What is Vaginal Odor?
Inflammation or infection of the cervix or vagina can cause a particularly intense, lingering, or unpleasant vaginal odor that is frequently described as having a fishy odor. A woman’s vagina typically has a faint odor.
There are several disorders and diseases that might cause vaginal odor, including:
- An imbalance and overgrowth of microorganisms, such as yeast or bacteria, which ordinarily dwell in the vagina in a particular ratio. Bacterial vaginosis is the term for this condition.
- Sexually transmitted diseases
Bacterial vaginosis (BV), which is defined as an overgrowth of certain bacteria in the vagina, is the most frequent cause of vaginal odor. The majority of the time, BV does not result in difficulties, but it can raise a woman’s risk of contracting an STD. A pregnant woman with BV also has a higher risk of pregnancy problems.
Reviewing your medical and sexual history, performing a physical exam, and having a pelvic exam are all necessary steps in determining the underlying reason for vaginal odor. Your doctor will inspect your external genitalia during a pelvic exam and use a smooth object called a speculum to gently open the vagina so you can see the vagina and cervix. To determine whether an infection is present and to pinpoint the specific infectious organism, your provider will also take a small sample of cells.
Vaginal odor can be controlled. Vaginal odor brought on by sexually transmitted illnesses or other forms of infections cannot be cured, but good hygiene practices, such as daily cleaning of the genitals with mild soap and water, can help to minimize it. You can use boric acid suppositories such as Fem-Rx which is highly effective. Depending on the underlying cause and the presence of any consequences, many treatments are available for vaginal odor brought on by illness or infection.
Some dangerous illnesses, like sexually transmitted diseases, might contribute to certain types of vaginal odor. If you have any vaginal odor that is extremely strong or prolonged or happens with copious or atypical vaginal discharge, you should seek immediate medical attention. If you or someone you are with has excessive vaginal bleeding or bleeding while pregnant, get emergency medical help right away (call 911). Potential consequences, such as infertility, are less likely when the underlying reasons for vaginal odor are identified early and treated.
What other symptoms might occur with vaginal odor?
A strong fishy smell that may get worse or stand out more after sex is a common description of an abnormal vaginal odor. The presence of other symptoms together with vaginal odor varies depending on the underlying disease, ailment, or condition. For instance, pelvic pain and fever may coexist with vaginal odor brought on by an infection that results in pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
Symptoms that may occur along with vaginal odor
Vaginal odor may accompany other symptoms including:
- Infertility or difficulty becoming pregnant as a result of scarring of the reproductive organs brought on by specific STIs or pelvic inflammatory disease
- Genital herpes or chancroid blisters or lesions
- Pelvic inflammatory disease-related low back discomfort, fever, nausea, and vomiting
- Painful sexPelvic or abdominal painor cramps
- Vaginal discharge that is unusually copious or prolonged
- Unusual vaginal hemorrhage or spotting
- Vaginal or genital irritation
- Vaginal or genital discomfort or burning
Symptoms that might indicate a serious or life-threatening condition
Vaginal odor may occasionally be a sign or be the cause of a significant underlying condition, such as a pelvic inflammatory disease or a sexually transmitted infection (PID). If your vaginal odor is especially strong, persistent, or offensive, get help right away from a doctor. Immediately seek medical attention (call 911) if you or anybody you’re with exhibits any of the following signs:
- Change in mental status or abrupt behavior change, such as disorientation, delirium, lethargy, hallucinations, or delusions
- Change in degree of consciousness or alertness, such as passing out or being unresponsive
- High temperature (more than 101 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Heavy vaginal bleeding or any hemorrhage associated with pregnancy
- Severe lower stomach or back pain
What causes vaginal odor?
Numerous illnesses, disorders, or ailments that affect the vagina, cervix, and other reproductive organs can result in unusually intense or chronic vaginal odor. An infection or inflammation of the vagina (vaginitis) or cervix is a typical cause of vaginal odor (cervicitis). Sexually transmitted illnesses like chlamydia and gonorrhea, as well as other infections like a vaginal yeast infection or bacterial infection, can result in vaginitis and cervicitis.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV), which is linked to an overgrowth of certain bacteria in the vagina, is the most frequent cause of vaginal odor. It is unknown what causes BV specifically. The following are the root causes of vaginal odor:
- Bacillary vaginitis (often caused by a Gardnerella vaginalis bacterial infection)
- The Chancroid (the sexually transmitted disease caused by Haemophilusducreyi)
- Chlamydia (the sexually transmitted disease caused by Chlamydia trachomatis)
- Herpes genitalis (the sexually transmitted disease caused by the herpes virus)
- Gonorrhea (the sexually transmitted disease caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae)
- Inflammatory Pelvic Disease (PID, which is a complication of several different sexually transmitted diseases)
- Trichomoniasis; poor genital hygiene; tampons left in the vagina for more than several hours; (the sexually transmitted disease caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis)
- Candida albicans-related vaginal yeast infection (vaginal thrush)
What are the potential complications of vaginal odor?
Vaginal odor may occasionally be a sign of a serious or even fatal disorder that needs immediate medical attention. By receiving early medical attention and adhering to the treatment plan you and your healthcare provider specifically establish for you, you can reduce the chance of significant problems. Vaginal odor complications and some underlying reasons include:
- Birth defects, early delivery, miscarriage, stillbirth, and life-threatening infections transmitted to unborn children during pregnancy, childbirth, or while nursing
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Difficulty becoming pregnant and infertility
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Higher risk of contracting HIV/AIDS
- Pelvic adhesions and scarring of the fallopian tubes
- Transmission of sexually transmitted diseases to sexual partners