Why, and What to Do About It?

Your body holds many wonderful and strange surprises. Some of these surprises may be unpleasant and smelly.

While a temporary bad smell right before it’s shower time is common, a smell so strong you can smell it through your pants could indicate other causes for concern.

Continue reading to learn more about the causes of your discomfort and how you can treat it.

For tissue health to be maintained, the pH balance of the vagina is essential. Unusual odors can result from pH imbalances or infections. Here are some possible causes.

Bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vignanosis, which is common in women under the age of 35, is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria.

These are the symptoms:

  • Vaginal discharges that are unusually gray or white, or too much of either,
  • strong odor that may be described as “fishy”
  • Itching and burning sensations around the groin.

While the condition can clear up on its own, doctors also prescribe antibiotics or antifungal medicines to reduce the infection’s effects.

Trapped Tampon

Sometimes an inserted tampon can become sideways, or the tampon string may move into the vagina. It is possible to forget about the tampon and have trouble removing it.

The following symptoms are indicative of a stuck Tampon:

  • discolored, foul-smelling discharge
  • Urinating causes pain
  • Fièvre
  • There is swelling around and in the vagina.

The cervical opening is small enough that a tampon cannot pass through your vaginal canal. A trapped tampon can lead to serious side effects, such as toxic shock syndrome.

This will prevent this from happening.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA, Trichomoniasis can be a sexually transmitted illness (STI) that affects approximately 3.7million people.

Although symptoms are only present in a third of those with the condition, they can be seen in:

  • Discolored vaginal discharge
  • Urination pains
  • soreness in the groin
  • Unusual, fishy odor

Antifungal medications like metronidazole are available as a treatment. Tichomoniasis can occur again in anyone, even if they have been treated.

Rectovaginal fistula

A rectovaginal fistula, an abnormal connection between rectum (or vagina) and bowel, causes stool and other bowel contents leaking into the vagina.

Trauma from childbirth, which causes a third- or fourth-degree vaginal tear, is the most common cause. However, a history of surgical procedures, Crohn’s disease, or cancer can cause the condition.

These are the symptoms:

  • You can smell the gas coming from your stomach
  • abnormal bleeding
  • Transit of stool through your vagina

The treatment includes both surgical correction and treating the underlying condition.

Hormonal fluctuations

The thinning and alteration of the vaginal tissue due to hormonal changes such as menopause may cause the pH balance to be affected. This can result in an unusual, acidic odor.

While the smell doesn’t necessary require treatment, doctors can treat menopause-related vaginal atrophy with topical or oral hormones.

Vaginal or cervical cancer

The symptoms of cancers in the cervix and vagina are not common until their later stages. Some people might notice the following symptoms:

  • unusual bleeding
  • pain during sex
  • Unusual vaginal discharges that could smell foul

The type of cancer and the extent of its spread will determine which treatment is required. They can include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

Penises can also make people more vulnerable to infections or other conditions that could cause unpleasant odors. Here are some examples.


Hyperhidrosis refers to excessive sweating. Hyperhidrosis is a condition that causes excessive sweating in men’s groins. This is because testicles can rub against the skin and cause friction. Bad odors can be caused by extra sweat.

This is treated with cornstarch to absorb excess sweat, washing and drying the groin area regularly with mild soap, and wearing underwear that isn’t too tight-fitting (such as boxers). A doctor may be able prescribing medications to reduce excessive sweating if the problem persists.


Smegma is a condition that can affect uncircumcised males. It causes dead skin cells to accumulate, as well as fluids and oils. A thick, whitish, or strong odorous smegma can form underneath the foreskin. Swelling, redness and discomfort can result from excessive buildup.

Balanitis is possible if smegma goes untreated. To remove smegma, you need to pull the skin back. Then wash your hands with warm soapy water.


Balanitis is a condition in which uncircumcised males are affected, causing irritation and infection to the foreskin. The following symptoms are common:

  • unusual discharge
  • Itching
  • Pain
  • tight-appearing foreskin

Other people may also have painful urination problems.

