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Is It Normal to Smell Myself Through My Knickers?

A Candid Look at Whiffy Foofs

My name is Helen and I sometimes have a whiffy foof.

Not for long, granted. But when I leave a hardcore kettlebells session at 7.30 on a Friday morning, trust me, I NEED a shower. I am sweaty and gross all over, including between my legs. I reckon that anyone who comes out of that class without being stinky just isn't working hard enough!

It's a topic many of us shy away from discussing, but let’s face it: our bodies are complex ecosystems, and every part has its own unique aroma—including our vaginas.

Gwyneth Paltrow acknowledged this with her 'This smells like my vagina' candle. She said afterwards was a feminist statement because as women we are constantly made to feel that our vaginas are weird or gross and they aren't! We agree Gwyneth!

While a mild, musky scent is perfectly normal, noticing a strong or persistent vaginal scent, especially one potent enough to notice through clothing, could be a sign that something's not quite right with your vaginal flora.

Let's take a look at what causes vaginal odors, when it might indicate a problem, and how to keep things fresh and healthy.

What is Vaginal Odour?

Vaginal odour is the natural scent emitted by your vaginal and vulva area.  A healthy vulva and vagina will usually have a mild, slightly sour smell which is as a result of good bacteria (lactobacilli) that dominates most healthy vaginas. This bacteria helps keep the vagina acidic, protecting against the growth of bad bacteria and stinks.

That can change depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle. However, a noticeable shift in this odour—particularly if it becomes fishy, sour, or otherwise unpleasant—might point to an underlying issue that needs attention.

Common Causes of Vaginal Odour

The most commons causes of vaginal odour are:

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

This is the most common vaginal infection in folks of menstruating age. One of the signs of bacterial vaginosis is a fishy smell that often gets stronger after sex. BV occurs when there's an imbalance in the natural bacteria in the vagina.


This sexually transmitted infection can produce a foul-smelling discharge.


Ah menopause, the gift that keeps on giving.  One additional side effect of menopause can be a smelly vag.  This is due to the drop in oestrogen levels during menopause which can lead to vaginal dryness and a change in odour.  Help combat vaginal dryness with gorgeous intimate products such as Yes intimate moisturiser and lube, all organic and fabulous!

Coppery or Metallic Smell

This is normally in and around your period and is literally just the smell of blood although sometimes disposable pads do get a distinct smell.

Avoiding disposable pads and switching to reusable period pads or pants can help. Here at Cheeky HQ, we tend to wear a reusable pad in our knickers first thing, then remove it at lunchtime for that fresh knicker feeling (and smell!)

Wiping with our reusable intimate wipes which are designed to be used with water will also help keep you fresh as a daisy!

"These are the first reusable wipes I've ever used and honestly will never go back to disposables! They are lovely and smooth on the skin, value for money is great too!" Reusable Intimate Wipes Review

Unbalanced pH Levels

Your vaginal PH is usually somewhere between 3.8 – 5.0 , which is moderately acidic. A higher pH can allow unhealthy bacteria to grow, causing infection and possibly an odor.

Lost Tampon

Yep, it happens. As you can imagine, a forgotten tampon can lead to a very unpleasant odour.

Poor Hygiene

Not cleaning your genital area regularly can cause unwanted odours.


Did you know that the sweat which occurs around your vulva is not the same as sweat as elsewhere?

Sweat produced in the groin and under the armpits from apocrine sweat glands, whereas eccrine glands produce sweat elsewhere on the body.

The sweat from apocrine glands contains protein. Bacteria break down this protein, which can produce a distinct body odor.


Strong foods like onions, garlic, and spices can change your body's natural scent. Note to self prior to date night!


Some medications can affect your body's emissions, including vaginal odour.  These medications include Leuprorelin , NuvaRing , Tinidazole.


Fluids exchanged during sex can also affect vaginal odour.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) and Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)

Infections can change the smell of your discharge.

Yeast Infection

A yeast infection or thrush can lead to a yeasty odour accompanied by thick, white cottage cheese like discharge.

"I really like these wipes and their fun design. I have been using them as a toilet roll replacement and also as handkerchiefs. So for both face and fanny. They are soft and wash really well too." Reusable Intimate Wipes Review

Recommended Products

How to Improve Vaginal Odour

If you’re experiencing unusual smells, there are several steps you can take to help manage and prevent odours:

  • Practice Good Hygiene
  • Don't douche
  • Wear Cotton or Bamboo Underwear
  • Avoid Scented Products
  • Wear Protection During Sex Or Wash Immediately Afterwards

Practice Good Hygiene

Wash your vulva (external parts) with warm water and mild soap if you are particularly sweaty. Do NOT clean the inside, your vagina itself is self-cleaning.

Don't Douche!

Douching can disrupt the pH balance of your vagina, leading to problems rather than solving them. Just don't do it.

Wear Cotton or Bamboo Underwear

Cotton and bamboo allow your skin to breathe and decreases moisture build-up that can intensify odours.  Cheeky have a range of cotton, organic cotton and bamboo period pants which can help!

Avoid Scented Products

Perfumed soaps, bubble baths, and even certain laundry detergents can upset the delicate balance down there.

Wear Protection During Sex Or Wash Immediately Afterwards

This can help manage fluids and prevent infections that might cause odours.  Again, our reusable intimate wipes can really help!

When to Be Concerned About Vaginal Odour

If your vaginal odour comes with itching, burning, discharge, irritation, or pain, it’s time to visit a your GP if hyou can get an appointment.  Your local sexual health clinic may be a faster, less embarrassing option!  These symptoms, combined with a noticeable odour, can indicate an infection or other condition that may require treatment.

"I’d never heard of this company until I discovered that certain toilet paper can give me a rash! Yep you heard me right a rash. As a sufferer of A-topic eczema and years of suffering, there are times that I have developed sensitivities to certain substances/materials. After days of research and ways of looking on how to reduce my contact with toilet paper (not for every toilet visit I may add) I came across Cheeky Wipes. I chose Cheeky Wipes as they are an independent company and I really liked the ethos of the companies ethics. So after browsing the website I purchased the intimate wipes or family cloth as they may be referred to. After using these for a week or so now I have noticed that I’ve not had any rashes. They are very soft, absorbent and have a very cheeky design on them. Washing them is a breeze, they wash beautifully and you don’t have to separate the wash load, it’s just the same as washing your underwear.

I will most likely be looking at other products from Cheeky Wipes as I really want to cut done on using disposable products and use more reusable items. Not only for the environment but also for my health, because who knows what process and chemicals are being used in disposable items." Trustpilot Review


Understanding your body’s signals is key to maintaining your health. If vaginal odour is causing you concern, don’t hesitate to take action by improving your hygiene practices or consulting a medical professional. Remember, it’s your body, and you know it best!

Feel free to share your thoughts and questions below, or check out more of our content for similar topics. Your journey to understanding and maintaining your health is important, and we're here to help!

We hope you've found this helpful, but if you've got any further questions at all about stinky foofs or any of our products, please do contact us. The team all use the products themselves and love to chat pee, poo and periods all day long! We've also got some further reading that you may be interested in: 




About the Author: Helen Rankin founded Cheeky Wipes, the original reusable wipes kit back in 2008 after disposable wipes caused her eczema to flare up. 4 kids later, she went on to develop their range of 'Simple Reusables' to include period pants, reusable period kits and reusable incontinence pants. Both she and the rest of the leadership team are now navigating menopause, with all the joys it brings!