The discharge smells like onions: causes, diagnosis, treatment

Reproductive health of a woman is the key to personal and family well-being. Therefore, you need to be careful about various deviations in your body. Many women are embarrassed by uncharacteristic vaginal discharge. This is one of the common problems that a gynecologist addresses. In particular, the discharge smells like onions - what does it mean? Why arises? And does one need to be anxious? We will tell you more about this.

Why does the discharge smell like onions in a woman?

Vaginal onion odor is not the norm. A healthy woman should not have any smell from the perineum at all. However, the discharge may have a slightly sour, but not pungent odor. This is due to the peculiarity of microflora. In particular, with the fact that lactic acid bacteria live in the vagina, which create a “home” from an acidic environment.

why the discharge smells like onions

And if the discharge smells like onions, what does that mean? This nature of secretion suggests the presence of pathologies in the body. We will talk about them later.


The unpleasant smell from the intimate zones brings the woman discomfort. It is inconvenient to go to the pool, to the fitness room and other public places. This is discomfort on the aesthetic side. But not all diseases are harmless, they can also be transmitted by domestic means.

However, the biggest fear of a woman is to push her man away during intimacy. Moreover, unpleasant odors during intercourse can be exacerbated.

If the discharge in women smells like onions, but this did not happen before, then you need to look in detail at the additional symptoms of the anxiety state. To establish an accurate diagnosis, it is necessary to analyze the clinical picture. Pay attention to the nature of the discharge:

  • color - transparent, unclear, white;
  • the amount of discharge - scarce or abundant;
  • consistency - liquid, curdled or creamy;
  • smell - absent or discharge smells like onions.
secretions in women smell like onions

The last sign is the cause of the most often psychological discomfort of a woman. It is a specific smell that interferes with a normal sex life.

Allocations smell like onions: causes

Vaginal discharge is an unpleasant situation that leads to a gynecologist. Changes in the functioning of the female reproductive system can cause many factors. Some have an external side of origin, affecting the body through the environment. Others are directly related to the violation of internal processes: hormonal metabolism, the immune system, etc. Most often, several negative factors are combined.

Vaginal discharge is a natural state of the genital mucosa.

the discharge smells like onions

Why does the discharge smell like onions? Such an uncharacteristic odor of vaginal discharge may be the norm if the woman on the eve ate a large amount of onions and garlic. However, in this situation, the discharge may not smell like garlic. But the breath of a woman, her skin can retain a specific smell for a long time. However, it should go literally in a day.

In other cases, the smell of onions from the vagina is considered a sign of imbalance in the microflora of the external genital organs.

The main possible pathologies, due to which the discharge has a smell of onions, will be discussed further.

Bacterial vaginosis (gardnerellosis)

This sophisticated medical term refers to vaginal dysbiosis. In women, this disease is common. Dysbacteriosis is an imbalance in the microflora.

The bacterial environment in the vagina is quite mobile, the ecosystem is constantly changing in it. It is based on lactobacilli. They perform a protective function. By processing glycogen into lactic acid, hydrogen peroxide is released.

Such an acidic environment and the presence of peroxide inhibit the growth of pathogenic flora. It is created by staphylococci, streptococci, E. coli and anaerobic bacteria. These numerous “residents” coexist peacefully until the number of lactobacilli decreases.

vaginal discharge smell like onions

As soon as such a situation occurs, “conditioners” multiply quickly, without causing significant discomfort. Only before the start of the menstrual cycle can the character of the discharge change dramatically. The only characteristic sign of this pathology is white discharge, smelling of onions. Sometimes this smell is supplemented by the smell of rotten fish.

Reasons for the development of dysbiosis:

  • frequent douching with a solution of soda or a decoction of chamomile;
  • the use of contraceptives (suppositories, creams) or condoms that are treated with N-9 (nonoxynol-9);
  • change of sexual partner;
  • the use of antibiotics to treat a pathology that is not related to the genitourinary system.

The development of inflammation in the internal genital organs (uterus, appendages) is the main danger of the disease.

During pregnancy, dysbiosis can cause premature birth, complications in bearing a child and directly during childbirth.

Vaginal candidiasis (thrush)

Every woman has come across this unpleasant disease at least once in her life. Vaginal candidiasis provokes Candida fungus. It rapidly progresses in a favorable microclimate of the vagina.

white discharge smells like onions

Accordingly, it causes significant discomfort, namely:

  • unpleasant odor, discharge smells like onions;
  • copious cheesy discharge that begins to appear 10 days before the onset of menstruation;
  • itching, burning, dryness and tightness in the genitals;
  • inflamed genitals are covered with a plaque that looks like sour milk;
  • painful urination, accompanied by burning;
  • during intercourse, pain is aggravated.

