Vaginal odor can be an embarrassing problem for some women. Because the vagina produces a discharge to be cleaned, a certain smell is normal. However, a smelly discharge can signal infections and sexually transmitted diseases, according to Medline Plus. It is important to understand what is normal, and when a malodorous vaginal odor can signal a problem that requires medical attention.
Normal vaginal discharge
Even when you are completely healthy, you will notice the vaginal discharge. This discharge occurs in the cervical glands and is usually transparent in appearance. However, it may also appear white or yellow after it is exposed to the air, according to Medline Plus. The amount of vaginal discharge that occurs varies throughout your menstrual cycle. Normally, women will see an increase in discharge when they are ovulating, when they are pregnant or when they are sexually aroused, or when they are experiencing an increase in tension.
Signs of a problem
Certain changes in normal vaginal discharge may indicate a potential health problem. For example, a change in the odor of vaginal discharge, especially if you notice a fishy odor, could indicate a vaginal infection. Color changes can also be a sign of a problem, according to the University of Slippery Rock. If the discharge is greenish or gray, inform your doctor. The consistency of the vaginal discharge is another consideration. When the discharge changes to a cheese-like consistency, it can mean a yeast infection.
Vaginal odor can have many causes. Common infections such as bacterial vaginosis, vaginitis and fungal infections can lead to malodorous discharge, such as sexually transmitted diseases gonorrhea and chlamydia, according to MayoClinic. com. In some cases, if a woman accidentally leaves a tampon on, it can also cause a vaginal odor. Rarely, serious diseases such as cervical cancer or a rectovaginal fistula can also cause a bad odor in the vagina.
The elimination of a foul-smelling vaginal odor begins with the treatment of the cause of the odor. In the case of infections and sexually transmitted diseases, a gynecologist can prescribe antibiotics or other medications that can be used to eliminate the infection and, with them, vaginal odor, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Also, remember that the vagina should only be cleaned with water and, if necessary, a mild soap. Avoid perfumed sprays and perfumes and do not use scented or dyed tampons or feminine compresses. All these products can irritate the vagina.
Many women consider vaginal douching a safe treatment for eliminating bad vaginal odor. However, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology does not recommend douching. Using a shower to cleanse the vagina can cause healthy, beneficial bacteria and other microorganisms to wash, according to WomensHealth. gov. This can make you more susceptible to vaginal infections. Remember that the vagina cleans itself and douching is not necessary.