Vaginal Odor Medical Course
What Is Vaginal Odor?
Vaginal odor is any odor that comes from the .
The intensity of this odor may vary during your menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or menopause.
You may also experience stronger smells after sexual intercourse or exercise.
An abnormally strong odor is often accompanied by other symptoms, such as burning, itching, discharge, or irritation.
Typically, vaginal odor is considered "normal" if you don't have other symptoms.
Causes of Vaginal Odor
Some causes of vaginal odor may include:
Bacterial vaginosisThis infection is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina. Symptoms may include a strong, fishy odor and a thin, gray discharge.
Poor hygieneNot bathing or showering regularly can lead to inflammation of the vaginal area, which can cause vaginal odor.
A forgotten tamponA very strong vaginal odor can occur if you forget to take a tampon out.
The smell should go away once the tampon is removed, but you should see your doctor if this happens to make sure you don't have an infection.
SweatingThe skin around the vagina is prone to sweating, which can cause vaginal odor.
TrichomoniasisThis sexually-transmitted infection (STI) can cause vaginal odor. Other STIs, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia, typically aren't accompanied by a strong smell.
Rectovaginal fistulaThis is an abnormal opening between the vagina and the rectum that allows feces to leak into the vagina, which can contribute to vaginal odor.
Cervical or vaginal cancerVaginal odor is sometimes a symptom of these cancers.
DietThere's some evidence that what you eat can affect your vaginal odor. Foods like onion, coffee, asparagus, and certain spices are known to produce changes.
MedicationsSome drugs, such as antibiotics and herbal medicines, can change the way your vagina smells.
Hormonal changesHormone treatments, such as birth control pills and vaginal creams, can alter your vaginal odor.
A change in hormone levels during pregnancy, breastfeeding, menopause, or menstruation can also have an effect.
Vaginal Odor and Douching
Douching is a method of washing that removes healthy bacteria from the vagina.
Doctors don't recommend douching because it can lead to many different health problems.
Because douching can change the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina, it can raise your risk of infection — along with your chances of developing unwanted vaginal odor.
Douching and other cleansing products designed to help vaginal odor can actually make the problem worse in the long run.
How to Get Rid of Vaginal Odor
Remedies for your vaginal odor will depend on the cause.
You may need to see your doctor for certain treatments.
Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic such as Cleocin (clindamycin), Flagyl (metronidazole), or Tindamax (tinidazole) if you have an infection such as bacterial vaginosis or trichomoniasis.
In general, you can control mild vaginal odor by:
- Wearing cotton underwear and loose clothing, to prevent moisture buildup and increase airflow to the area
- Changing clothes promptly after exercising
- Losing weight (if necessary)
- Practicing good hygiene, by washing your vaginal area with warm water and non-irritating soap
- Avoiding foods that increase the odor
- Wiping front to back after urinating or making a bowel movement to prevent spreading bacteria from your anus to your vagina
- Eating yogurt or other probiotic foods — or taking a probiotic supplement — to balance the bacteria in your body
- Avoiding feminine sprays and creams, which can lead to irritation
An herbal supplement called Femanol is also available to help reduce vaginal odor.
The manufacturer claims that it helps your body build a strong immune system and restore good bacteria in the vagina.
Note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn't regulate supplements or confirm their safety or effectiveness, so you should use caution when using Femanol.
Don't take any dietary supplement without first discussing it with your doctor.
Video: How to Get Rid of Vaginal Odor
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