Check-Up: Frustrated with disgusting vaginal odour
Misha got in touch with Check Up about a 'disgusting' vaginal odour which keeps on recurring despite occasional visits to the doctor for prescription treatments. The discharge isn't heavy, but the condition has been recurring for several months.
It's normal for the vagina to carry a slight musky odour, which is more of an aphrodisiac during sexual intercourse than anything else. But a strong smell or fishy odour might well indicate an abnormal problem in the vagina. Maybe an abnormal discharge is present which is not heavy enough to run down the vaginal walls and descend to the underwear. In any case, with an infection some other symptoms should be present - like itching or burning or a discharge.
Some women experience a vaginal odour after sex. This could be the scent which occurs when some semen mixes with vaginal juices and the sweat which happens during sexual intercourse. It is sometimes tempting to douche or to apply vaginal deodorants, but it is important to know that, contrary to belief, these products themselves can at times increase unwanted vaginal symptoms.
Bacterial vaginosis, or BV which it is also called, is caused by a bacterium, Gardnerella vaginalis. It is not a sexually transmitted disease, but is the most common discharge seen in women these days and causes a distinctly bad vaginal odour. Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a protozoan, Trichomonas vaginalis. It also causes a frothy, greenish or brown vaginal discharge. Other genital infections such as yeast (non -TI) and chlamydia and gonorrhoea (both STIs) are not often associated with unpleasant discharges.
COMMON CAUSES OF ODOUR
In fact, without additional symptoms, it is very unlikely that a vaginal odour, by itself, is abnormal. Common causes of an abnormal vaginal odour will include: poor genital hygiene; A forgotten tampon left up in the vagina which has gone stale with old blood; Trichomonas vaginal infection; or very uncommonly, there is an abnormal opening between the vagina and rectum which allows faeces to leak into the vagina.
To minimise vaginal odour, you should wash the external genitalia more than once daily with unscented soap and dry afterwards; don't use vaginal perfumes; change damp underwear often in hot and humid weather; do not wear panty liners outside of just before and after menstruation; avoid frequent douching which can upset the acidic balance of the vagina; wear only 100 per cent cotton panties; you can try applying an essential oil, such as tea tree oil, which has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. Mix a few drops with water and apply to the outside of the vagina four to five times daily for a week; pour a cup of apple cider vinegar into a bath and soak for 20 minutes. Do this daily. Vinegar reduces bacteria
If these methods don't work, then see your doctor for examination and prescription medications.