Something smells fishy…and we’re talking about more than the latest money laundering scheme. We’re talking about vaginal odor. However, what you smell when you are on your period or you just go back from the gym is different from odors indicative of yeast infections or sexually transmitted diseases. Abnormal vaginal odor is often described as “fishy” and may be accompanied by grayish-white, greenish-yellow, or white, clumpy discharge.
In general, vaginal odors are caused by the following factors:
- Poor hygiene
- Vaginitis, or bacterial vaginosis
Mere daily activity, exercising, sex, days without showering (hey, we’re all guilty of it), can create odor in our nether regions. Bacteria thrive in moist environments. Our hygiene habits, or even a small misstep in our typical routine, provide the odor causing bacteria a happy home.
Poor hygiene is just as much a factor of vaginal odor as our efforts to combat it. After exercising, sexual intercourse, or simply as part of your daily beauty regimen, clean your genital area with mild, unscented soap and lots of water. Avoid douching with heavily scented soaps. Your vagina naturally cleans itself through a delicate balance of bacteria and fungus called the vaginal flora. Adding scented soaps disrupts the pH balance causing an overgrowth of vaginal bacteria. This overgrowth is also referred to as bacterial vaginosis. Yeast infections are also a result of disrupted vaginal pH. Diabetes, as well as reduced or elevated estrogen levels due to menopause or pregnancy, respectively, can also offset vaginal pH.
Bacterial vaginosis, or vaginitis, has also been linked to sexual intercourse, particularly if you have multiple sex partners or a new sex partner. However, you can still contract vaginitis if you have not had sexual intercourse. Vaginal odor, along with vaginal rash, irritation, pain during intercourse or urination, and light vaginal spotting are symptomatic of vaginitis.
Trichomoniasis is a form of sexually transmitted vaginitis. Women who suffer from trichomoniasis may have symptoms such as foul smelling, green, grey, or yellow frothy vaginal discharge, genital redness and swelling, and pain during intercourse or urination. Individuals who have sex without a condom or have multiple sexual partners are at higher risk of trichomoniasis.
While vaginal odor may be uncomfortable, not all cases require a visit to the doctor’s office. If you have any accompanying symptoms such as a rash, pelvic pain, or fever, it may be time to talk to your doctor about treatment, particularly if you've never had a vaginal infection. Talking to your doctor may also help if you have a history of vaginal infections and symptoms persist.
For many people, awareness and good habits are enough to keep the odor to a minimum. For others, their vaginal pH just seems to be too far off-base and the odor-causing bacteria tend to thrive even with good habits. For a situation like this we really recommend trying our boric acid suppositories. Simply use them when things have gotten too far out of whack and you need to "reset" your pH levels.