Vaginal Odor

by Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Pelvic Health

Dear Dr. Northrup,

This is a little embarrassing, but lately, there is a very strong smell after I have sex with my husband. I thought maybe I had an infection of some kind, so I went to my gynecologist. She said everything was fine, including my pap smear. I did a little digging around on the Internet and read that this can have something to do with the kind of birth control you use. I am on the pill.

Can you explain what is happening and give me a recommendation? I have a very passionate sex life right now and don’t want this problem to interfere with it.

Thanks – S.C.

Dear S.C.

Birth control pills raise the pH of the vagina, which encourages normal bacteria to overgrow. Semen already has a really high pH. So the combination of the two produces bacteria with a bad odor in some women.

The first thing to try is a good probiotic, which repopulates good bacteria throughout your body. You take it daily by mouth and should notice a difference in a couple weeks. During this time, the probiotic will most likely improve the vaginal flora, restore the pH, and eliminate the unpleasant odor. If it doesn’t, then you have two choices: get up and douche immediately with a dilute vinegar and water solution following sex, or get off the pill and use another method (like a diaphragm and/or condoms).

This is a very common problem. I’m glad you were able to get past your embarrassment. It’s likely your question will help others!

Sincerely – C.N.

Last Updated: January 21, 2010

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., is a visionary pioneer and a leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness. Recognizing the unity of body, mind, and spirit, she empowers women to trust their inner wisdom, their connection with Source, and their ability to truly flourish.


Add comment
  1. Alicyn Blindow
    6 years ago

    I smell

  2. Donna
    14 years ago

    I recently joined a gym and started Zumba which is latin music aerobics. I am a yoga teacher and used to holding poses for long periods of time I had tried dance lessons with my husband who is a good dancer but felt so foolish and would tried to lead all the time (what does that say). so now I go to the gym and shake it as best I can. lots of fun

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