Our team of medical experts are ready to help

Your questions answered

Hannah asked...

Too embarrassed to go to the doctors.

I am 17 and for quite a few years now, I have noticed a bad odor from my vagina. I have been too embarrassed to go to the doctors. I can sometimes smell it when I'm just sat down. I don't have unusual discharge, but my underwear is often damp. It has a sort 'wet dog' smell, that is really unpleasant.

  • mother-thermometer-doctor-at-hand

    Do you need to see a GP quickly?


    Would you like to speak with a doctor by video or phone at a time that suits you?

    Our Doctor@Hand service, delivered by Doctor Care Anywhere, offers a doctor appointment by video or phone at a time that suits you.

The answer

Vaginal discharge is a normal part of a woman’s reproductive system and helps keep the vagina clean and healthy. However, a bad smell from this area can indicate the overgrowth of normal bacteria in the vagina, leading to an infection known as Bacterial Vaginosis. Another infection that commonly results in a bad vaginal odour is Trichinosis and is sexually transmitted. There are other, less common, causes of vaginal mal odour but, in the absence of any other symptoms such as pain, abnormal discharge/bleeding or itching, this seems unlikely.

Please be assured that vaginal infections are not uncommon in women and are usually easily treated with antibiotics. If you feel unable to speak to your GP, do attend a local Family Planning Clinic or a GUM (Genito Urinary Medicine) Clinic where they have considerable expertise in treating these sort of problems effectively and sensitively. Some of them have walk-in clinics that do not require you to have an appointment and taking a friend along with you may offer you support in overcoming your embarrassment.

In the meantime, take care to wash this area of your body regularly with unperfumed products and change sanitary protection regularly to avoid any further complications.

I do hope this helps you.

Answered by Health at Hand nurses.


You may also be interested in...

Vaginal discharge

'What could this discharge be?'

Health MOTs

Newsletter sign up

Sign up to our monthly newsletter, Better Health, to receive our latest health and wellbeing updates.

Sign up to newsletter