treat it.

Hormonal Changes

Throughout your life, your hormones are likely to change. Even throughout your menstrual cycle, your hormones will naturally change. Unlike these natural changes, other changes may occur due to birth control, hormonal therapies or vaginal creams. Changes during menopause can also cause your estrogen levels to drop, which will make your body more susceptible to fungal infections and bacterial vaginosis.


When you work out or are in a hot environment, your body natural sweats. The genitals are generally wrapped up in clothes and are already a high temperature, so they tend to sweat the most. The scent of onion may be caused by sweat mixing with your vaginal fluid. If you want to limit this scent, you should change your clothes immediately after exercising and wear more breathable clothing.

A Tampon

Although it rarely happens, tampons occasionally become forgotten. If you forget a tampon in your body for several days, it can cause severely awful scents. Even leaving a tampon in for a few hours longer than intended can lead to bad smells. If you think that this is the problem, immediately remove the tampon because it can lead to an infection if it is left in for long. You can also schedule a visit to your doctor if you think that the tampon may have caused an infection.

The Foods You Eat

Have you ever noticed how your scent changes after you eat garlic? You vaginal scent changes as well. Onions, asparagus, garlic and curry are some of the most common culprits for changing your vaginal scent. If you eat a lot of these foods, they will change the make up of the bacterial flora in your vagina and cause strong-smelling odors to be emitted. After gorging on onions or garlic, it can take up to a week for the odor to go away as your body resumes its normal bacterial makeup.

Some Medications

Medications like antibiotics and antihistamines can change the bacteria in your vagina. While antibiotics kill off all of the good and bad bacteria, antihistamines can dry out your vagina by reducing the fluids that are produced. Even herbal supplements and essential oils can end up changing the makeup of your bacteria flora.


Trichomoniasis is an extremely common infection that is transmitted through sex. When you get this sexually transmitted disease, you are basically receiving a parasite known as Trichomonas vaginalis. Once this happens, your genital area may feel itchy or painful. The color, consistency and smell of your vagina may change. You may also experience pain during urination or sex. If you do not use protection, you are more likely to get this parasite. It can still be transmitted with protection, but you will reduce the chances greatly.

Keeping a Negative Vaginal Scent From Happening

Ideally, you will prevent your vagina from smelling like onions instead of treating it. To make sure that you do not experience this odor, you should start by using the following tips:

  • Don’t use perfume or perfume-scented tampons because the chemicals affect your vagina
  • Groom your pubic hair regularly
  • Do not douche because the chemicals will harm your bacterial flora
  • Do not wear tight clothing
  • Wear cotton underwear because it allows your genitals to breathe
  • Dry yourself completely after getting dressed
  • Take a shower and change your clothes after exercising or sweating

Treating Your Vaginal Odor

Although your first impulse may be to try douching, do not do it! The douche can change the bacteria make up in your vagina for the worse and can even cause an infection to spread. You do not want to use any type of soap, oil or other product to clean your vagina. Your vagina naturally cleans itself, and adding anything else will only hurt the body’s ability to maintain a specific bacteria makeup. Additionally, you should make sure to avoid foods like onions or garlic that could be making the scent change.

Probiotic yogurts and drinks can help to improve the bacteria balance of your body. Other than using preventative and self-care measures, you may also want to visit your doctor. Any bacterial or parasitic infection will most likely need professional medical help, so you will want to talk to your doctor about treatment options.


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