Any stressful situation, depression, uncomfortable psychological state can provoke a malfunction in the work of the whole body.


This is a disease in which the mucous membrane of the vaginal walls becomes inflamed. Infection "dictates" the severity of the form of colpitis. The disease has three forms: acute, subacute and chronic form with sluggish relapses.

why the discharge smells like onions in a woman

Typical symptoms for colpitis:

  • copious discharge with a foamy consistency of a grayish-white hue;
  • vaginal discharge, smelling of onions;
  • swelling and redness of the genitals;
  • dull aching pain in the lower abdomen and in the genitals;
  • intense pain during urination and after it a certain period of time.

If colpitis has become chronic, then the symptoms subside. They can intensify during exacerbation. In the advanced form of the disease, ulcers on the mucous membranes of the genitals can form.

This pathology must be treated in a timely manner, since colpitis can lead to dire consequences. For example, to infertility.

Venereal diseases

These are sexually transmitted infections. Among them are syphilis, gonorrhea, venereal granuloma, inguinal lymphogranulomatosis, soft chancre. The main danger is that these diseases can be transmitted non-sexually.

Doctors separately identify reasons that have nothing to do with the condition of the genitals. The appearance of an onion smell in the vagina can be affected by such additional factors:

  • violent reaction to a stressful situation;
  • lingering depression;
  • antibiotic treatment;
  • overheating or during overcooling;
  • excessive enthusiasm for personal hygiene products that change the pH of the vagina.

The true cause of the onion smell can only be determined by a doctor.

When is the smell without pathology?

In the healthy microflora of the vagina there are lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. They perform a protective function while in balance. If the discharge has a slightly sour smell and varies in color (from transparent to whitish creamy), then this is considered the norm.

The physiological changes in secretions by smell, concentration and consistency are influenced by such factors:

  • period of the monthly cycle;
  • the beginning of sexual activity;
  • change of sexual partner;
  • intimacy;
  • pregnancy (especially the first and last trimesters);
  • breast-feeding;
  • taking hormonal drugs (including hormonal contraceptives).

All these factors affect the female sex hormones secreted in large quantities. They “dictate” the smell of vaginal discharge.

The nature of the discharge is determined by the hormonal spectrum in the female body. The main reason for the appearance of a specific smell from an intimate place is a change in the level of estrogen and progesterone. These hormones are responsible for the reproductive health of women. Changes in the ratio of these hormones can occur in such situations:

  • the second phase of menstruation;
  • pregnancy;
  • taking hormonal contraceptives.

Immediately after menstruation, they become transparent and meager. But they become more viscous and abundant when ovulation approaches. In the second phase of the menstrual cycle, the mucous glands of the vagina change secretion. The discharge becomes creamy, white in color and with a garlic odor.

If a woman, besides the unpleasant odor, is not bothered by anything else, then most likely the reason for the appearance of this aesthetic discomfort lies in physiological changes. Most often, this is considered the norm.


An additional examination will be required to identify the exact cause of the odor. It is necessary to pass such analyzes:

  • general analysis of blood and urine;
  • blood biochemistry (on the hormonal spectrum);
  • microscopy and seeding of excreta.
the discharge smells like onions what does it mean

A colposcopy is required to visually assess the condition of the vaginal mucosa.

After receiving the results of all tests, the doctor will be able to tell the exact cause of the unpleasant odor. If necessary, he will prescribe treatment.


Drug treatment includes antibacterial therapy to reduce the number of pathogenic microorganisms.

For the treatment of bacterial vaginosis, an antiprotozoal agent is prescribed: Metronidazole, Ornidazole.

Be sure to restore the state of microflora prescribed eubiotics. These are beneficial bacteria that are introduced orally in the morning and evening. Eubiotics are taken orally.


Allocations smell like onions - this is an unpleasant symptom that can be prevented. It is necessary to adhere to such medical recommendations:

  • Follow the rules of personal hygiene (wash in the morning and evening with a special gel).
  • Do not douche without medical prescription, as this procedure provokes the development of bacterial vaginosis.
  • You can not wear constantly daily pads, they lead to overheating of the genitals. It is better to pad daily during ovulation, when abundant discharge occurs. They need to be changed every two hours.
  • Wear breathable underwear.
  • Lead a healthy lifestyle, do not abuse alcoholic beverages.
  • Avoid promiscuous sex.
  • Always use a condom if you are not sure about your sexual partner.

If you follow simple rules, you can avoid the appearance of an unpleasant onion smell from the vagina. Be healthy!


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