How can I Treat Vaginal Odor?

wiseGEEK Writer

Vaginal odor is a delicate subject. It’s obviously a problem that women want to rid themselves of quickly, but common treatments may do nothing to improve it. This is because vaginal odor can have several different causes, and things like attempting to wash out the vagina or douche may make matters even worse.

Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can result in vaginal discharge.
Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can result in vaginal discharge.

One of the main causes of vaginal odor, especially an odor that has a “fishy” smell is a bacterial imbalance or bacterial vaginosis. This is not an infection per se, but more a reduced amount of natural yeasts that counterbalance the bacteria in the body. The main way to treat this condition is not by douching, which may actually cause bacterial vaginosis. Instead, women need to see their doctors and get antibiotics to help reduce the bacteria and restore natural balance to the vagina.

A tampon that has been left in the vagina too long may cause a foul smell.
A tampon that has been left in the vagina too long may cause a foul smell.

Vaginal odor of the fishy sort may also occur when women have a sexually transmitted disease (STD) called trichomonas vaginitis. The odor may be accompanied by some itching and by mucus that is yellow or green in color. This is an infection, which can be prevented by using condoms during sexual contact of any kind. When it’s suspected, it again needs to be treated with antibiotics to resolve the problem. Other STDs may result in vaginal odor too, and it makes it particularly important to get appropriate diagnosis before determining a treatment.

Condom use may prevent trichomonas vaginitis, a type of sexually transmitted disease that can cause odor and discharge.
Condom use may prevent trichomonas vaginitis, a type of sexually transmitted disease that can cause odor and discharge.

Sometimes an opposite imbalance takes place when women have a yeast infection. The vagina may have a yeast smell, and instead of bacterial levels being too high, natural yeasts are too high. This is normally treated with over the counter anti-fungal agents that help reduce the yeasts back down to a normal level.

An unrepaired rip between the vagina and the anus during childbirth might cause vaginal odor.
An unrepaired rip between the vagina and the anus during childbirth might cause vaginal odor.

One of the issues with treating either yeast or bacterial infections is that they may cause imbalance in the other direction. This is especially the case when antibiotics are used because they can cause yeast infections. Women may have a slightly lowered risk if they eat yogurt while taking antibiotics. They should, however, watch for signs of presence of a yeast infection after a course of antibiotics, to make sure that one has not developed.

Strengthening the pelvic floor muscle can help reduce incontinence and vaginal odor.
Strengthening the pelvic floor muscle can help reduce incontinence and vaginal odor.

There are some other causes of vaginal odor that may occur occasionally. Leaving a tampon in the vagina can create infection and cause a bad smell. Women who have stress incontinence, especially minor cases, might occasionally get a little urine on pads or underwear that is then transferred to the pubic hairs and causes a slight urine smell. This might be addressed by working on Kegel exercises to help tighten pelvic floor muscles. In rare instances, an opening exists between the vagina and the anus, usually after an unrepaired rip in childbirth, and this might cause fecal matter to be present in the vagina.

Prolonged vaginal odor may require medical intervention.
Prolonged vaginal odor may require medical intervention.

It ought to be clear that odors from the vagina, which usually is odorless, may result from numerous things and should be taken seriously. They’re often easily treated. Yet it’s important to know exactly what to treat, and many of the treatments require a doctor’s diagnosis and prescription.

Bacterial imbalances can cause vaginal odor.
Bacterial imbalances can cause vaginal odor.

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Discussion Comments

JavaGhoul

A bad vaginal odor can sometimes be treated by shaving the pubic hairs and applying vaseline. This depends, of course, on what the ultimate cause may be. It is also helpful to visit a skilled gynecologist, to address the ultimate cause further.

anon135714

What kind of medication would you recommend?

This site said Gyne-Lotrimin 7 Vaginal Cream and Applicator work. Should i try it?

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