Some common causes of feminine or vaginal odor include poor hygiene, bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis and retained or forgotten tampons. Less common causes include rectovaginal fistula and cervical and vaginal cancer, according to Mayo Clinic.
Bacterial vaginosis, which results from an overgrowth of normal vaginal bacteria, is the most common cause of feminine odor. Sexually transmitted infections, such as trichomoniasis, are also a common cause of vaginal odor. However, gonorrhea, chlamydia and yeast infections do not cause any odor, states Mayo Clinic. Feminine odor may also be the result of normal sweating and hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle.
Rectovaginal fistula, which results from an abnormal opening between the vagina and the rectum, causes feces to leak into the vagina and, subsequently, results in an unpleasant smell. Women may also experience unpleasant odors after eating foods with strong scents such as garlic, fish, broccoli, pepper and blue cheese, explains the University of California Berkeley Wellness.
Forgotten tampons can cause a buildup of menstrual blood and bacteria that results in an unpleasant smell. Hormonal changes during menopause may also cause feminine odor, as women undergoing this stage release smelly, watery discharges. If vaginal odor is very strong or accompanies pain, itching or unpleasant discharges, consult a health professional.