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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.