Topical creams can be used to relieve itching and inflammation, as well oral antibiotics and antifungals that are prescribed to treat balanitis.

Non-gonococcal Uritis

Non-gonococcal Uritis is an inflammation in the urethra (tube through which urine flows before it exits the penis).

Common causes are chlamydia and injuries to the urinary tract, such as those caused by catheter trauma. An unpleasant odor can be caused by bacteria.

The condition will typically be treated by doctors with antibiotics such as doxycycline.

Fournier’s gangrene

Fournier’s gangrene is a serious infection of the penis, perineum, or scrotum. The following symptoms are common:

  • Fièvre
  • Swelling of the genital area
  • A strong, unpleasant odor emanating from the groin indicates tissue death.

There are two options: antibiotics for the infection or surgical removal of the affected tissues. It can be fatal if it is not treated. It may require reconstructive surgery for some people.

People with penises as well as people with veginas may experience groin odors. The following are some examples.

Poor hygiene

Regular bathing may cause dirt, sweat, and dead cells to buildup, which can result in strong odors. These effects can be reduced by taking a shower regularly and washing your clothes with warm soapy water.


Bad odors can be caused by sweating in the groin. After exercise or an athletic activity, it is a good idea to shower. This can reduce bad-smelling smells.

It can help to wear clean, dry clothes after a sweat session. You will sweat more if you wear tight-fitting clothing.


Temporarily, certain foods can alter the way your body smells. This includes your urine and sweat.

Strong body odors can be caused by foods such as asparagus, garlic and onion, along with vinegar, marinated fish and fermented dairy products.


Some medications may increase the body’s likelihood to sweat, which may increase the smells in the groin area. This is true for some antidepressants such as:

  • duloxetine hydrochloride (Cymbalta)
  • escitalopram oxalate (Lexapro)
  • paroxetine hydrochloride (Paxil)
  • sertraline hydrochloride (Zoloft)

Talk to your doctor about alternative medication options.


It’s not uncommon to notice that your groin smells a little unusual after sexual activity. It could be due to a variety of reasons.

Vigorous sex can increase the smell by causing sweating. If there are active yeast infections, or other conditions, your smell might increase.

You don’t need to use anything special to clean your penis or vagina after sex to reduce the smell. Instead, you can use soap water.

Urinary tract infections (UTI)

UTIs are caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in the urinary tract. The following symptoms can occur:

  • Urination pains
  • Side pain
  • nausea
  • It may be possible to smell urine from your clothes.

UTIs can be treated with antibiotics, staying hydrated, or taking over-the counter pain medication to relieve the pain.


Sometimes urine leaking can cause urine buildup on your skin or underwear. This can cause a smelly groin. You may feel the smell lingering if you have a urinary tract infections.

It’s important to follow good hygiene habits, such washing your underwear after it gets wet, or thoroughly washing your groin using soap, warm water and a washcloth.

Yeast infection

Penises and vaginal infections can result from yeast infections. They can leave a bread-like odor in the groin and cause unusual discharge, itching or skin irritation.

You can use topical antifungal creams or oral antifungal medicines. You should consult a doctor if you have recurring infections.

Sexually transmitted Infections

Unusual discharges and smells in the groin are common symptoms of STIs. These conditions don’t always cause symptoms, which is why it’s important to get tested for STIs regularly.

Smelling yourself through your pants is rarely a medical emergency, but it’s also not typical.

If you’ve bathed recently and are wearing clean, dry clothing, it’s likely worth a visit to a doctor to talk about potential underlying causes.

These are some signs that you should see a doctor as soon as possible:

  • fever greater than 101.5°F (38.6°C)
  • foul-smelling urine or discharge
  • Problems with urinating

If you’re pregnant and have an unusual smell coming from your groin, you’ll also want to check in with your OB-GYN or midwife.

A doctor can discuss possible causes with you, and then recommend the testing and treatment that is best for you.

There are many reasons why you might smell your pants. Most of these are easily treated. If you can’t change the smell through hygiene, talk to a doctor to determine potential treatments.

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